Archive for the ‘Campbell’ Category

This week’s picture in the sidebar is of Castle Finlairig, an unexpected find during my trip to Scotland.

When I knew I was going to make the trip, I carefully planned my itinerary to include the places Shawn, Niall, and Amy would see and experience.  One of Shawn’s first experiences, on arriving in 1314, is a many-days’ hike through Scotland’s rugged Highlands.  He, of course, is not used to such physical exertion. 

I had hoped to make a four-day hike, myself, but two weeks, with stops in Inverness, Stirling, Bannockburn, and driving out to the Rannoch Moor, and across the central Highlands where Shawn and Allene hike, didn’t leave four days to spare.  But I did make some very long (for me) walks and find a ‘hill’ to climb, at the very least.  That happened to be Sron a’ Chlachain, The Nose of the Village, rising above the village of Killin near Loch Tay.

On the appointed day of experiencing what Shawn would, in making a long-distance hike for which he was not prepared, we set out to make about a five mile walk around Killin and climb Sron a’ Chlachain all in the same day.  Our host at the hostel was a rather interesting man with fascinating stories to tell.  It is from him that I learned about the concept of ley lines, which make an appearance in Book Two of the Blue Bells Trilogy as people try to make sense of the mysterious events at Glenmirril.

This host also told us about Castle Finlairig, and suggested we watch for it.  It wasn’t on the itinerary, but as much as there are good reasons for having A Plan in the first place, there are also good reasons for being flexible and sometimes taking a detour from The Plan.  I’m so glad we did!

Our host told us to look for a small path.  He warned us several times this path was small, and hard to spot, so to really watch carefully.  I’m nothing if not literal!  After a long walk through pastures full of sheep, and around one edge of Loch Tay, up a small hill to a gnarled tree with multiple spreading branches low to the ground, surrounded by Scotland’s famous fields of bluebells, we came to the path where we must watch for Finlairig’s miniscule, microscopic, guaranteed-to-miss-it-if-you-don’t-watch-with-a-magnifying-glass path.

I found it!

It was a dirt track, about six inches wide, pushing through spring foliage.  We followed it through, edging through ferns and ducking under limbs in the path, and burst out into a small clearing, isolated and silent, with a massive square mausoleum still standing, and one tower of a castle still reaching for the patch of blue sky above the clearing, along with several of its walls in disrepair.  Trees and rich, green grass grew all around.  On the far side of the clearing stood two white, lichen-covered Celtic crosses, more than four feet high.

This was Finlairig!

We passed through the arched door of the tower (you can see in the picture), which was open to the world on the other side, to find narrow halls and a rough way to reach what was once the second floor.  On the other side, we saw what must have been a great hall, still with a wall and a half but now filled with grass and a tree.

We studied the charter stone over the arched doorway, and the Celtic crosses, and found out it had been the home of the Campbells.  I couldn’t have planned it better!

I found the place enchanting–and I don’t use that word often or lightly.  But it was easy, in the solitude and silence and sense of age, to imagine anything might happen there.  Thanks to an unexpected departure from The Plan, Finlairig, though it isn’t named, got written into Blue Bells of Scotland. 

*The giveaway drawing for an electronic copy of Blue Bells of Scotland happens January 31.  Sign up as a follower at my blogspot site to enter.

Today kicks off Blue Bells of Scotland’s two-month virtual book tour, with guest posts, interviews, spotlights, and reviews around the web.  The complete schedule and trailer can be found at Pump Up Your Book!  Today, the novel is featured at The Virginia Beach Publishing Examiner.

Keep an eye open, later in September, for guest posts by authors Jeri Westerson and Joan Szechtman.

Today, I feature facts on Clan Campbell.

Clan Crest Badge

The crest badge is taken from the top of the coat of arms, and is what men may wear on their bonnets.  Clan Campbell’s badge features a boar’s head and the chief’s motto, Ne Obliviscaris, Latin for Do Not Forget, a charge to remember the great deeds of those who went before.  The boar’s head comes from an old Campbell story that Diarmid–a Campbell ancestor and Fingallian hero–killed an animal that had been ravaging the district of Glenschee in Perthshire.  Other versions place the incident in Beinn-an-Tuire or in the mountain of Kyntyr.  In more general terms, a boar’s head represents courage and fierceness in battle.

Clan Tartan

Clan Campbell has as its tartan what is often known as the Black Watch.  To be more precise, there are four variations on the Campbell Tartan: “ancient” or plain Campbell; Campbell of Breadalbane; Campbell of Cawdor; and Campbell of Loudoun.  The ancient Campbell tartan is the Black Watch, due to the fact that the Black Watch was a Campbell regiment, raised in 1739 by the Duke of Argyll.


Coat of Arms

This is only one of over 200 Campbell coats of arms.  It is one of the more involved ones I’ve found in my research, but all bear clear similarities.  It has the motto and boar’s head at the top.  The shield features the black and gold gyronny–typically, but not always, meaning a field divided into eight triangular sections, alternating between two colors.

A side note on the colors of heraldry:

  • Or means gold and stands for generosity.
  • Argent means silver or white and stands for sincerity or peace.
  • Gules is red, and stands for a martyr, warrior, or military strength.
  • Azure, blue, stands for strength and loyalty.
  • Vert is green–hope, or loyalty in love.
  • Sable, black, stands for grief or constancy.


The Name

The name Campbell comes from the Gaelic cam beul–crooked mouth.  The byname is first recorded in the late 1200′s.  As is so common when searching back many centuries, there are multiple theories.  (Even that the name is Gaelic is only one–other sources suggest the name is derived from the French de Campo Bello.)  However, sticking with the Gaelic theory, two ideas are put forth: either that ‘crooked mouth’ refers to one who is dishonest, or to the language of Brythonic wanderers–probably middle Welsh–and there is some evidence that the early Campbells were of Brythonic stock.