Clan Cameron’s ancestral lands include Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK. Their crest features a sheaf of arrows to signify their prowess as warriors.
The origins of Clan Cameron are shrouded in the mists of time and legend. One ancient clan manuscript tells of the Camerons being descended from a Danish prince who helped King Fergus II of Scotland reclaim his throne in the 6th century. He was nicknamed Cameron for his crooked nose - cam-shròn in Scottish Gaelic.
Another clan legend tells that Donal Dubh, the first chief of Clan Cameron, was descended either from the Macgillonies or a mediaeval family called Cameron from Ballegarno in Fife.
What is certain is that by the 15th century Clan Cameron was flourishing in its spectacular Lochaber. The clan’s seat of Achnacarry Castle guards a vital strategic point at the south-west end of the Great Glen. It stands by a river on an isthmus between two lochs: Loch Lochy to the east, and Loch Arkaig to the west. To the south rise the might shoulders of Aonach Mor and the unmistakeable majesty of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain. This wildly beautiful land of water, forest and mountain is the ancestral realm of Clan Cameron - a place to be proud of.
The Camerons fought fiercely in the Wars of Scottish Independence for King Robert the Bruce, and were led by Chief VII John de Cameron against the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
Achnacarry Castle was built by Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel in about 1655, but this was destroyed by government troops after the Battle of Culloden. The castle that you can see today is ‘New Achnacarry’ which built near the same site in Scottish Baronial style in 1802. The current Chief of Clan Cameron, Donald Cameron of Lochiel but traditionally known simply as ‘Lochiel’, lives in Achnacarry. The castle is not usually open to the public, but you can visit the fascinating museum housed in a cottage on the estate. Displays include the clan's legends, chiefs, slogans, history, clan lands in Lochaber, and notable clansmen.
The castle and its estate played an immensely important role in a more recent conflict. The Commando Training Depot for the Allied Forces was run here from March 1942 to 1945. Here some of the finest fighting men of the war were trained: British Commandos, United States Army Rangers and commandos from France, the Netherlands, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Belgium. It was a brutally tough induction, featuring a famous timed 7-mile march in full battle gear, backpack and combat boots from Spean Bridge to Achnacarry. It culminated in an ‘opposed landing’ exercise with live ammunition on the shores of nearby Loch Lochy. Sadly there were some casualties, but at least 25,000 commandos completed training and went on to fight for their countries.
In 1793, the infantry regiment the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders was raised from among the members of the Clan Cameron. The Cameron Highlanders were the last battalions to wear the kilt in battle, during the Second World War. They successfully repelled a surprise attack by the Germans which earned them the nickname of the 'Ladies from Hell’.
The Clan Cameron Association proudly preserves and promotes the collective heritage of its members at over 100 events worldwide each year. If you visit in July, be sure to stay for for the Lochaber Highland Games at Fort William. There will certainly be plenty of Cameron kilts flowing in the breeze!
Clan Cameron sights to visit
Start off your discoveries of the history of Clan Cameron in Stirling Castle, a favoured royal retreat for the Stuart dynasty and the childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots. To the south west of the city is the site of the Battle of Bannockburn, where in 1314 the men of Clan Cameron fought with Robert the Bruce against the armies of King Edward II of England.
This stunning spot on the north shore of Loch Sheil is a famous place in Scotland’s history. Against the advice of many, including the Cameron Chief, Locheil, Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard here in 1745. Despite his concerns, Locheil committed himself and 850 doomed clansmen to the Jacobite cause. The Glenfinnan Monument was built in memory of the clansmen who fought for the prince - climb it precipitous stairs to the top for an unforgettable view.
The Pass of Killiecrankie
Soak up the history and beauty of this rugged river ravine where the heroic and chivalrous chief Sir Ewan Cameron was victorious against General Mackay in 1689.
This is the seat of the chiefs of Clan Cameron and offers self-catering accommodation. The nearby Clan Cameron Museum is definitely one of the most rewarding Cameron sights for you to visit. The museum traces the history of the clan all the way back to the 14th century. You can also see exhibits from the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders Regiment, originally raised by Cameron of Erracht in 1793. Learn the fascinating story of the time the castle was used as a training centre for thousands of commandos in the Second World War, then stop off at the impressive Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge; it’s a moving tribute to their courage, dedication and sacrifice.
Cille Choirill Church
The first building on this hallowed ground near Roy Bridge was built in the 15th century by Ewan Macallan, one of the great Cameron chiefs. He went on a pilgrimage to Rome after the untimely death of his son, Donald. The Pope ordained that he should build six chapels to expiate his sins, and Cille Choirill Church is one of them.
In the Highland capital you must visit Inverness Museum for an eye-opening insight into the history and culture of the area. For a truly atmospheric experience, make the short journey to the battleground of Culloden where, in April 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite Rebellion was crushed by government forces. Clan chief Donald Cameron, the ‘gentle Lochiel’, fought gallantly at the battle and gained the esteem and admiration of many. However, hundreds of Cameron clansmen perished in the battle. Lochiel's estates were forfeited as part of the suppression of the insurrection, but later were restored under the general act of amnesty in 1796.
While in the Inverness area, it’s well worth making the trip to Fort George. As well as being perhaps the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain, Fort George is home to the Highlanders Museum which tells the fascinating story of a number of Highland regiments including the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders.