Payments of rents and from those living on clan estates and from families living elsewhere were channelled through tacksmen. These lesser gentry acted as estate managers, allocating the run-rig strips of land, lending seed-corn and tools and arranging droving of cattle to the Lowlands for sale, taking a minor share of the payments made to the clan nobility, the fine. They had the important military role of mobilising the Clan Host, both when required for warfare and more commonly as a large turn out of followers for weddings and funerals, and traditionally in August for hunts which included sports for the followers, the predecessors of the modern Highland Games.
Check the whats on pages for details of the Highland Games and Shows that take place throughout the Summer. Games within the Trossachs and Loch Lomond are listed as well as others a bit further afield but well worth a visit.
The clans often battled against the government troops
Successive Scottish (and after 1707 the British) governments had portrayed the clans as bandits needing occasional military expeditions to keep them in check and extract taxes. As Highlanders became associated with Jacobitism and rebellion, the government made repeated efforts to curb the clans, culminating with brutal repression after the battle of Culloden. This followed in 1746 with the Act of Proscription, further measures making restrictions on their ability to bear arms, traditional dress, culture, and even music. The Heritable Jurisdictions Act removed the feudal authority the Clan Chieftains had once enjoyed.
With the failure of Jacobitism, the clan chiefs and gentry increasingly became landlords, losing the traditional obligations of clanship. They were incorporated into the British aristocracy, looking to the clan lands mainly to provide them with a suitable income. From around 1725, clansmen had been emigrating to North America looking to re-establish their lifestyle, or as victims of raids on the Hebrides looking for cheap labour. Increasing demand in Britain for cattle and sheep led to higher rents, with surplus clan population leaving in the mass migration later known as the Highland Clearances, finally undermining the traditional clan system.
Clan Chief in kilt, plaid and bonnet
Ever since the Victorians and no doubt also the romantic writings of Sir Walter Scott, tartans have been an important part of a Scottish clans. Almost all Scottish clans have more than one tartan attributed to their surname. Although there are no rules on who can or cannot wear a particular tartan, and it is possible for anyone to create a tartan and name it almost any name they wish, the only person with the authority to make a clan's tartan "official" is the chief of that clan. In some cases, following such recognition from the clan chief, the clan tartan is recorded and registered by the Lord Lyon. Once approved by the Lord Lyon, after recommendation by the Advisory Committee on Tartan, the clan tartan is then recorded in the Lyon Court Books.
Clan badges are another means of showing one's allegiance to a Scottish clan. These badges, sometimes called plant badges, consist of a sprig of a particular plant. They are usually worn in a bonnet behind the Scottish crest badge; they can also be attached at the shoulder of a lady's tartan sash, or be tied to a pole and used as a standard.
Clans which are connected historically, or that occupied lands in the same general area, may share the same clan badge. According to popular lore, clan badges were used by Scottish clans as a form of identification in battle. Much like today with regiments of the British Army having cap badges to identify each member of that regiment. Clan badges are commonly referred to as the original clan symbol however, it is claimed the heraldic flags of clan chiefs would have been the earliest means of identifying Scottish clans in battle or at large gatherings.