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 Menzies' ancestors played important roles in the early history of
Scotland. Sir Robert de Meyneris and his heirs gained royal patronage in the
mid 13th century and acquired lands in the southern Highlands, stretching from
Glen Orchy in the west to Atholl in the east in the foothills of the Grampian
This itinerary takes you from the historic cities of Edinburgh and Striling to the magnificent Highlands and Glens of Scotland to visit the lands of your ancestors. It will highlight just a few of the stories and places where Clan Menzies 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 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.
Today travel to Stirling and visit the very impressive Stirling Castle, a favoured retreat of the Stewart monarchs and the childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots. Then travel 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 make his title real, finally achieving success at this battle. The grandson of Sir Robert de Meyneris was companion-in-arms of Bruce and was granted land at Aberfeldy and Weem for his service to the King.
Leave Stirling and head north-west to Lochearnhead, and then turn west along the River Dochart. These lands of Glen Dochart and to the west to Glen Orchy and to the east through Glen Lyon and Strathtay are the ancient lands of Clan Menzies, granted to the clan for services to the rulers of Scotland from as early as King Alexander II in the 13th century. Drive north through the beautiful scenery to the Bridge of Orchy, a small hamlet of white washed buildings. The road passes through the surreal landscape of Rannoch Moor, then on to the mountainous majesty of Glen Coe, (narrow glen). The breathtaking 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. Retrace your path back to Crianlarich and through Glen Dochart, but continue east to Killin at the west end of Loch Tay. Although Menzies settled elsewhere in Scotland the valley of the Tay seems to have been the main power base of the clan. In Killin is the Breadalbane Folklore Centre. The centre overlooks the picturesque waterfalls, Falls of Dochart and is a good place to learn about the story of the Scottish Clans, although not specifically the Menzies.
Finlarig is nearby. This was part of the lands granted to the Menzies by Robert the Bruce. The somewhat dangerous ruins of Black Duncan Campbell's castle can be seen here, together with the beheading pit! Continue along the shore of Loch Tay and if the weather and your driving skills allow take a detour into Glen Lyon, a remote fertile valley in the mountains. Turn north off the road just after Milton Morenish along a steep single track road to the Bridge of Balgie, turn east and drive along Glen Lyon to Fortingall. Glen Lyon, together with Atholl, were lands granted to Sir Robert de Meyneris by King Alexander II. Sir Robert rose to the position of Lord High Chamberlain of Scotland at this time. Alternatively avoid the possibly treacherous route and continue along the shore of Loch Tay and turn off at Fearnan to reach Fortingall. The second grandson of Sir Robert was granted land at Fortingall but this land passed to the Stewarts in the 15th century when the heiress married James Stewart a son of the notorious "Wolf of Badenoch". Fortingall sits in an open space at the eastern end of Glen Lyon. It is one of the most beautiful villages in Scotland with traditional thatched cottages, a 5000 year old yew tree and a legend that claims that this was the birthplace of Pontius Pilate. Two miles further on is Coshieville, with Garth Castle a mile north. Garth Castle is thought to have been built by the "Wolf of Badenoch", Alexander Stewart. A hundred years later in 1502, Neil Goint (Neil the bitter and twisted), married into the Stewart family and inherited the castle. Stories relate how he fell out with his neighbours the Menzies over the possession of lands at Rannoch and after burning Castle Menzies to the ground, imprisoned Sir Robert Menzies in a dungeon and starved him, trying to persuade him to sign over his lands. Fortunately King James IV came to Sir Robert's rescue and he kept his charter to the lands at Rannoch. Retrace this last mile and a few more miles east will bring you to Menzies Castle rebuilt in 1571. It is a splendid noble house and was the seat of the clan chiefs until 1746. Then, Hanoverian forces expelled them because of their allegiance to "Bonnie" Prince Charlie. The castle fell into a dilapidated state. During WWII it was used as a Polish army medical store but more recently was purchased by the Clan Menzies Society to set up as a clan centre.
Nearby are Weem and Aberfeldy, both granted to the Menzies in the 13th century. At the Old Kirk of Weem you can see the Menzies' mausoleum and at Aberfeldy there is a beautiful bridge crossing the River Tay. Aberfeldy became a prosperous cotton milling town in the late 18th century and the clear Tay waters made it an ideal site for whisky distilling. Now head north to Blair Atholl. The seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl, Blair Castle is set in majestic grounds in the heart of highland Perthshire. It has extensive collections of arms and armour, pictures, furniture, porcelain, embroidery and family memorabilia and although a private home, is open to the public. The Menzies have been connected to the Earls of Atholl, having been granted lands in Atholl in the 13th century and by marriages between Stewarts and Menzies. In 1737 Menzies of Culdares (near Fortingall) introduced the larch tree into Scotland. Plants were given to the Duke of Atholl at the time and now the larch can be seen growing on the Blair estate and all over Scotland. If time allows, travel north for just less than 40 miles 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. The experience is well worth the journey.
Now start your journey home and head back to Edinburgh. On the way you will pass through Pitlochry, a bustling and attractive town and a popular tourist destination. Further along is Dunkeld. There have been religious settlements here since 730AD and now the narrow winding streets of the picturesque village lead to the ornate gates of the magnificent Dunkeld Cathedral, set beside the River Tay with rolling hills beyond. Two of the larch saplings given to the Duke of Atholl in 1737 were planted beside the cathedral and are still growing there.
Return to Edinburgh. You can visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the end of the Royal Mile,
and the new Scottish Parliament building 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
Return home, knowing that you have walked in the footsteps of some of your ancient ancestors.
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