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A History of Clan Campbell

From Origins to Flodden

Alastair Campbell

Hardback (Printed to Order)

The Clan Campbell has long been among the largest of the Scottish highland clans as well as arguably the most powerful. Apart from the intrinsic interest of the clan Campbell, its history is inseparable from the history of Scotland. This is the first of three volumes that will tell the full history of the clan in a depth never before attempted.

The book opens with an investigation of the myths and legends that surround the traditional accounts of the origin of the clan together with a description of the wild and beautiful land of Argyll in which they settled and built up their power-base. Although already of some substance elsewhere in Scotland, the Campbells had to work hard to establish themselves among more powerful neighbours. Chief among these were Somerled's descendants, the MacDougall Lords of Argyll by whom Sir Cailean Mor Campbell was slain at the String of Lorne in 1296.

When Sir Cailean Mor's cousin Robert the Bruce rewarded his loyal Campbell followers he set them on the road to success. The road was by no means a direct one: after the King's death his enemies regained much of the land he transferred to the clan. But the Campbells were by now established as a counterweight to the increasingly wayward Lords of the Isles and over the years their loyalty to the Crown was rewarded by major grants of lands and offices. These allowed the clan to flourish and to extend itself over broad areas of Scotland. As this volume closes the house of Lochawe has emerged as the chiefly line while nearly all the major branches of the clan have become established, notably the Houses of Loudoun, Glenorchy (later Breadalbane) and Cawdor.

This volume ends with the defeat of the Scottish army at Flodden where the Campbell chief together with Campbell of Glenorchy and many of the leading Campbells fell alongside their King. The story of how the clan restored its position will be the subject of Volume 2.

The book is illustrated with ten maps, a genealogy, and twenty pages of plates (four in colour). Substantial appendices explain the structure of the clan and its septs and include a definitive account of the clan tartan.

  • The most in-depth and authoritative history of the Clan Campbell available
  • Builds to a handsome 3-volume hardback set
  • Fully endorsed by the Clan Campbell
  • Illustrated throughout with maps, genealogies, and plates (4 in colour)
  • Includes six substantial appendices with a full genealogical analysis of the Clan
  • Features a definitive account of the Clan's tartans<


List of Black and White Illustrations
List of Colour illustrations
Introduction to the Organisation
List of Patrons
Early Campbell Relationships
Comparative Table of Genealogies
Introduction and Acknowledgements
Maps 1.

About the Author

Alastair Campbell of Airds was, until 2001, Council Member of the National Trust for Scotland, and between 1996 and 2001 held an honorary Research Fellowship at the University of Aberdeen. He is Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Tartan to the Lord Lyon.


This splendid volume … is based on privileged access to the Argyll manuscripts and a deep knowledge of family and local history … Alastair Campbell has a good eye for colour, weaving into his narrative wonderful tales that are part history and part myth…one can only look forward [to] the next part of this finely written and beautifully produced history.
- Times Literary Supplement
On one level this is an interesting, well-written narrative of the early history of the clan ... for the more scholarly reader, this book presents a great deal beyond the narrative history, which is as engaging and supported by the sources as one could wish.
- Darlene M. Hall, Lake Erie College, Scotia