Inverary Castle and the Clan Campbell

Scotland sunrise

Please notice that this is a sunrise photo.  Why was I up this early?  Because I fell asleep again right after dinner.  Sunrise is not something I normally experience, but I was certainly glad I was awake for this one.  This is the sunrise over Scotland, the Highlands in the distance.  This is the home of my ancestors, the Campbell and Younger families, and all of the Mc names in my tree.  McDowell, McKee, McMahon, McNeil and McSpaden.

We woke up this morning to rain.  Shortly after that, we were treated to something else.  Bagpipes.  I opened the door to the cabin on the cruise ship and looked outside.  Standing alone, in the rain, on the dock, was a single bagpipe player.  The mournful sound of the bagpipes took me back in time, to another time and place, in the remote Highlands, where another bagpipe player played in the rain.  That sound, like no other, stirred my soul.

Scotland bagpiper

Welcome home.  That’s the same thing my cousin, the Duke of Argyl who is the Campbell heir and carries the Campbell surname, said to me today.  And that is how it felt here in the Scottish Highlands, the lands my ancestors left some nearly 300 years ago.  Their blood in me rejoiced.  I now understand why Mary Herrell said she wanted to be put up on the mountain ledge when she died and her soul taken back to Ireland.  There is a part of you that never leaves your homeland.

Scotland highlands

The Highlands are magnificent in their stark beauty.

Scotland highlands 2

I remember one time Daryl, my cousin, and I were driving through some remote area of Claiborne County, Tennessee trying to figure out where George Campbell lived (below) and she said to me that the terrain reminded her of the highlands of Scotland.

Geo Campbell Land 008 crpped

Now I understand why the Scotch-Irish were so attracted to the Appalachian mountain highlands, the frontiers and why they were not afraid of battles.  Life here was a battle, even when no one was attacking.

Driving up into the Highlands, we stopped at the summit of the gap that is called “Rest and Be Thankful.”  It’s named appropriately, believe me, as shown below.  I suspect it was probably the horses and draft animals that were most thankful for the rest at the top.


At Rest and Be Thankful, travelers have long welcomed the chance to draw their breath and enjoy the view as they cross the summit at 860 feet on the road that leads from Loch Long to Loch Awe via Glen Croe.

In the beginning, of course there wasn’t a road at all.  There was just a track, a path, made by generations of travelers, and beaten out by herds of black cattle being taken by drovers from Argyll to the Trysts and cattle markets of the Lowlands.  The making of the road, in any sense that we would now recognize it, had to wait until the 18th century. Some work was done in the 1730s on the roads in Argyll by the local government agencies, the Commissioners of Supply.  However, the real impetus for the road building came after the 1715 and 1719 Jacobite Uprisings.  General George Wade was sent to the Highlands to examine the military situation.  His report made a number of recommendations, including the construction of forts at various points and the development of a network of roads to link them.

In 1743 it was decided to construct 44 miles of military road from Dumbarton to Inveraray, via Loch Lomond-side, Tarbet, Arrochar, Glen Croe and thus down to Loch Fyne.  Major Caulfield, Wade’s Inspector of roads and successor as mastermind of the Highland roads network, was ordered to survey the route.  Work started that summer, although the progress was interrupted by the outbreak of the 1745 Jacobite Uprising.

Argyll and Inveraray, its capital was strongly Hanoverian, pro-government, firmly under the control of the Duke of Argyll, a Campbell of course, one of the leading figures in the government of Scotland.  So what military purpose was to be served by this road?  It was hardly likely that a detachment from the garrison at Dumbarton would be marched to Loch Fyne to put down an insurrection in the peaceful glens of Argyll.

Two possible reasons exist for the high priority given to this road.  The first may have been to allow the pro-government forces that could be raised in Argyll – and indeed a regiment of the Argyll Militia fought in the Culloden campaign – to move swiftly from Loch Fyne to wherever they might be needed. The other reason was perhaps less straight forward, but perhaps more plausible – to provide a conveniently smooth road to and from the Lowlands for the Duke of Argyll.  The connection between the road and the Duke was emphasised by Caulfield – when the road was nearly finished, money was running out and there was a danger that a bridge at Inveraray could not be completed,  Caulfield wrote “this will hurt a great man for the bridge is at his door,” as indeed it was, being barely a mile from Inveraray Castle, the Duke’s seat.

After Culloden, work recommenced, and by 1748 troops from the 24th Regiment – later the South Wales Borderers – had made the road over the summit of Glen Croe and erected a stone seat with the legend “Rest And Be Thankful,” shown below.  Completion of the road to Inveraray was achieved by 1749.

