Artists paintings of clan castles
scottish art

MacDonald Clan

Per Mare Per Terras

Clan Donald information
macdonald clan crest
macdonald clan castle
clan macdonald tartan
clan map
Clan crest badge
Clan Castle
Macdonald tartan
Clan Location
Art from Scotland picture of duntulm castle
scottish art engraving of Aros castle
castle tioram
knock castle
Duntulm Castle
Aros Castle
Castle Tioram
Knock Castle
picture of aros castle
a painting of a highland piper
clan paintings
picture of Dunyvaig Castle
Aros Castle now
William MacDonald
Clan dress 1870
Dunyvaig Castle
  • Clan Name: MacDonald
  • Clan Motto:Per mare per terras
  • Clan Chief: Godfrey James Macdonald of Macdonald
  • Clan Seat: Armadale Castle
  • Castle Location: Isle of Skye
  • Clan Lands: The Western Isles
  • Plant Badge: Health
  • Clan Name: MacDonald - MacDhomhnuill
  • Clan Motto: Per mare per terras - translated - By sea and by land
  • Clan Chief: Right Honourable Godfrey James Macdonald of Macdonald, 8th Lord Macdonald, Chief of the Name and Arms of Macdonald, High Chief of Clan Donald and 34th hereditary Chief of Clan Donald
  • Clan Seat: Armadale Castle on the Isle of Skye
  • Clan Lands: .
  • Clan Tartan :
  • Clan links : Clan Donald UK
  • Clan links : After 12 years there seems to be some progress in
              the renovations to Castle Tioram

Clan History

Armadale Castle on the Isle of Skye was built in the late 18th century as a mansion house and added on in the early 19th century. Today it is partly in ruin but houses the MacDonald Clan centre which is open to the public.
  • Finlaggan Castle is located on an island, on Loch Finlaggan, on the Isle of Islay. It was built in the 13th century and destroyed in the 14th century possibly due to their support of Robert the Bruce which at that time made them unpopular.It was the seat of the chief of Clan Donald, Lord of the Isles.
  • Knock Castle on the Isle of Skye was originally built in the 15th century by the Clan MacLeod its was taken over by the MacDonalds and lost and re-taken many times until a major re-construction in the late 16th century which kept it in MacDonald hands for nearly a hundred years until its total ruin.
  • Duntulm Castle is also on Skye originally a fort recorded around the 9th century. The Macdonald's enter the picture around the early 16th century and again the castle changed hands many times with the MacLeods, eventually in the early 18th century it was abandoned.
  • Aros Castle is another ruin located on the Isle of Mull. Taken over from the MacDougalls in the early 14th century and held until the late 15th century.
  • Claig Castle owned by the MacDonalds until the 17th century on the Isle of Jura.
  • Kildonan Castle owned during the 13 - 15th century is also a ruin located on the Isle of Arran.
  • Ardtornish Castle a MacDonald castle during the early 14th to the late 15th century located on Morvern.
  • Dunaverty Castle was a MacDonald castle for 200 years ending around 1500 located on the south coast of Kintyre.
  • Castle Tioram an impressive ruin on Loch Moidart owned until the early 18th century, it was latterly garrisoned by government troops and burnt in 1714.
  • Borve Castle was another castle of the MacDonald's of Clan Ranald.
  • Ormiclate Castle was another castle of the MacDonald's of Clan Ranald.
  • Dunyvaig Castle on the south side of Islay, once the naval base for The Lord of the Isles, was the seat of the Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg.
  • Dunscaith Castle on the Isle of Skye was the seat of the Clan MacDonald of Sleat.
  • Mingarry Castle in Kilchoan, Lochaber was the seat of the Clan MacDonald of Ardnamurchan

Scottish Clan – Macdonald

Before mentioning MacDonald background a mention should be made of the
Lord of the Isles
Going back to 4 a.d. when the Gaels from Ireland invaded parts of the west coast right through to the 13th century and the Battle of Largs the north west coast was under continued infiltration from the vikings and it was not until the Battle of Largs in 1263 where the the forces of King Magnus III of Man and the Isles as well as his ally, King Haakon IV of Norway were finally defeated that a semblance of peace came to the
area. King Haakon had conferred the title Lord of the Isles on Angus Mor as part of
the deal when they jointly attacked at Largs.

After the defeat Angus Mor accepted King Alexander 3rd of Scotland as his overlord and managed to keep his lands. He is looked on as the first of the clan Macdonald. This was to signal another 300 years of political jousting for power which saw castles rise and fall until finally in the late 15th century the title was forfeited by King James the 4th.

The title is now inherited by the eldest child of Scotland's reigning monarch,
at present Charles Prince of Wales.

During this period the influence of the Clan MacDonald rose and fell. The clan’s official seat is actually Armadale Castle but there have been many others associated with this clan and especially within the same area - the Isle of Skye.

