Clan Campbell history - Scotland Magazine

Clan Campbell history

Clan Campbell showed unwavering loyalty to the Crown and were rewarded with a prestigious title

The name ‘Campbell’ means ‘crooked mouth’ in Gaelic, presumably a reference to the appearance of an ancestor. The clan is found mainly in Argyll, on the west coast of Scotland, though cadet branches are also found throughout the country.

The earliest known Campbell is one Gilleasbaig of Menstrie, who lived in the 13th century. He was the father of Cailean Mór Caimbeul, allegedly a cousin of Robert the Bruce.

Throughout history the Campbells have supported the throne, and during the Jacobite Rising of 1745/46 they fought on the Hanoverian side at the Battle of Culloden. 

The darkest moment in the clan’s history, however, came at the Massacre
of Glencoe in 1692, when 38 unarmed members of Clan MacDonald were killed by Campbell troops to whom they had offered food and shelter. The reason? A direct order to punish the clan for the perceived lateness of the MacDonald chief swearing allegiance to William and Mary, after they ascended the throne in 1689.

In 1701 the Campbells became the Dukes of Argyll. The 3rd Duke, Archibald, built the present-day Inveraray Castle in 1743, which is now open to the public.

There are four recognised Campbell tartans. The main Campbell tartan is also the tartan of the Black Watch (pictured). There are also tartans for the Campbells of Breadalbane; the Campbells of Cawder; and the Campbells of Loudoun.
The clan crest is “on a boar’s head erased fess ways erased Or, armed Argent, langued Gules”. The motto is “Ne Oblivascaris” (“Forget Not”).

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READ MORE: Clan Armstrong history | Clan Stewart history



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