The origins of Clan MacLeod can be traced to Leod, who was born around 1200. The Clan takes its name from Leod, whose sons were called MacLeod, “mac” being Gaelic for son. Leod was succeeded by the one son of his of whom we can be certain, Tormod (Norman), became progenitor of the MacLeods of Harris and Dunvegan (Siol Tormod); Torcall (Torquil), a great-grandson of Leod, became progenitor of the MacLeods of the Lewes (Siol Torquil). The Siol Torquil later branched again to also create the MacLeods of Raasay.
Dunvegan Castle has been the seat of the Clan MacLeod since the time of Leod. It is a natural rock fortress on which the castle was built and developed. It has been lived in ever since.
Leod was a Norseman but Clansfolk are mainly descendants from the Celtic inhabitants of the Hebrides (Western Isles) albeit with a strong mix of Scandinavian.
In more recent clan history, our Chiefs have fostered a sense of clanship amongst a worldwide Clan. Flora became President of the Clan MacLeod Society when her father became chief in 1929 and, upon his death in 1935, she was recognised as the 28th Chief of the Clan. She travelled widely establishing Clan MacLeod Societies in the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada and was honoured as a Dame of the British Empire (DBE) in 1953 for her work. She also instituted the first Gathering of Clan MacLeod in 1956 on the coming of age of her grandson and heir, John. She called the gathering a Parliament, a name by which they continue to be known. She died, aged 98 in 1976.
John also travelled widely, following his grandmother’s footsteps and adding visits to clansfolk in, France, Germany and South Africa. He did much to modernise the Castle and the estate. On his death in 2007 he was succeeded by his son, Hugh, who became the 30th Chief. Find out more about our Chiefs.