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Scottish Clans, Clubs & Societies.

Ancient, enigmatic, colorful, complex: all of these words describe the clans of Scotland, which are part of the country’s compelling historical journey. The clans of Scotland are a unique element of Scottish history that set the country apart from surrounding territories, like England and Ireland. The tribal nature of clans in Scotland separated the country from its neighbors and is part of the reason why Scottish immigrants to Oklahoma related so easily and quickly began intermarrying with local Native American women.

Historically, a clan was made up of everyone who lived on a chief’s territory, or on the territory of those who owed allegiance to the said chief. Over time, with the constant changes of “clan boundaries”, migration or regime changes, clans would be made up of large numbers of members who were unrelated and who bore different surnames. Often, those living on a chief’s lands would, over time, adopt the clan surname. A chief could add to his clan by adopting other families, and also had the legal right to outlaw anyone from his clan, including members of his own family. Today, anyone who has the chief’s surname is automatically considered to be a member of the chief’s clan. Also, anyone who offers allegiance to a chief becomes a member of the chief’s clan, unless the chief decides not to accept that person’s allegiance. That means that you don’t have to be Scottish or have Scottish heritage to be part of a Scottish clan – you simply have to declare allegiance to a clan that you identify with.

When you attend SCOTFEST, you’ll no doubt notice the dozens of tents belonging to Scottish heritage groups that explore the lineage of a specific clan. Each clan typically has a group of surnames that are historically associated with the clan, as well as their own unique tartan. If you have Scottish heritage and are looking to find your ancestral clan’s tartan, there’s a great chance you’ll find it at SCOTFEST! Tartans were historically created by the clan chief, but the practice actually didn’t become popular until the late 18th century, near the end of the clan era. Clans first emerged around 1100 AD and were originally formed from the descendants of kings. These early clans were a survival tool for the Scottish people at the time, who endured constant battles for land and resources, invasions from the Norse and English, and wars between clans. Scotland’s clan system deteriorated after the Battle of Culloden in 1746, when King George of England ordered his troops to slaughter all supporters of the rebellion, including many Highland clans.

Few countries in the world can boast a life span as rich or diverse as Scotland. The true story of the people, the battles, the nobility and its Kings and Queens, is more thrilling than any novel, and has more love stories than all the Hollywood movies. Scotland’s clans provide Scots everywhere with a point of reference for their identity, history and culture.

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