What does Stc mean in Scotland

Scottish clans

The tribal system of the clans probably goes back to the Celtic ancestors of the Scots. The word is derived from Gaelic and means descendant, family or tribe.

The history of the Scottish clans

The clans' sense of togetherness was primarily created by the Wars of Independence (1296-1314). The 21 clans that gathered around Robert Bruce on the battlefield of Bannockburn had a common goal: the freedom of the Scottish people from any foreign rule. But the winners could also be sure of the generous distribution of lands and titles; the vanquished were driven out. Most of the clans had established themselves by the end of the 14th century.

Names of clans

As a rule, the members of a clan trace their ancestry back to a common ancestor who founded the clan and gave it his name. "Mac" or "Mc" is prefixed to many Scottish family names and means something like "son of" (comparable to the name affix "Ben" or "Bin", which is common among the Semitic peoples). Some clans also bear the name of their home area. According to historiography, the clans were formed in the Scottish Highlands to ward off the invading Normans; but probably also against the advancing Anglo-Saxons in the south-east of the British Isles.


Head of a clan was the chief. He was both supreme warlord and judge. He guaranteed protection for the members of the clan who, in turn, went into battle with him in the event of the quite frequent disputes with neighboring clans, as well as when the king ordered the clan contingent in the event of war.

Elective heirs

The next important person in the clan structure was the electoral heir. He had to protect the clan's interests for the future. In the event of succession disputes, he decided who should be the new chief. This could well mean that a capable warrior or leader was given preference over the direct heir. The clan consisted of blood relatives of the clan chief as well as strangers who placed themselves under the protection of the clan.

The clan community

When a clan reached a certain size, it was divided into branches, which were led by the sons of the clan chief or other important persons of the clan. However, the chief's rule over the entire clan did not affect this. In order to strengthen cohesion within the community, for example, one's own children were placed with foster families in order to put the feeling of loyalty towards the clan above family ties. Belonging to a clan did not only mean to be integrated into a social network, but also included the payment of taxes and the obligation to do military service for the master.

Clan disputes

Splits and rifts, of which there are countless reports, were the rule within the clan groupings. The only time when a truly sizeable number of clans worked together and pulled together was during the support of the Stewart Dynasty in the 18th century.

The constantly smoldering clan disputes, often centuries old, sometimes weakened the armed forces. Jealous care was taken to ensure that the clan's privileges were preserved. The fighting strength and morale of the troops at the already almost hopeless Battle of Culloden was undermined by the fact that the Stewarts clan was assigned the right flank of the front. However, this privilege had been granted to the MacDonalds since the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Consequences of the defeat of Culloden for the clans

As a result of the defeat of Culloden in 1746, all signs of belonging to the Highland clans, such as wearing the kilt and playing the bagpipes, were forbidden. Many of the clans involved were driven from their land. This meant the decline of the traditional system. The influence of the feudal system also spread across the highlands. In the eyes of many clan chiefs, the clan members who had settled in the traditional areas were no longer protected, but rather uneconomical tenants.

Clan categories

A distinction is made between three different categories of clans. The most important group included the clans of the Campbells, MacDonalds, Gordons and perhaps the Chattans and MacKenzies, who ruled over large areas. They all smashed smaller clans or took them and their lands over either by force, by marriage or by clever political tactics. In addition, they often had great political influence at the national level.

The second category with a little less influence were the Frasers, the Gunns, the MacPhersons, the MacLachlans, the MacLeans, and the MacLeods. This also included small family groups such as the Kennedy clan.

Finally, there were clans that had titles or names, for example "Clan of the Night" (the Morrisons of Mull), "Clan of the British" (the Galbraith family of Gigha) or the "Clan of the children of Raigns" (the Rankins).

Home of the clans

In general, the clans are connected to the highlands and islands and only to a lesser extent to central Scotland, where such kinship groups were displaced very early by the feudal system.

When Scotland and England had long been united under the British Crown and the Lowlands were pacified, some clans were still entrenched in the impassable bulwark of the highlands.

Destruction of the clan essence

After the last Jacobite uprising in 1746 and the Battle of Culloden, the highlands were annihilated and their armed forces were finally broken with the new Disarmament Act. In addition to the defeat, the highland culture, the social structure and the clan nature were smashed with legal means. For the Scottish lowlands, the eradication of the highland resistance was a relief.

Up until the breakup of the clan in the highlands, Scotland was divided into two nations: one was commercially oriented and endeavored to adopt English customs, the other was agriculturally oriented, largely opposed to its southern neighbors and made none of its Celtic temperament Secret.

The current situation of the Scottish clans

Today the clans only live in the historical dimensions and inspire book authors and filmmakers. At the time of their final defeat, they had long since become an economic and social burden from the perspective of the lowlands, and the people were facing an acid test. But for the people of the highlands, the abolition of the old order meant the tragic and irretrievable loss of an important element of their culture.

After the Battle of Culloden, many clan chiefs and families fled abroad. The consequences of the resulting redistribution of the lands to immigrant highlands were the lack of interest of the new masters in the social structure of the respective local clans and instead the enforcement of their own economic interests, the spread of grazing by sheep on a large scale and the expulsion of the rural population.

The greatest problem was now the responsibility of the landlords for the people on their land. The old clan system had died, and even where the chiefs still owned the land, they could no longer feed the immigrant population. The remaining old clan chiefs and heads of families still felt responsible for the people living on their property and were thus in a bind.

On the huge pastures, which were once bearable enough to fatten cattle and grow grain, sheep were soon kept, which brought the landlords quick and better profits. The clan members were often forcibly evicted from their lease. Huts that were not voluntarily evacuated were set on fire by stewards. Tens of thousands emigrated to North America, Australia and New Zealand.