Scottish Clan Tours
Researching your family tree is a voyage of discovery. Full of intrigue, exotic names and fascinating histories. It is a pastime that rewards again and again. But those who simply trace their family tree from the comfort of their own home are missing out on the real story of their heritage.
For the whole exciting picture, you need to visit the places you read about. And that means a trip to Scotland. To help you plan your trip, we've compiled a number of clan-themed touring itineraries . So if you see your clan name, just follow the trail and walk in your ancestors' footsteps.
The Armstrong clan was a powerful Border family, their origins reaching back to the Anglo-Danes of the eleventh century. The Scottish Borders, once a turbulent place known as reiving (cattle-rustling) country, was the home of raiding and marauding clanspeople, but is now a gentle and forgiving landscape of farming and tourism centered communities.
This itinerary starts in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, one of Europe's most beautiful cities, and takes you southwards to the fertile lands that border Scotland and England. These were the Debatable lands where wars and skirmishes between the English and the Scots took place until the 1600's. The Armstrongs played the roles of both protector and invader over their long history.
Arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland's magnificent historic capital.
You'll be spoilt for things to do and places to visit. A good starting
point is the National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street.
Here, you'll find the history of Scotland from early geological times
through to the present day.
At the nearby Scottish Genealogical Society library in Victoria Terrace you'll find plenty of fellow travellers and enthusiastic researchers, as well as a wealth of genealogical information and guidance. No appointment is necessary but there is a small charge for non-members.
You can visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the end of the Royal Mile, and perhaps the new Scottish Parliament building which lies nearby. At
the other end of the Royal Mile is Edinburgh Castle, from the battlements of which you
can enjoy commanding views out over both the New and Old Towns of
Spend a second night in this fine historic city.
Head southeast on the A68 towards Jedburgh. On the way you will pass through Melrose. The town is graced by the beautiful and imposing Melrose Abbey where the heart of Robert the Bruce was interred. A little further on is Dryburgh Abbey. It is a fine example of ecclesiastic architecture, despite having suffered in four wars and being burnt down three times. At Jedburgh, the jewel of the Scottish Borders, you can follow the Town Trail to discover the history of this town with its beautiful Jedburgh Abbey, which was another frequent target for invading armies.
Travel a few miles southwest to Hawick. Hawick is the largest border town, here
the power of the River Teviot and Slitrig Water was harnessed for the wool and
linen textile industry. Hawick became a very prosperous town in the 19th
century, the Hawick Museum tells the story of this more recent
Just a few miles south of Harwick is Teviothead. Johnnie Armstrong, the youngest son of the Laird of Mangerton provided safety and protection to the people on both sides of the border between Scotland and England in the 1520's. All paid tribute to him and the Armstrongs became a very wealthy and respected family. The boy King James V perceived the power of the Armstrongs as a threat and tricked Johnnie into meeting him at Harwick in 1530 where he and 36 of his men were executed. The site of Johnnie Armstrong's grave is at Caerlanrig, a short distance from Teviothead. The grave site is now looked after by the Armstrong Clan Trust.
A few miles further on is Langholm, another textile centre with narrow twisting streets. The now ruined Peel Tower was once the home of the Armstrong Clan, the feared outlaws and cattle raiders. The moon played an important part in their raiding plans, the phrase 'There will be moonlight again' being the signal for the next raid. This is rather poignant when we remember that the astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon in 1969.
Stay overnight in this beautiful area and enjoy some Borders hospitality.
Continuing south you will reach Canonbie which lies on the Scottish border at the end
of Liddesdale where the River Liddel joins the River
Esk. The Armstrongs were given the lands of Liddesdale in recognition for
their services to an early Scottish King. Here was the Clan Chief's seat
and the site of their stronghold. It was said that they could muster 3000
horsemen and were in virtual control of all the border lands. Canonbie is
the site of Gilnockie Tower and Clan Armstrong Trust Museum which has Armstrong
genealogical records, artifacts and memorabilia. The tower dates from the
16th century and provides fantastic views across the Armstrong heartland.
A beacon grate perched on the roof was used as part of a signalling
Also in the area is Rowanburn, where a carving commemorates Lang Sandy, Alexander Armstrong, a reiver executed in 1606. The cross-border conflicts were officially ended with the union of the Scottish and English crowns in 1603, but old habits die hard and in 1610 the last Armstrong Clan chief to be hanged for reiving met his unfortunate fate.
Take the road northeast along the Liddesdale valley. One mile to the south of Newcastleton you will find Milnholm Cross which is a memorial to the respected and much loved Laird Alexander Armstrong who was murdered by William de Soulis in 1318. The de Soulis family seat was at Hermitage Castle a few miles north of Newcastleton. Find out about the grissly deed and the legend of the nasty end which de Soulis is said to have suffered as a consequence of this murder. Half a mile along the side road from the Milnholm Cross is Ettleton Cemetery, Alexander's final resting place, together with many other Armstrongs. From this cemetery the remains of Mangerton Tower, the family's first power base in Scotland, can be seen.
Before leaving Scotland, return to Edinburgh where you might like to relax and enjoy
one of the excellent bus tours of the city, explore the famous
Royal Mile in the Old Town or take a stroll through
the elegant New Town.
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