Rest and be thankful

On the way to Inverary Castle today, we visited Loch Lomond, the largest inland lake.  The village of Luss sits on the edge of the lake and is quite beautiful.


This village looks a bit like a storybook.

Inverary is on Loch Fyne, on the other side of “Rest and Be Thankful.”

Lochs are the same things as fjords but are called lochs here.  They are tidal, in some cases, very tidal.  The scenery is incomparable, although I fully understand why my ancestors left.  Land was not available and with the religious and political changes and upheaval, it was leave or perish.  This lands lush, stark beauty must have lived in their souls for the rest of their lives, and their descendants as well as a distant memory. Loch Lomond below.

Loch Lomond

The Castle of Inverary itself was built in the early 1700s, probably just before my ancestors left for America.  They would have known this castle, most likely, but would have thought of it as the “new castle.”  Earlier castles are in ruins and located elsewhere, but this castle was built of the remains of a fort built in the 1400s, so our ancestors probably knew that fort quite well.  This castle is very beautiful however, and it sooths my soul to be someplace my ancestors walked and lived for centuries, maybe millennia.  Just down the loch a ways is Campbeltown too.  Three guesses how it received its name.

Inverary castle

The entrance to the castle spans what is today, a dry mote.

Inverary entrance

Inverary estate

Castle armory room below.  My ancestors likely used these arms.

Inverary armour room

As luck would have it, the Duke himself was in the gift shop signing books.  He’s my cousin, many times removed, and he was most gracious – inviting me back anytime.   Although I’m sure though he didn’t mean to stay in the family area of the castle:)  That’s the two of us in the photo below.  It was so much fun to meet him.  He is very much a gentleman and he personally cut fabric for me – yes – I bought Campbell tartan plaid wool.  I have no idea what I’ll do with it, but certainly something interesting.

For anyone who is interested in the history of the castle, the Duke and Duchess have had the castle interior professionally photographed and have written a book about the history of the Castle and the Campbell Clan.  I highly recommend this book.  You can purchase it online along with other Clan Campbell items.

Me and the Duke

Loch Fyne, below, at Inverary Castle, which is located just on the other side of the bridge.

Loch Fine

This area is tidal….the water comes and goes throughout the day revealing mud flats from time to time.  This is of course the bridge being referenced as at the end of the “Rest and Be Thankful” road which leads to Inverary Castle.

Loch Fine bridge

We ate in a lovely Pub at Loch Fyne where the placemats were slate tiles.

slate placemat

The roofs here are slate too.  When you have this much moisture, you don’t build anything out of wood.

slate roofs

I also understand the woolen industry now too.  Everything here needed to be wool.  Wool was warm, even when wet, which is everyday, all day long, and everyone needed wool breaches.

In one of our stops, we did find a lovely woolen mill where the local wool is made into charming and useful items, all wool, of course.

I so wanted a pair of those warm woolen kilt socks!!!  I had been cold for days.  I bought a pair of heavy knitted woolen socks for myself and my daughter and in the middle of January, she sent me an e-mail with this photo and the title “Best Socks Ever.”  Yep, those Scots knew what they were doing.  I would love to have a few more pairs of these!  Sounds like a good reason to return:)

wool socks

We made our way back through quaint villages to the boat.  We took a ferry across the Frith of Clyde, the estuary of the River Clyde as it enters the sea.  The bus would be driven on to the ferry and the entire bus transported across the frith.  I decided that I needed a Dramamine when I discovered that was the plan.  The bus is bad enough and the boat is bad enough, but a bus on a boat. Dramamine is terrible to chew!!

Bagpipes, now more than one lonely wet person, bade us farewell.  A lovely sendoff and so fitting.

Scotland bagpipers

Our towel guy tonight, Nessie of course, wears a Campbell tartan scarf in front of a Celtic cross ornament and a book about the Clan Campbell.

Nessie towel guy

Clan Campbell

In traditional genealogies of the Clan Campbell, its origins are placed amongst the ancient Britons of Strathclyde.  However the earliest Campbell in written records is Gillespie who is recorded in 1263.  Early grants to Gillespie and his relations were almost all in east-central Scotland.  However the family’s connection with Argyll came some generations before when a Campbell married the heiress of the O’Duines and she brought with her the Lordship of Loch Awe.  Because of this the early clan name was Clan O’Duine and this was later supplanted by the style Clan Diarmid.  This name came from a fancied connection to Diarmid the Boar, a great hero from early Celtic mythology.

