A History of Clan Ross

Work in progress.

The Clan System

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, "baile").  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.



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Tain & District Museum is home to an extensive and varied collection of objects, photographs and archives of local, regional and national significance. Because of the relatively limited exhibition space, only a small proportion of the collection is on display at any one time. Our website allows us to make more of the Collection accessible to all.

We welcome Rosses from home and abroad. Find out about Clan Ross history and latest news of Clan activities.

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