Clan Chisholm is blessed with ancestral lands that include some of the most beautiful glens in Scotland. Clan members roamed over territory that included Glen Cannich and the stunning Glen Affric.
The Chisholms were originally a Norman family who probably came over to Britain with William the Conqueror. They originally flourished in the Scottish Borders in the county of Roxburgh before gaining lands in the Highlands through marriage. In 1359 Robert Chisholm was Constable of Urquhart Castle in Inverness-shire. His son Alexander married The Lady of Erchless in 1368 which brought substantial lands and Erchless Castle, the clan seat.
The main patch of Chisholm territory was in Glen Affric, which is often called the most beautiful glen in Scotland. You’ll find it’s a wild corner with sweeping mountains, lochs and remnants of the old Caledonian Forest. Take a walk to the end of Loch Beneveian just before Loch Affric to see the marker erected by Clan Chisholm to commemorate these, their ancient clan lands.
Chisholms have played many important roles in Scottish history. When Bonnie Prince Charlie fled following his final crushing defeat at the Battle of Culloden, he was hidden from the Hanovarian troops in a cave in Glen Moriston. The famous seven men of Glen Moriston who guided the Prince included three Chisholms, Alexander, Donald and Hugh. is The Prince then lay hidden in a cave in Fasnakyle Wood for ten days while local farmer John Chisholm brought him food.
The clan also became notorious for cattle raiding. In 1498 a raiding party led by Wiland Chisholm of Comar stole 56 oxen, 60 cows, 300 sheep, 80 swine and 15 horses belonging to Hugh Rose of the Clan Rose!
You can join Chisholm clan members at gatherings in July each year in and around Beauly and Inverness.
Clan Chisholm sights to explore
The original Erchless Castle was a typical Norman-Scots L-shaped keep of the early 14th century. Since then it has been much altered and added to, most extensively in the 17th century when it was redesigned as a tower house, a design then very popular. It has quaint turrets and oriole windows, a hidden turnpike stairs and a pillared portico. Erchless Castle is not now in Chisholm ownership and is not open to visitors, but is available for holiday let (see www.erchlesscastle.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org / 07875100390).
Opposite Erchless Castle is a burial ground where you can see grave markers of 19th century chiefs of clan and their family members, as well as some very fine carved celtic crosses. In the nearby town of Beauly, you’ll find Beauly Priory, burial place of the 18th century clans chiefs, as well as the Cnoc Hotel, formerly the Chisholm Estate offices.
You can see another snapshot of history on the shore of Loch Mullardoch in Glen Cannich. Legend has it that the chief would address his Chisholm clansfolk from a large stone which is now under the waters of the dammed loch. The Clan Society has erected a cairn above the water line to commemorate the site.
You must visit the very poignant site of the Battle of Bannockburn. Sir John de Chesholme led the clan at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, helping the Scots defeat the English and starting a new chapter in Scotland’s history books.
This is one of Scotland’s most iconic and photographed castles, not least due to its strategic and scenic location overlooking Loch Ness. Robert Chisholm was Constable of the castle in 1359.