Descended from the Norse kings of Man and the North Isles, the clan of MacLeod comprised two main branches, the MacLeods of Skye and the MacLeods of Lewis. The MacLeods of Skye established the seat at Dunvegan, which remains the chief’s seat to this day.
The name of this branch of the MacLeod clan, “Siol Tormod” from Tormod, grandson of Olaf the Black, who founded the clan. Tormod’s son supported Robert the Bruce in the War of Independence but, by and large, the MacLeods retained their own spirit of independence through the tortuous politics of fourteenth and fifteenth century Scotland.
The survival of the clan during the reign of James V was due mainly to the 8th chief of Dunvegan, Alasdair Crotach, or “Hump-Back” as he was known. It was during his chieftainship that the famous fairy tower of Dunvegan was built – now hailed as one of the finest monuments in the Hebrides. He was also renowned as a patron of the arts, encouraging such activity as piping and pibroch music.
Another notable chief, Ruaraidh Mor, the 15th chief, continued the work of Alasdair Crotach and succeeded in establishing Dunvegan as the cultural centre of the isles. His name lives on in the shape of a great drinking horn which plays an integral part in the rite of passage of every MacLeod chief. The horn, which holds one and a half bottles of claret must be downed in one draft “without setting down or falling down”.
One of the clan’s most treasured relics is the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan. It is said to have been woven by fairies and to possess magical properties. It has been kept at Dunvegan for centuries and is said to bring luck and fortune to the Clan MacLeod.
Motto: Hold Fast
Lands Skye and Harris
Clan ChiefHugh MacLeod of MacLeod