Tain Through Time

Clan Ross

This new page of the website which is still being developed.

You can also find Clan Ross related features in the following sections of this website accessed by the links shown on the left hand side of this page, i.e.

- Image Library (see The Clan Ross Album in The Collection)

- Documents Library (see The Collection)

- Museum Shop

Tain Museum also has a section on Clan Ross on the SCRAN website http://www.scran.ac.uk

The Clan System

Highlander in Ross tartan

The clan system was partly a land tenure and partly a social system.  The Chiefs owed allegiance to the King of Scotland who was their feudal overlord.  They in turn let pieces of land ("tacks") to their main supporters ("tacksmen") who sublet to other clansmen (subtenants or "cottars").  This land was held in common by the "runrig" system whereby parcels of land in the form of broad strips were divided up amongst the subtenants.  These people along with their dwellings formed townships ("touns", or in Gaelic, "bailes").  The clansmen were large groups of people who felt bound by a feeling of kinship and who recognised and obeyed a particular chief.  The chief, as well as granting their land, dispensed justice, gave protection and would seek revenge on their behalf.  The clansmen in turn had to rally to any cause the chief chose to engage in.  Clan loyalty was not necessarily rigid.  If a chief lost land some of his supporters might switch allegiance to another chief.