Meeting Mackenzie Clan Chief at Castle Leod

I trembled with excitement the day we visited Castle Leod, the Clan Mackenzie seat, located near the village of Strathpeffer in the east Ross Shire of the Highlands. In the Mackenzie’s’ hands for centuries, Leod remains one of the few castles where the original owners family descendants still live. “For 500 years Leod was backdrop of the Mackenzie family whose dramatic and colorful lives were inextricably linked with the great events of Scottish history and the characters that shaped it, …

Happy Father’s Day to Dad Our McKinzie Clan Chief

In all of your trips to Europe to follow my exploits, I am sorry that I never took you to the Scottish Highlands to see the home of your Clan Mackenzie ancestors, so I traveled there for you. Now your traveling days are over, so I will paint a word picture of Scotland just as you used to paint magnificent landscapes of the places you visited in Norway, France, Germany and Switzerland that fill our walls with memories. But how …

I Declare Mackenzie Day to Celebrate My Heritage

On the east coast of Scotland, outside of Inverness, we traveled to the heart of my clan’s land and I declared it Mackenzie Day. We started out wandering among my dead ancestors in Beauly Priory, founded in 1230 as a Valliscaulian monastic community. Every other tombstone was engraved with the name Mackenzie, but the most poignant one lie in the north transept of the church. “Sir Kenneth Sixth Barone of Kintail” was engraved in the border of a stone bed …

Eilan Donan Castle

Scotland – On the Trail of Clan Mackenzie

Ever since I found out that my paternal lineage goes back to the 12th century Clan Mackenzie, I dreamed of following their trail from Eilean Donan Castle on the west coast across the Scottish Highlands and the Kintail mountains to Castle Leod on the eastern shores. The tale of the rise and fall of Clan Mackenzie, filled with the supernatural, cunning power, and vicious clan battles, makes a great story. Diane Gabaldon’s historical time travel book series, inspiring the popular …

Visiting Cambridge Makes Me Feel Smarter

I went to Cambridge, the prestigious medieval university, only as a tourist, but boy did I get educated. Though my former students have attended these hallowed grounds, I felt like a dunce when I realized Cambridge was not one central institution, but actually 31 different colleges under the administrative umbrella of the University. The colleges, established between the 11th and 15th centuries, have unique, individual histories. In 1209, after a dispute with the townspeople, scholars from Oxford University left and …