Menu Close

The Clans of Scotland: Wild Scots?

Men in kilts photographed from the back

The Clans & Diana Gabaldon

Want to write a novel set in Scotland? A New York Times bestseller?? How about a series? Scottish stories are wildly popular after the successful novels of Diana Gabaldon: Outlander, Fly in Amber, Voyager, followed by six more huge books which tell the adventures and trials of Jamie Fraser and Claire.  

Gabaldon placed her story in the mid-18th century at the end of the ‘clan system’ in the Scottish Highlands. Her characters bravely fought the last of the Jacobite rebellions. In this course you will learn about the background, the 16th to 18thcenturies, which led to the tragic defeat at the battle of Culloden.

Battle of Culloden showing redcoat about to bayonet a Highlander
Highlanders charge British soldiers at the Battle of Culloden

What made Highlanders so attractive to readers all over the world? Welsh people wonder. After all they too speak a Celtic language. Just because Highlandmen wear kilts? Yes! However, the kilt is not an ancient garment. Want to know more?

Highlanders in the 18th Century  

If you were to visit Edinburgh in the 18th-century, you’d find out that Lowlanders thought Highlanders savage, a ready source of rebels, far less civilised than the ‘red Indians’ of the New World. Tartan or any chequed fabric was associated with Highlanders and the Lowland poor. Ministers of religion complained that women could hide under a tartan shawl and go to sleep during sermons. You’ll learn how the Highland image was ‘rehabilitated’ in the 19th century.

Highland Woman 18th Century

Sheila Currie will provide information about the names of the clans, their locations, and their feuds and fights. You’ll also gain insights about daily life: making a living, keeping families strong and how to marry. Marriage was different in the Highlands. Very different.

Enriching your Story of the Clans

How do you know you’re in Scotland when you read a Scottish novel? How much background should you include? Will you sprinkle a little magic in your story? Writing a great Scottish story means more than a list of dates. Blah. What are the sources for learning all this? Yes, you need history, but also folklore, a few words of Scottish Gaelic, customs, and insights into the society of the Scottish Highlands—the clans. 

What you will learn:

  • The historical background from the 16th to the 18th century: the life-threatening events, the feuds and fights
  • How to name your characters and their lands
  • How to dress your characters—it changes through the centuries
  • How to place your characters in a village or a castle among ancient stone monuments
  • What to put on the first pages of your novel which show your readers that they are no longer in the 21st century

For more information

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *