Your Highland Ancestors
There are many compelling reasons for visiting Glen Spean and the Great Glen ...the spectacular scenery... the distinctive culture and traditions ...the renowned Highland hospitality. For many visitors, it is also the chance to make a journey to their ancestral home. Perhaps your forebears were part of the great Scottish surge of emigrants who departed these hills and glens for new lives in North America, Australasia, or elsewhere in Britain?
Your ancestors may have witnessed some of the major events in Scotland's history...the Jacobite Uprisings...the Highland Clearances...the World Wars. They may have served in Scottish regiments raised in this area or have earned the coveted green beret of the Commandos at Achnacarry.
Glen Spean and the Great Glen are associated closely with Clan Cameron. Donald Cameron of Lochiel, XXVII Chief, resides at Achnacarry House, just 6 miles from Spean Bridge. This has been the Cameron chief's ancestral home for over 400 years. It's an idyllic location, lying between Loch Lochy and Loch Arkaig and surrounded by wooded hills. The Camerons have played a notable role in the history of the Highlands. 'Gentle' Lochiel brought out the clan in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. Two centuries later, thousands of Commandos passed through Achnacarry having endured 6 weeks tough basic training.
Today, as well as managing the extensive Lochiel estates, the chief is also head of the worldwide clan family. In 2009 Camerons from around the globe travelled to The Gathering at Achnacarry to celebrate their collective heritage. If you'd like to experience some of the colour and fun of such an occasion, then why not attend one of the many local Highland Games this summer?
Clan and family history research
A great place to start your clan or family history research is at the Clan Cameron Museum at Achnacarry. Its Reading Room is the main repository for records relating to the Camerons of Lochiel, clansfolk throughout the world and the Clan Cameron Association. Assistance will be provided when possible by the Curator and his staff.
A wealth of published and archive information also exists on other local clans, such as the MacDonells of Keppoch and MacDonells of Glengarry, see glengarryheritagecentre.com. Their exploits have featured prominently in the history of Glen Spean and the Great Glen.
Researching your family history may also turn up a few surprises. For example, if you're a MacMillan, MacMartin or MacPhee, then it's likely that your ancestors were from this area. Extensive local genealogical resources can be found in the Lochaber Archive Centre in Fort William. The records date from the 16th century until the present day and can be consulted in the public searchroom.
While you're in Fort William ensure you visit The West Highland Museum. This has fascinating displays relating to Highland social history as well as a famous Jacobite collection.
Family historians should also visit scotlandspeople.gov.uk. This is the official government source of genealogical data for Scotland.