10 Scottish Surnames & Their Clan History

Sarah Henderson ·June 06, 2023Reading time: 8 minutes

Want to discover more about your ancient clan connections? Here are some Scottish surnames and the places where you can walk in the footsteps of your ancestors.

Castle Campbell


Clan Bruce was one of the richest and most powerful clans in the 12th-14th centuries. It produced two kings of Scotland including Robert the Bruce, who led the Scottish army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 that famously defeated an English army three times its size.


Clan Campbell was one of the largest Highland clans, acquiring positions of power and becoming the major landowner in Argyll. By the 18th century, the family owned the lands of Inveraray, Rosneath, Kintyre, Tiree, Mull, Iona, Morvern, Lismore and Scammadale – so there are plenty of places to explore associated with this clan!

Donald (MacDonald)

A popular Scottish last name, the chiefs of Clan Donald, or Clan Macdonald, were the largest landowners for centuries and the most powerful lords in the whole British Isles after the Kings of England and Scotland. The clan controlled lands and waterways in the west highlands and the Hebrides and its ancient chiefs were known as “Lords of the Isles”.


Gregor (MacGregor)


The members of Clan Mackenzie have roamed far and wide from their traditional homelands in Kintail and Ross-shire. Spectacular Eilean Donan was the clan’s original home, but their seat today is Castle Leod. The clan lands included the wild landscapes of Kintail, Torridon, Applecross and Assynt.


Famed for their skill as archers, warriors and bodyguards, the “wild MacRaes” were a clan feared and respected in equal measure. The lochs and mountains of Kintail were their realm, with spectacular Eilean Donan castle the clan’s home.


Stuart / Stewart


The name of Clan Wallace is a Scottish history staple thanks to the legendary William Wallace, a freedom fighter in the late 13th and early 14th centuries during the Wars of Scottish Independence. The clan struck fear into their enemies with their famous war cry of “Freedom!”

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