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CELTIC KNOT  Mac Leod  CELTIC KNOT
of Mac Leod
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Copyright 1995-2014 by Celtic Studio



CREST: A bull's head cabossed Sable, horned Or, between two flags Gules,staves Sable.
MOTTO: Hold fast
TRANSLATION: Stand your ground
PLANT: Juniper
GAELIC NAME: Mac Leoid
ORIGIN OF NAME: Gaelic Mac Leoid ( Son of Leod, from Norse ljot, ugly).
PIPE MUSIC: Mac Leod's Praise
CELTIC INTERLACE KNOT GREEN
CELTIC KNOT  Mac Leod  CELTIC KNOT
of Mac Leod
While so many Highland strongholds lie in ruins today, Dunvegan Castle in Skye, the seat of the chiefs of Siol Tormoid, has been occupied by them for twenty generations during seven centuries. It is therefore of some interest to notice what its muniments do and do not include. There are no title deeds from the King of Scots to whom the islands were ceded in 1266 by the Norwegians under the Treaty of Perth, none from King Robert Bruce whom the Mac Leods supported, a charter for Glenelg on the mainland only from his son David II, none that survive from the days of the Lordship of the Isles, whose vassals the Mac Leods found themselves to be by the stroke of a distant pen. After the fall of the Lordship in 1498 Mac Leod of Dunvegan at last received a charter from the crown, but not for all the possessions that were rightfully his so when successive Stewart sovereigns summoned the Highland chiefs to show the titles to their lands, what did they expect them to exhibit when even the Lords of Dunvegan had been denied proper titles? It was the appalling ineptitude of the central government that compelled clans to fight for their home-acre, just as the Mac Leods in Skye had to fight a losing battle against the Mac Donalds of Sleat for their lands of Trotternish.
But in the time of troubles occasioned by the dismantling of the Lordships, the punitive policies of James IV and James V, and the powers given to the Campbells and the Gordons. Dunvegan was extremely fortunate in the caliber of it's 8th Chief. He was known as Alasdair Crotach (Hump-backed Alexander) as the result of an injury. Although he supported the claimants to the Lordship after its abolition, he succeeded in extricating himself when James V made his expedition to the Hebrides, seizing and imprisoning chiefs on his journey. He even secured a charter to the disputed lands of Trotternish in 1542, the year of James V's death. But it is in the cultural field that Alasdair Crotach is to be remembered especially. He rebuilt the church of Rodel in Harris, the finest that remains in the outer Hebrides, where his tomb is an outstanding example of the monument sculpture of the period. He built the Fairy Tower at Dunvegan, its finest building, and he is said to have been judged largely by the criminal records (often faked) of a distant government that knew nothing of its arts or literature. Dunvegan was to blossom as a centre of these arts after the patronage of the Lordship was destroyed. Here the Beatons came with their ancient learning. Here the new music of pibroch was developed by the Mac Crimmons. Here the most famous Gaelic harper, Roderick Morrison, found his audience.
This achievement is associated particularly with Sir Roderick Mac Leod of Mac Leod the 15th Chief, known as Ruaraidh Mor. He died in 1626 and is immortalised by Patrick Mor Mac Crimmon's lament. By then the Franciscan missionary Cornelius Ward had visited Skye, received Ruaraidh Mor's encouragement to proselytize, and reported to Rome that he was "a very lordly ruler"and a devout Catholic. It is thought that Mary Mac Leod was by then a girl of ten, already in his household at Dunvegan. The simple, lovely language of her poetry has preserved the freshest picture that remains of the society whose passing the Blind Harper, Roderick Morrison, was to lament.
The Mac Leods supported Charles I in the Civil War, and their contingent of about 700 men was annihilated at Worcester, fighting for Charles II in 1651. Stewart ingratitude, and conversion to Calvinism, combined to hold the Mac Leods aloof from the Jacobite risings, so that Boswell and Johnson found the old patriarchal society still intact here when the 22nd Chief entertained them at Dunvegan in 1773.
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