The original seat of the Clan Campbell was either Innis Chonnell Castle on Loch Awe or Caisteal na Nigheann Ruaidh on Loch Avich. The clan’s power soon spread throughout Argyll.  However, at first the Campbells were under the domination of the Lords of Lorne, chiefs of Clan MacDougall.  The MacDougalls killed the Campbell chief Cailean Mór (Colin Campbell) in 1296.  All of the subsequent chiefs of Clan Campbell have taken MaCailein Mor as their Gaelic patronymic.

Between 1200 and 1500 the Campbells emerged as one of the most powerful families in Scotland, dominant in Argyll and capable of wielding a wider influence and authority from Edinburgh to the Hebrides and western Highlands.

The Clan Campbell DNA Project at Family Tree DNA has 613 members, including a couple different family members of my Campbell line.  The Duke of Argyl, a Campbell himself, of course, provided a Campbell timeline on the Inverary Castle website.

You know those “two brothers” stories?  Everyone has them.  Well, there really were two brothers, John and George Campbell born in the 1770s and found in Claiborne County, TN in the early 1800s.  We believe their father was Charles Campbell of Hawkins County, Tennessee, but unfortunately, the deed signed by his children to sell his property after his death was never filed in the clerk’s office, so we don’t’ know who signed.  Subsequent deeds only refer to the unfiled deed and the “Campbell heirs.”  Heartbreaking.  Enough to make you want to pull your hair out!

We know from a deed signed during Charles’ lifetime that he did have sons John and George, and we know that the man whose daughters the two Campbell sons married lived not far in Hawkins County from Charles Campbell who died in early 1825.  John and George Campbell married Jane and Elizabeth Dobkins, respectively, about 1800 or just before, daughters of Jacob Dobkins and Dorcas Johnson.

According to the Campbell DNA project and other associated documents, trees and webpages provided by Kevin Campbell, the project administrator, it appears that my line does indeed descend from the Campbell Clan of Argyl.  We are grouped in group 30, which includes the Campbell family of Argyl.

Clan Campbell DNA cropped2

I may never know exactly how I’m related to the Duke of Argyl, but thanks to DNA, my very generous Campbell cousins who tested, and the Campbell DNA project, I know for sure that I am.  And thanks to the generosity of the family of the Duke of Argyl sharing Inverary Castle with the rest of us, I can visit my homelands.  It makes a difference when you know for sure that you are visiting your family ancestral land.  Standing literally where your ancestors stood 500 years ago, and further, back into “time out of mind.”

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell of Glenorchy who died in 1480.

Archibald Campbell

Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll, who led the Campbell forces in 1645 at the Battle of Inverlochy.

Campbell black watch

The Black Watch, or Campbell Tartan.

If you’d like to hear “The Campbell’s Are Coming” on pipes and drums, click here.  In the historical tidbit category, this was played by the Union as the Iron Brigade marched down the Emmitsburg Road on their way to McPherson’s Ridge at Gettysburg.

“The Campbell’s Are Coming” is the pipe hymn of the Clan Campbell, composed in 1715 by a local piper, inspired by a wedding.  The Gaelic name of the tune is “Baile Ionaraora” or “the town of Inverary.”  For more info and to hear the bagpipe version, click here.

Clan Campbell current coat of arms

Coat of Arms of the current head of the Clan Campbell, the 13th Duke of Argyll.



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

44 thoughts on “Inverary Castle and the Clan Campbell

      • I was that lonely wet piper. In the morning there is only one piper playing, occasionally two of us play. In the evening a band plays while the ship leaves the port.
        I was glad to hear the sound stirred your soul.

        • John,
          I’m so glad to hear from you. The power of the internet. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. I can still hear you play in my heart. Thank you ever so much. Are there any links online to you playing? Roberta

  1. Hi Roberta,
    I enjoy your blog very much and have learned so much about DNA from you. I will be traveling to Scotland (Clan Galbraith’s of Culcreuch Castle) for a week in August and four weeks in England to visit ancestral locations. I believe some of our ancestors came from the same areas, maybe even the same villages. My earliest ancestor’s in the US came to Jamestown in the 1600s. Reading about your adventures in the UK have really gotten me excited about this trip.
    Thanks for your hard work,

      • I can’t wait! My Scottish ancestor was not as honorable as yours — Culcreuch Castle was the seat of Clan Galbraith from 1320 – 1624 when it was sold to a cousin to settle gambling debts.

  2. WOW! I have Campbells from Inverary, Argyleshire, too.

    My Wiliams – Tate- Branch – Standridge- Wallace (think Braveheart) – Campbell family lines go to Ormelie Duncan Campbell (1645-1705) and before.

