Scottish Heritage: All About Clan Campbell

What is your Scottish clan? Have you always known the answer, or did you recently complete a home DNA kit and discover Scottish ancestry?

However you came to know about your Caledonian roots, the Celtic Croft can help you celebrate them!

We have plenty of Scottish heritage items, as well as plenty of clan-specific apparel and heirloom-quality keepsakes.

clan campbell

What Is Your Scottish Clan?

If you’re reading this, the answer is likely Campbell. Either you’re part of a proud Campbell family legacy, or you’ve unearthed a legacy and you’re eager to learn more. 

But what exactly is a clan?

Generally, we use the word clan to connote a large family. In reality, “clan” is a term that evokes much more.

The word itself comes from the Scottish word “clann,” which means “children” or “kindred.” Perhaps you may find it more helpful to think of clans more as tribes. 

Clan Organization

Anthropologists define tribes as social, cultural, and political units that often share common descent. They share values, traditions, customs, beliefs and often claim a particular geographic location or territory. 

Contrary to the way we often use the word “clan” today, not everyone in a clan was directly related. This makes sense, if you think about it since clans were quite large. Without putting too fine a point on it, how were clans supposed to grow and thrive if everyone was related?

Kind of a Protection Racket

Tribes and clans organize themselves under a leader, or chief, and therefore the clan serves a political function. 

The clan chief could operate as a sort of combination of mafia don and feudal lord; clan membership forged alliances. Clans would offer protection to families in exchange for loyalty and service. These families, or septs, enjoyed the privileges of membership within a particular clan and fought with them when conflicts arose. 

 In Scotland, clans were the primary political building block until around the mid-18th century. The infamous Battle of Culloden in 1746 saw the defeat of Jacobite rebels by the British. Culloden served as the beginning of the end for clan culture.

clan campbell

Interest in Ancestry

In 2018, 26 million Americans took home DNA tests to determine their ancestry. This phenomenon is fairly explicable, given that the US is a nation of immigrants. For any number of reasons, many families lost valuable knowledge over time as members spread out across the country.

It’s only natural that many Americans would be curious about their roots. Furthermore, there are practical benefits. You can develop more of a sense of self and identity, and connect with other people like you.

Another tangible benefit: you might discover genetic or hereditary health risks so you can make better-informed medical and lifestyle decisions.

Ultimately, ancestry research provides a rich opportunity for improved self-awareness. 

Many Americans find it exciting to learn more about where they came from and who their ancestors were. For example, you came here because you’re a Campbell. So let’s find out a little bit more about the Campbells, shall we?

The Campbell Legacy

The Campbells are Scottish, through-and-through. They trace their earliest ancestry and tie their geographic roots to Argyll in the Scottish Highlands’ southwest. The earliest Campbells actually weren’t Campbells; their earliest ancestor in Argyll likely married an heiress to the O’Duine tribe.

The Wildman of the Woods 

This very first Campbell (or so the legend says) was born in the excitingly-named Red Hall of Dun Briton. According to the early Celtic genealogies, his first name was either Smervie or Mervyn. Admittedly, either name is decidedly less imposing than the “Red Hall of Dun Briton.”

Luckily, little Smervie/Mervyn evidently grew up and made good. Somehow, this 11th or 12th century figure of legend somehow earned the nickname “Wildman of the Woods.” We can therefore conclude that whatever he was doing was working for him.

clan campbell

What Is In A Name? Facts About the Clan Campbell


The name Campbell comes from the nickname “Cam Beul,” which means “wry (or twisted) mouth.” No one is quite sure where this nickname comes from. Some speculate that the name comes from an ancestor who habitually talked of one side of his mouth.

Another theory is that an ancestor had a medical condition that causes the neck and mouth to twist.

Interestingly, the original spelling of Campbell has only one. Land records from 1263 are the first appearance of a Campbel. The first recorded instance of a landowning Campbel in Argyll appears in 1263. 

It was during the reign of David, son of Robert the Bruce, that the double-l spelling arrived. David incorporated Norman knights and ways of doing things into his governing style. Accordingly, the dominant theory is that the spelling we know today, Campbell, is a Gallicized version of the original Campbel.

Clan Motto & Tartan

According to the Clan Campbell Society, there are 4 official Campbell clan tartans. The Ancient or “plain” tartan with its blue, green, and black threads, may be worn by all associated Campbell families.

The traditional Campbell clan crest is Ne Obliviscaris, which means “Forget Not” in Latin.

That’s a pretty good motto for a clan as storied and proud as the Campbells!

Show Your Campbell Pride with Kilts and Accessories from The Celtic Croft

If you want to live up to your clan motto, look no further than the heirloom-quality keepsakes at The Celtic Croft. Our Clan Campbell kilts, clothing, and accessories will be something you and your family treasure for generations.

What better time than a family occasion to show your Clan Campbell pride? Landmark celebrations are the ideal time and place to display Campbell jewelry, kilts, and other garments bearing your clan tartan.

From our family to yours, The Celtic Croft loves nothing more than to help families keep their heritage alive. Whether donning the Clan Campbell tartan is a cherished family tradition or it’s your first time, we’ve got you covered.

Learning about your family’s history and legacy is an exciting journey. The Celtic Croft is ready to accompany you every step of the way.


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