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 Napier is one of Scotland's smallest clans, but also amongst its oldest.
An exploration of your Napier heritage will take you to the so-called central
belt of Scotland, with the ancient capital city of Edinburgh as your main
focus. Napier University in the heart of Edinburgh has a close connection with
the clan and hosts its web site.
The Napiers are believed to be descendants of the Celtic earldom of Lennox and there is a close similarity between the Napier and Lennox coats of arms. The name itself is almost certainly derived from the term 'Napper', the Keeper of the Linen in a royal or lordly household.
Arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland's magnificent historic capital. Here, 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.
If time allows, call in at the nearby Scottish Genealogical Society library in Victoria Terrace where 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.
Perhaps the most famous branch of the family is the Merchiston Napiers, whose estate stretched from Gorgie Road in the North of the city to the Jordan burn in the south. The Merchiston Tower was built in the middle or highest part and has now been restored as part of the Napier University campus. It can be visited by prior arrangement with the University.
The Napiers of Merchiston had a long and distinguished career occupying many important positions in the city. William de Napier was governor of Edinburgh Castle in 1401 and his son was Provost of Edinburgh in 1437. From the battlements of Edinburgh Castle you can enjoy commanding views out over both the New and Old towns of Edinburgh. Remember that where you see the New Town, your ancestor William de Napier would have seen only fields!
The single most famous Napier was possibly John Napier (the 8th Laird of Merchiston) who is known as John of Logarithms. He was born in 1550 and matriculated at St Andrews University when he was only 13 - but did not graduate! In inventing logarithms he made a considerable impact on the study of mathematics for many centuries. Its time to leave your exploration of Edinburgh for now and make the short journey north to St. Andrews to visit his old place of learning. As well as its academic fame, St. Andrews is also known as the home of Scottish golf so don't forget to bring your clubs.
Strike west today through the green landscape of Fife and on to Stirling, so closely associated with Scotland's turbulent past. The Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 has passed into Scottish legend, thanks to the cunning and ruthlessness shown by William Wallace against the English. You can visit the scene of the battle for yourself, where the imposing National Wallace Monument offers spectacular views of the area. Time should also be made for a visit to the impressive Stirling Castle, a favoured royal retreat for the Stuart dynasty and the childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots. One of your ancestors, John Naper of Dumbarton, assisted Edward I in the defence of Stirling Castle in 1314.
Continuing west through the rich farmland of West Stirlingshire, an area with a close association with the Napiers, you will arrive at Kilmahew Castle on the north side of the village of Cardross, just four miles from Dumbarton. The Kilmahew Napiers were the direct ancestors of many of the Napiers presently in the United States. Kilmahew Castle is now a ruin. Nearby lies a chapel believed to date from early Christian times. The chapel was renovated in 1955 and rededicated in 1997 during a service attended by Colonel John Hawkins Napier III from Alabama. The chapel offers a chance to pause and reflect on your ancestral heritage.
Today you arrive in the cosmopolitan city of Glasgow, Scotland's largest urban centre and a popular destination for a short break. Glasgow's fine museums and galleries are complemented by the Mitchell Library, one of the largest public reference libraries in Europe and home of the city archives. The Kilmahew Napiers produced many eminent men in marine engineering during the 19th century. A visit to Clydebuilt - the Scottish Maritime Museum in Braehead is a must, therefore. Robert Napier, popularly known as the father of Clyde shipbuilding developed innovative new steam engines for ships and from 1840 to 1865 his firm provided the entire Cunard fleet with their engines.
Return to Edinburgh to complete your journey of exploration. Start at the top of the Royal Mile and walk downhill, enjoying the sights and sounds of this historic area. The family vault of the Napier family may be seen at St Giles Cathedral. The impressive cathedral is Presbyterianism's Mother Church and contains the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle (Scotland's chivalric company of knights headed by the Queen). Continuing down the Royal Mile you will come to the Museum of Edinburgh at Huntly House where carved stones once the property of the Napiers of Wrichtishousis can be found. The Palace of Holyroodhouse at the end of the Royal Mile forms a fitting end to this historic walk.
Before leaving Scotland, and Edinburgh, behind you might like to relax and enjoy one of the excellent bus tours of the city or take a stroll through the elegant New Town.
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