    Many of my Scottish ancestors were involved tin the Scottish Presbyterian (Alexanders, Maxwells and Rutherfords, et al) dissenting of the Church of Scotland and England and were forced to Ireland and then to America,

    Thanks for sharing


    Steve in Oro Valley

    • Hello Steve,
      My name is Stephen Mitchell. My brother lives in Oro Valley. I took a quick look at your tree and we have a lot of surnames in common. Apparently, we also have FTDNA’s Campbell group 30 folks in common.
      stephenmitchelljpl is a y addie.

  3. Thank you, Roberta, for another delightful “journey.” I have no Scottish ancestry, to my knowledge, but the names of places are so musical. They just roll off the tongue as I read them.

  4. Off point, but funny. Years ago, I was in a museum somewhere in the UK and happened to be wearing a “Black Watch” jacket. People kept coming up to me asking questions about the museum………..I looked around and realized the guides/docents were also wearing “Black Watch”. LOL

  5. I love taking these “trips” with you, Roberta. I can smell the smells and hear the sounds. . . Thank you for another great journey.

  6. Beautiful. Thank you for the photos. My Rhea lineage of Tennessee and Ulster claim to be descendant of a Matthew Campbell who changed his name and fled (after imprisonment). I suspect they are related but not paternally to the Earl of Campbell lineages.

  7. If one has time to read more books, one I suggest on the Scots-Irish in America is “The Other Irish” by Karen F. McCarthy; enjoyable reading.

  8. Pingback: Stories about Surname Origins | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  9. Pingback: Invergordon, Braveheart, Urquhart Castle and my Birthday | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  10. Pingback: Big Y Matching | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  11. Loving your wonderful posts. I just found your blog tonight. I checked on my FTDNA and we match, and I asked to join the Campbell DNA project. I can’t wait to show my Dad all of this wonderful info. Thanks so much for all you do, cousin. Best, Holly

  12. Roberta, please forgive the multiple comments, but I matched you through William P. Campbell on FTDNA. Is this one the lines that descend from the Dukes of Argyll?

    I also am descended from the Grigsbys of Hawkins County which I saw that you mentioned in a post. How interesting that they were neighbors to our Campbells! All things connect. Here is John Grigsby’s will. We’re not completely sure who his father is. DAR eliminated the line from him to a possible father (as a DAR member, I would like to research this further to see if I agree or if anything else can be found.)

    Take care and have a great weekend!

  13. My surname is also Campbell and im searching for my decendants my relatives here in jamaica in the west indies are long livers and ive heard them talking about my ancesters coming from scotland id like to know how to trace my ancesters back to my time seeing that some of the Campbells had to fled and are all over the globe id love to make that connection.

    • Assuming you are a biological male, the first thing to do is take the Y DNA test at Family Tree DNA and see if you match the Inverary Campbell line. The link to the Family Tree DNA website is on the sidebar of this blog.

  14. I found your blog while researching the Campbells and Rhea ancestors who settled in Augusta County, Virginia, and who came to Tennessee with John Sevier. I am from South Carolina, but have been working in Knoxville, and visiting sites in Tennessee and Virginia.

    The mother’s side of my ancestors are the MacEwens, who owned Loch Fyne for about 500 years, before turning it over to the Clan Campbell. If you have McKees in your ancestry, I have traced an entire family of them from Ireland, to South Carolina, and from there to Georgia, Alabama, and some off to Tennessee.

    Because some of my family have lived on the same farms since 1740, we have a good deal of family history in America, which has not been lost.

    I would like to hear more about your Rhea ancestors, and relationships of Rheas and Campbells, and compare notes.

  15. My name is Troy Allen Campbell my father was George Campbell of hazard KY this last couple weeks I have been doing my family tree. I just really need some one to look it over because I have had to of made a mistake and I have been trying to get ahold of clan Campbell to look this over but I have had no response yet so if Roberta Estes could contact me as soon as possible on messenger on facebook I live in Seymour Indiana

  16. Roberta, been following your blog for a couple years only, so I probably missed this when it first came out. My Joseph Mitchell is my brick wall 1791 NC. I have taken almost every test FTDNA offers, or at least my wallet thinks so.Only one Mitchell line has shown up in my Ydna matches. Almost all my matches are Campbell, McCutcheon, Thompson and a Rayburn. Many seem from around Augusta VA at some point in time. I am currently placed in Campbell group 30 in the Campbell project. My BigY has my haplogroup as FGC10117. Of course, the only Campbells I have in my family tree are not in my male line. My dad’s mom’s line does have Campbell folks marrying Morrow and White family members. One of these days I will run across those Campbells in the records somewhere. In the meantime, it appears we may be distant cousins.

