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.
Sempill (or Semple) may not be one of Scotland's best known family names but
the Sempill's were nevertheless very much part of our history. Although Semple
is not a clan in its own right, there are strong bonds of shared heritage and
ancestry among people of this proud name. The current Chief of the name and
arms of Semple/Sempill, Lord Sempill, is rebuilding the community of
descendants via the Semple Family Society.
This itinerary starts in Glasgow near where the clan first enters the history books, and leads you to some of Scotland's most famous places.
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.
Castle Semple near Lochwinnoch is no longer standing but the ruined Semple Collegiate Chapel, built by the first Lord Sempill in 1504 can still be visited. It is situated in Castle Semple Country Park, itself part of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. The castle stood at the east end of the loch. Nearby Paisley Abbey, founded in 1163 is also worth visiting. The Abbey was wealthy and influential. It is believed, for instance, that William Wallace was educated by the monks of Paisley Abbey. The Sempills also have some connections with the Abbey.
It's time to head north to the town of Stirling, best known for its associations with Scotland's hero, William Wallace and the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Less well known is the battle of Sauchieburn which took place near Stirling in 1488 and led to the death of King James III. James was an unpopular King and, backed by his disgruntled nobles, his son James took arms and defeated him at Sauchieburn. Sir Thomas Sempill of Eliotstoun died fighting for his King. 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.
North again, this time to Inverness, the capital of the Highlands. In 1745 Hew Sempill, chief of the name and a professional soldier took the road north towards Inverness in the company of other Government soldiers. At Culloden he held the rank of brigadier general and fought with his regiment on the left wing of the Government army. In the nearby villages of Kingussie and Newtonmore, you'll find two fascinating Highland Folk Museums. Here, more than 400 years of Highland life are brought to life in exhibitions which track the everyday experiences of clansman and crofter.
With the Sempill title being inherited by Sir William Forbes of Craigievar, the family's fortunes became tied, for a time, to the powerful Clan Forbes. Day five of your tour sees you heading east towards Aberdeenshire where the Forbes-Sempill family once owned the magnificent, fairy-tale Craigievar Castle. Now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, the castle, just six miles south of the town of Alford, remains as unspoiled as it was when lived in by the Forbes-Sempill family. You are in Scotland's 'castle and whisky' country now and you should take time to enjoy both.
Today you take the road south and head for Edinburgh, Scotland's magnificent capital. The Sempill/Semple family has a close association with Edinburgh, being based there from the 1740s to the 1870s. Your visit will take you the length of the historic Royal Mile: from Semple Close to Holyrood Abbey where five Sempills are buried. Don't forget to call in at the Scottish Genealogical Society library nearby, too. You'll find plenty of fellow travellers and enthusiastic researchers.
A leisurely return to Glasgow with perhaps a last chance to explore the modern side of this dynamic city.
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