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Alasdair Crotach MacLeod
Home » About MacLeods » The Chiefs of the Clan » Alasdair Crotach MacLeod  
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The Eighth Chief of MacLeod of MacLeod
Born about 1450, died about 1547.  Became Chief about 1480.  

Alasdair "Crotach" MacLeod was born about 1450. He became the Eighth Chief of MacLeod of MacLeod after the death of his father, William the Black. William died in a terrible battle at sea, fought off the coast of Mull and known as the “Battle of Bloody Bay.” At that time, Alasdair was about 30 years old.

In this same battle, Alasdair was also hurt. His shoulder and back were cut very badly by a battle axe. His shoulder never healed properly, and he was never able to stand up straight and tall afterwards. For this reason, he became known as the “Crotach,” which means “crooked” or “humpbacked” in Gaelic. (Gaelic was only one of the languages that Alasdair spoke.)

Being the Chief of a Clan when Alasdair was alive was very difficult. There wasn’t much food or medicine and there were very few schools or roads. Most of the homes that people lived in were small and dark. Families tried very hard to take care of each other, but people also fought with each other to get the things that they needed or wanted.

Chief Alasdair, who was also known in the English speaking world as “Lord Alexander,” was a fierce warrior and protector of his Clan. He is sometimes remembered for some particularly violent attacks on other clans, both on his home island of Skye as well as on other islands. But he is also credited with many positive accomplishments. He had work done on Dunvegan Castle, where he built the famous Fairy Tower. He was a man of culture, and employed a number of musicians, singers, and story tellers. Chief Alasdair also founded a college for pipers on Skye.

Alasdair Crotach MacLeod was one of the longest serving MacLeod chiefs, but he was also one of the oldest. When his son William came of age, Alasdair knew it was time to make William the Ninth Chief of MacLeod of MacLeod. Alasdair retired to the monastery of Rodel, on the Isle of Harris. There he endowed the monastery with lands and restored the beautiful old St. Clement’s Church. He also built two more churches not far from Rodel, but little remains of them now.

“The Crotach” lived until the age of 97, and died in 1547. He was buried in St. Clement’s Church at Rodel. On the walls of his tomb are some of the finest historic stone carvings to be found in all of Scotland. His wife Tri, Cameron’s daughter, also lived to be an old age, and when she died she was buried alongside him, in the shelter of her husband.

"2015: The Year of the Crotach"

In an effort to learn more about the Clan and the Chiefs of our past, the Clan MacLeod Society of the United States is celebrating the life of Alasdair Crotach MacLeod in 2015. During this time, clansfolk are encouraged to use the following resources to educate themslves and others about the legacy left us by "the Crotach."

You can order a 4’ x 8’ (yes, those dimensions are in FEET) printed PVC banner that can be used indoors or outdoors, complete with grommets for hanging, from a company called “Banners on the Cheap.”  The scene on the banner is taken from the tomb of Alasdair Crotach in St. Clement’s Church, on the Isle of Harris. (Click on the image at left to enlarge.)

You can find the banner company on-line at http://www.bannersonthecheap.com.  They manufacture in the USA and give good service.  Call one of their “customer love representatives” at +1 (877) 710-1876, and tell them you want to purchase a duplicate of order #72524069, sign ID= 814883880.  It will cost you about USD$41, plus shipping. SPECIAL NOTE: FREE SHIPPING PROMOTION UNDERWAY THROUGH JULY20th - ask for details when you order!  (Unfortunately the company will ship only to the USA, but if you want to arrange delivery outside of the USA, please contact secretary@associatedclanmacleodsocieties.org and we may be able to arrange international delivery through a third party.) 



This is an “enhanced retelling” of a family-friendly tale about Alasdair Crotach.  It is written for elementary school aged children, and hopefully it will appeal to both girls and boys. It can be downloaded for free.  Print it in black and white using both sides of four sheets of 8.5”x11” paper (“flip on short edge”), then fold it in half into a little story book.  If you have a long-armed stapler, it can be stapled along the spine.  When this was prepared for our tents, the thought was that you might give copies away to impressionable young MacLeods! 

There are many other stories about our Eighth Chief, and you may find them in lots of places. Some of our Clan MacLeod resources for stories about the dinner served on "MacLeod's Tables" (yes, that was the Crotach!), the legend of the the Silver Chanter, the Unfurling of the Fairy Flag at the first Battle of Waternish, the cruel story about smothering people in the cave on Eigg, and others can be found in:  

  •  "Stories told by Chief Flora" for sale on our Books page, and
  •  The three volume set of "The Suardal Tapes" for sale on our Multimedia page.