  17. Excellent story. My wife’s brother’s DNA result is on that snippet of group 30 Y DNA of the Campbell group. You and her are cousins of the Campbell Clan. My wife and I were at the Inverary Castle in Sept 2016. Sadly the Duke was not in residence the day of our visit. But have dome greay photos and fond memories of our visit.

    • I am in that same group 30. Decided to trace the closest hit back through John Campbell of Rich Valley, Smyth, Virginia and did see a couple Mitchells associated with the family. Was interested to see that parts of the descendant family ended up in Nacogdoches TX where some of my other lines had settled, but not any Mitchells that I am aware of. I did the BigY test and currently am slotted in the FGC10117 haplogroup, but this may be revised to a descendant group pending results of an ongoing analysis.

      • Just to flesh my comment out a little more, I have 56 Campbell surname matches at 67 test level starting from a genetic distance of 3 (James Bond Campbell 1796), and 5 Campbell matches at 111 test level all with the same genetic distance of 10. Genealogically I have a wife of 5th great grandfather Thomas Peyton Martin Sr 1767 from Henry VA married to Arabella Campbell. Another Campbell married to John Wallace 1550, Mary Campbell 1696 married to Moses White, All these Campbells are from my dad’s mothers side, so probably do not account for all those ydna hits I have gotten.

  18. Roberta, we are going to Scotland again in August for the Military Tatoo and this time we will have a car to travel around. We will visit Inveraray Castle and also drive to Kilmun to the Campbell Mausoleum. Do you know the history of why they decided to put the Mausoleum in that more southern location?

  19. I am Kathleen Campbell Hammon, daughter of Walker Aylett Campbell, of Old Church, Va., son of Dr. Walker Campbell and Rose Tilghman who was third cousin of Dr. Campbell. Dr. Campbell’s brothers all became Virginia doctors themselves. Daddy’s brothers were John, George, and Tilghman.
    I will be singing with Voices, Chapel Hill Chorus in Glasgow, Arran Islands, Inverness and Edinburgh in June. Hope to contact clan Campbell to join us for a performance! Any connections/advice would be appreciated! Kathleen (Kacky)

  20. Hullo, that was fascinating to read, and to see your photos. We were in Scotland in 2012 but didn’t realise the strong connections we had with the Campbells of Argyll at that time. We have since become aware that my husband and his brothers are great grandsons of Lord Walter Campbell, their mother (dec) was first cousin to Ian, 11th duke of Argyll. Lord Walter’s brother, John, the 9th Duke married Princess Louisa, Queen Victoria’s daughter. The brothers are second cousins to Ian, the 12th Duke, the current duke’s father, and second cousins once removed, of the current Duke Torquhil. Joseph, Lord Campbell’s son, born in 1876, was apparently sent to a good school and later migrated to Australia with his Scottish wife ( I’m presuming in the early 1900s ) They had ten children and now there are approximately 120 descendants. As a boy in Scotland Joseph’s mother later married and Joseph assumed his stepfather’s name so these descendants don’t go by the name of Campbell. His mother was approximately 18 when he was born. Because Joseph was illegitimate it was never talked about in their very proper family and I have just become aware of many of these connections through my recent research. Joseph’s father Lord Walter was already married to Olivia Rowland Milne at the time of Joseph’s birth, he was aged 28, and had one daughter. Walter was his first born son, ( that we are aware of) but another son, Douglas, was born in wedlock the following year in 1877. Douglas’s son, Ian, became 11th duke. Joseph died in Melbourne aged 98. His father, Lord Walter, died , I think in Africa, aged 41 in 1889. We would love to know more about great grandfather Lord Walter, he seemed overshadowed by his brother John, the 9th Duke.
    Though it is family knowledge, it would be interesting to have Dna testing done, I’m wondering about, they offer a Dna testing. Does anyone know the best way to have dna testing done in Australia?

    • If you’re looking to prove the Campbell lineage, and the boys descend through all males, you’ll want Y DNA testing through Family Tree DNA. The link is on the sidebar of the blog.

  21. We were on a Cruise 3 years ago and stopped at Inverary – Loved it. Coincidentally The Y-DNA match table that you have from the Campbell project Y-DNA group 30 includes my Wife’s family. Still working on how the family is related to the Duke. But it seems certain there is a connection.

Leave a Reply to robertajestesCancel reply