Armadale Castle, was just one of many in the list that the Macdonald Clan possessed, the difference being that they have kept this one to this day and it is still owned officially by the Macdonald clan. It was originally built in 1790 and the Macdonald clan added to the main frame of the castle in 1815. It was destroyed by a terrible fire in 1855 and after this event it was eventually abandoned. However, it was later purchased by the Clan Donald Lands Trust in 1971 who have since restored the gardens and part of the castle. There is also a museum and study centre complete with restaurant and holiday accomadation.

Knock Castle, on the east coast of Sleat on the Isle of Skye was originally constructed by another Scottish clan, the Macleod clan. However, during the late fifteenth century, it was captured by the Macdonald clan.
During the next few years, it regularly passed between the two clans – the Macleod’s and the Macdonald’s - until finally in 1596, the Macdonald’s remodelled the castle somewhat and made it more modern and secure for its time.
Nevertheless, as with other castles that were known to have belonged to the world famous Macdonald clan, Knock Castle was finally abandoned in the year 1689 and to make the best use of the castle, the stones that were originally used to construct it were dismantled and used in buildings within the surrounding areas.

Duntulm Castle was built and extended during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but was abandoned by the Macdonald clan, just as Knock Castle and to this day, is in
a terrible state of disrepair despite still being visited by many people.

The Macdonald clan are renowned for owning many castles within Scotland and in 1539, a battle began between the Macdonald clan, Macrae clan and the Mackenzie clan for a castle that was situated on the island of Eilean Donan, where the Chief of the
Macdonald clan unfortunately died and the clan withdrew.
The Chief of the Macdonald clan at Sleat was at Dunscaith castle and like many others that the Macdonald clan owned, it is now in terrible disrepair and is classed as a ruin.

As is the case with many Scottish clans, the Macdonald’s had their fair share of castles; some won in battles and others just taken over, but most are classed as ruins.
They are still part of Scottish heritage however and will always prove most interesting for those researching their clan histories as well as history lovers in general.

The above two paintings on the right, were commissioned by Queen Victoria. They were of staff from the Royal Household at Balmoral, and some individuals from the main clans in 1870.
William Macdonald :Piper to The Prince of Wales and wearing the tartan of the Duke of Rothesay, which is one of the Prince's titles.

Farquhar MacDonald and Lachlan MacDonald. Farquhar on the left side wearing the tartan of MacDonald of the Isles and Sleat. Lachlan MacDonald is wearing the traditional MacDonald tartan.


Clan MacDonald and Clan Ranald banners

I wasn't really going to go into the MacDonald's of Glencoe and the massacre
but came on a touching wee song I thought was worth a read:

They came in a blizzard, we offered them heat.
A roof for their heads, dry shoes for their feet.
We wined 'em and dined 'em, they ate all our meat.
And they slept in the house of MacDonald.

Oh cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe
and covers the grave o' Donald
and cruel is the foe that raped Glencoe
and murdered the house of MacDonald.

They came from Fort William with murder in mind,
The Campbell had orders, King William had signed,
"Put all to the sword" these words underlined,
"Leave no one alive called MacDonald".


They came in the night, while our men were asleep.
This band of Argylls, through snow soft and deep.
Like murdering foxes among helpless sheep.
They slaughtered the house of MacDonald.


Some died in their beds, at the hands of the foe.
Some fled in the night and were lost in the snow.
Some left to accusin', who struck the first blow.
But gone was the house of MacDonald.

Two links for further reading or thoughts are the original document and other clan references.

history of the MacDonald clan
kilt, tartans, shields and arms of the MacDonalds
dress, arms and tartans of the MacDonalds
Scottish contemporary Art
Scottish contemporary Art

scottish art paintings of clan chiefs in historyClan MacDonald of the Isles

scottish paintings of clan members painted in 1845Clan MacDonald of Glencoe

scottish paintings of clan memberClan MacDonald of Garagach and Keppach

clan ranald painting




Painting of Clansmen showing tartans from 1870

Archibald MacDonald
Chief hunter to Prince Albert
with MacDonald of the Isles and Sleat tartan.



painting of Clan macdonald chief 1770

Sir Alexander Macdonald 1744-1795. 9th Baronet of Sleat and 1st Baron Macdonald of Slate
(in front of Duntulm castle)

painting of Flora MacDonald in 1747

Painting of Flora MacDonald a Jacobite heroine .
In 1746 she had met Bonnie Prince Charlie, on the run after Culloden. She helped him escape to the Isle of Skye.
She was later arrested and sent to London. On her release the following year she got this painting commissioned and gave it to the captain of the ship which had taken her south, in thanks for his kindness.


painting of Sir James and Sir Alexander MacDonald 1766

Painting of Sir James MacDonald of Sleat and Sir Alexander MacDonald .
In 1766.


painting of glencoe, shield and badge of clan macdonald
Glencoe, badge and shield



macdonald clan shield
MacDonald of the Isles



MacDonald chief picture
Sir Alexander MacDonald
of the Isles
14th Baronet
21st Chief of Sleat