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.
Clan Livingstone flourished in two areas of Scotland. The lowland clan had
great influence in the royal castles around West Lothian and then, representing
the church, they took power in the west highland region of Argyllshire. Their
history is full of stories of courage, loyalty and passion, even in the face of
This itinerary takes you from the Baronial lands of Callendar between Edinburgh and Stirling to the magnificent Highlands of Scotland to visit the lands of your ancestors. It will highlight just a few of the stories and places where Clan Livingstone chiefs and their followers have left their mark. You can experience the peace and tranquility of the inspiring Scottish landscapes, the evocative splendour of ancient castles, the hospitality of the local people and much more.
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 travelers 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.
A man called Livingus is thought to be the originator of the lowland Livingstone families. In the reign of King David I, Livingus had a considerable estate in West Lothian. His son, Thurstanus was a witness to the foundation charter of Holyrood-house in 1128. You can visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the end of Edinburgh's historic Royal Mile. The new Scottish Parliament lies nearby on Canongate. A grisly event is supposed to have taken place at the foot of Canongate. In 1600 Jean Livingston, daughter of John Livingstone of Dunipace, was beheaded here for the murder of her husband, John Kincaid of Warriston. She was only 21 and said to be a great beauty but she declined the efforts of her father, who having great influence at court, tried to save her life. 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 Edinburgh. In 1440 Sir Alexander Livingstone of Callendar was involved in the murder of the young Earl of Douglas and his brother who were invited to a banquet at the castle. On their arrival the brothers were slain. A few years later the Douglases, having become very powerful, took their revenge by imprisoning Sir Alexander Livingstone and executing one of his sons.
Today make your way to Stirling. On the way you will pass through the area where the Livingstones settled and prospered. First take a slight detour to Livingston, to the south-west of Edinburgh. This is actually a new city built in the last 50 years. Just to the south is the original Livingston Village, founded by the Flemish entrepreneur De Leving (or Livingus). The village kirk and inn date back to the 1700s, and nearby is the Almond Valley Heritage Centre which has fascinating displays in the museum and farm showing the West Lothian's agriculture and industrial heritage. Now double back and travel west to Linlithgow. Although a busy administrative and shopping centre Linlithgow retains many features from its regal and historic past. Linlithgow Palace was the favourite home of Scottish royalty; it is a magnificent ruin lying between the town and Linlithgow Loch. Mary Queen of Scots was born here. John Alexander, the 5th Lord Livingstone was one of her tutors and faithfully served the young queen until his death. His son William stood by the Queen at the Battle of Langside when she was finally made to surrender the throne of Scotland. By 1600 the Lord of Livingstone had received the earldom of Linlithgow. The 2nd Earl was made Hereditary Constable of the Royal Palace. A few miles further west is Callendar Park. The Barony of Callendar was granted to Sir William Livingstone by King David II. He accompanied the King in his expedition to England in 1346, and was taken prisoner at the battle of Durham. He was one of four commissioners appointed by the Estates of Scotland to negotiate the ransom of the King, and also for peace between the two nations. He first built a tower house here in 1345 and his descendants lived here and developed the estate until 1747. Their story is told at Callendar House, one of Scotland's finest country houses where staff in period costume recreate the daily life of the past. It also houses the History Research Centre with archives from Falkirk and the surrounding area and exhibitions which detail 600 years of Scottish history. To the south of Callendar Park is Westquarter, to the west is Kilsyth and to the north-west is Dunipace. All are mentioned in the histories of the Grants as homes of the descendants of the Callendar Livingstones. But make your way now to Stirling.
Stirling is a historic city with much to offer its visitors. It is an attractive mix of old and new. For a very different experience visit the Old Town Jail but make sure you plan your escape! The impressive Stirling Castle towers above the river and medieval bridge. Sir James Livingstone of Callendar, first Lord Livingstone, was appointed the captain of the castle. He was also tutor to the young King James II and became Great Chamberlain of Scotland. These times were unsettled and perilous with rival plots and sometimes murder so Sir James had to work hard to protect his young charge. Then journey a mile or so southwest of the city to visit the very poignant site of the Battle of Bannockburn (1314). Robert the Bruce declared himself King of Scotland in 1306 and began a long and arduous campaign to secure his title, finally achieving success at this battle.
Now we will journey to find the origins of another Livingstone family. Travel through the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, through Glen Lochy and the Pass of Brander to Dunbeg. You will have driven through some breath taking landscapes so take your time to enjoy the views. West of Dunbeg on the coast is Dunstaffnage Castle, an impressive fortress. Make your way to Oban and relax after your long drive in this picturesque coastal resort town.
Take the ferry to the small island of Lismore. It lies in Loch Linnhe at the southern end of the Great Glen. It has beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and islands and although it may seem peaceful and remote today, it played an important part in the early history of Scotland. Then the most reliable and fastest transport was by water - imagine yesterday's journey without any proper roads! St Moluag came to Lismore in 561 and founded a monastery. Lismore became the seat of the medieval bishopric of Argyll. The Highland Livingstones came from the Isle of Lismore and the districts of Lorn and Appin in Argyll. They were originally MacLeays. In 1641 James Livingstone of Stirling was the Keeper of the Privy Purse to King Charles I and was granted the lease of the lands and the rights of the bishopric of Argyll. He came to Lismore to Achandu Castle and the MacLeays adopted the name Livingstone. The Argyll Livingstones became the hereditary Keepers of the crozier (pastoral staff) of St. Moluag and received grants of the land in Lismore and the title of Barons of Bachuil. Explore the island to find a Pictish broch, Viking ruins at Castle Coeffin, the palace of Achandu and at Lismore parish church look for Livingstone graves in the graveyard. And along the way, experience the charm of Scottish island life.
Another branch of the MacLeays or Livingstones became followers of the Stewarts of Appin. Return to the mainland and travel a few miles north to Appin and in the bay near Portnacroish you will find Castle Stalker. It was built by Duncan Stewart of Appin in the late 1400's. Enjoy the beautiful scenery around the Firth of Lorne. Continue north to Fort William, and if time allows take a slight detour east to Glencoe (narrow glen). The majestic mountain scenery is as famous as the events which took place there in 1692. A stunning new Visitor Centre can be found at nearby Inverigan where the whole bloody story unfolds in a memorable audio-visual experience. Glencoe's scenery features in a number of Hollywood movies, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban being the most recent. Head northeast to Inverness on the A82, enjoying the view as you pass by Lochs Lochy and Ness. Look out for the fabled monster! You may want to relax and sample the Highland hospitality of Inverness after a busy few days, but if not there's plenty to see. A fine introduction to the area can be found at Inverness Museum.
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. Charles Stewart of Ardsheal led Appin men to break the Redcoat ranks but they were then slain by the Government forces. During the battle Donald Livingstone saved the "White Banner of the Stewarts" and carried it safely back to Appin. Leaving Inverness, your road south leads to the villages of Kingussie and Newtonmore. Here you'll find two fascinating Folk Museums where more than 400 years of Highland life are brought to life in exhibitions which track the everyday experiences of clansman and crofter.
Head south back to Edinburgh. There are plenty of opportunities to break your journey in the picturesque villages and towns, at ruins of ancient castles and magnificent country mansions and at the numerous whisky distilleries and visitor centres along the way. You can return home knowing that you have walked in the footsteps of your noble and ancient ancestors.
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