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 Melvilles, originally from Normandy, settled in 12th century Scotland and
gave their name to the lands of Midlothian and Fife. Today the family seat is
in Nairnshire, on the southern coast of the Moray Firth. Over the centuries
they have played an active part in the political and diplomatic affairs of
Scotland and elsewhere.
This itinerary highlights just a few of the stories and places where the Melvilles have left their mark in Scotland, taking you to the eastern Scottish Border country, the Kingdom of Fife and through the Scottish Highlands. 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 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.
Travel six miles south east from the city to find Melville Castle, which is now a luxury hotel. The castle was commissioned by the first Viscount Melville in 1786 and is an impressive and architecturally important building. Before this a medieval castle occupied the site. Continue east to Dunbar, on the coast. It is sited around a natural harbour protected by a rocky outcrop, the location of the remains of Dunbar Castle. The castle was once the mightiest castle in Scotland. It had a long and tumultuous history, being besieged many times. Sir John Melville of Raith, a favourite of James V was appointed captain of the castle. It was finally destroyed by order of the Scottish Parliament after the abdication of Mary Queen of Scots. The settlement around the castle suffered as a consequence of its location and was repeatedly destroyed by fire. Now it is a picturesque town with several golf clubs and a beautiful beach. Travel on around the coast, down to the walled town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, now in England. As an important military town on the border between Scotland and England, Berwick has changed hands many times over its long history. In 1296 Edward I of England came to Berwick and ordered all the great barons of Scotland to swear allegiance to him by signing and sealing a great document now known as the Ragman Roll. Sir John de Melville, an ancestor of the captain of Dunbar Castle was one of the 2000 who signed the roll. Berwick is a very picturesque town and at the Berwick Barracks you can see how life here has had a military influence, including the history of the King's Own Scottish Borderers who were first raised as a regiment by David the 3rd Earl of Leven, and who later inherited the earldom of Melville.
Retrace your steps and travel north through Edinburgh and on to Kinross, where you will find Loch Leven. Lochleven Castle stands on an island in the loch and is a remarkably complete example of a castle enclosure; well worth exploring. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned here in 1567. The area to the east, the Kingdom of Fife, encompasses the lands of Leven, Murdocairnie and Monimail where the Melvilles earned and inherited charters and titles over the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Explore the country roads and hamlets to discover Balgonie Castle to the east of Glenrothes. This was the seat of the Earl of Leven. Then find Monimail where the remains of the Monimail Tower are part of the walls of Melville House. Also in the grounds are the remains of the 17th century Palace of Monimail which was the official residence of the Archbishops of St Andrews. The nearby Melville Tomb has recently been renovated by the Collessie community. Stop off in the historic city of St Andrews.
Now head north along the scenic coastal route towards Aberdeen, turning to the north-west to Forres, Macbeth country. Forres has been a royal burgh since 1140 and is one of the oldest and most attractive Scottish towns. South of Furness is Glenfurness, the home of the current clan chief David Alexander Leslie Melville, Lord Balgonie. On your way north to Nairn spend a few minutes to see Ardclach Bell Tower, recently restored. Nairn museum tells the story of the families who lived and worked in Nairnshire and a few miles south is the fairy-tale Cawdor Castle . Linked with Macbeth by Shakespeare the castle is owned by the ancestors of the medieval Thanes of Cawdor. The castle is encompassed by three gardens, a golf course and a wood, through which a path leads to the garden at the Cawdor dower house which was inspired by Tibet's Tsangpo Gorges. Further west is the battleground of Culloden where, in April 1746, 'Bonnie' Prince Charlie's Jacobite rebellion was crushed by Government forces. This is a truly atmospheric place and well worth a visit if time allows. Stay overnight in Inverness, the beautiful, bustling capital of the Highlands.
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. Before reaching Edinburgh, just a few miles to the west of the capital is 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 now a magnificent ruin lying between the town and Linlithgow Loch. Mary Queen of Scots was born here and Sir Robert Melville of Murdocairnie was Keeper of the Palace at the end of her reign. Later, Sir Robert was made Vice Chancellor of Scotland and took the title Lord Murdocairnie.
Before leaving Scotland, and Edinburgh behind, you might like to relax and enjoy
one of the excellent bus tours of the city and visit the imposing
Edinburgh Castle, where your ancient ancestor Galfrid
de Maleville was Guardian of the castle in the 12th century, during King
Malcolm's reign. Explore the famous Royal Mile in the old Town or take a
stroll through the elegant New Town.
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The information contained in this itinerary is as supplied to VisitScotland and to the best of VisitScotland's knowledge was correct at the time of publication. VisitScotland can accept no responsibility for any errors or omissions.
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