Comprehensive Timeline


circa 6500 BC Mesolithic Era, first settlement in the Hebrides

4000 BC-2000 BC Neolithic Age, creation of the Standing Stones, arrival of the first farmers to the Isles

circa 2000 BC Indo-European pre-Celtic migration to Europe, absorbed into the Bell Beaker and Corded Wares cultures

2361 BC mythical first settlement of Ireland by Cessair

2061 BC mythical arrival of the Muintir Partholon in Ireland, who fought the Fomorians

2000 BC mythical King Net rules the Hebrides. His grandson is Balor of the Evil Eye, mythical Irish King of the Fomorians

2026-1534BC  3 distant, male-line relatives by Y-DNA of the author die in different years and are buried on Rathlin Island. Rathlin is later part of the kingdom of Dalriada 2500 years later, and 3000-3500 years later is the common staging point to raid Ulster from the Hebrides


1731 BC mythical arrival of the Muintir Nemid in Ireland, who fought the Fomorians. After a great battle, the surviving 30 Nemedians are said to have split, some to go “into the North of the world” eventually becoming the Tuatha Dé Danann, others to Britain to become the Britons, and some to Greece who supposedly became the Fir Bolg, with Ireland left empty for 200 years

1500 BC mythical return of the Fir Bolg to Ireland

1477 BC mythical return of the Tuatha Dé Danann to Ireland

circa 1200 BC broch stone fort construction in Hebrides

1287 BC mythical invasion of Ireland by the Milesians, the Tuatha Dé Danann led underground to live in Sidhe mounds by Manannán mac Lir, a sea-god to whom, as recently as 1671 AD, residents of the Isle of Lewis offered a sacrifice of beer at hallow-tide to bring seaweed to shore

circa 450 BC Celtic La Tène Culture might have migrated to Britain from Northern France, or maybe just trade with similar cultural objects

circa 200 BC Celtic culture expands to Northern Ireland and possibly the Isles

55 BC Callanish Isle of LewisDiodorus Siculus wrote of the Hyperborean temple of Apollo, where the moon skips across the horizon every 19 years. This periodic phenomenon occurs only at 58 degrees latitude, which is the latitude of the Callanish standing stones on the Isle of Lewis

1st Cent BC to 1st Cent CE CuinbattleSkye ruled by the mythical Queen Scathach “Lady of the Shadowed Isle”, daughter Uathach “Spectre” and rival Aiofe. Scathach’s martial arts school taught the Irish hero Cuchulain from Uladh the use of the spear Gáe Bulg in the Tochmarc Emire

10 AD Tribe known to the Romans as Carnonacae rule Skye and adjacent mainland areas until the 500s when about the time of the Dalriada invasion are consolidated with the Cat of Caithness

83 AD the Picts ruled by Calgacus, chief of the Caladonian Confederacy who opposed the Romans under Julius Agricola at the Battle of Mon Graupius

1st to 5th century CE the Hebrides is known as Iardomnan, marked by Dun stone fort construction

410 Returning mercenaries create a library on the Isle of Iona with books from the sack of Rome by Alaric the Goth

498 AD First Invasion of the Dál Rialta, Gaels from Ireland called Scots invade Argyll and the Inner Hebrides to establish kingdom of Dál Riata which lasts through the 8th century but is eventually absorbed into the Kingdom of Alba

circa 500 Battle of Badon, semi-mythical King Arthur defeats the Saxon invaders of England

563 St Columba founds the monastery on Iona

Start of the Viking Age

793 First Viking raid on Britain at Lindisfarne, Start of the Viking age

794 First Norse raids on Hebrides- Skye attacked and sacked

795 Norse Vikings sack Iona

840 Danes defeat the Pictish army of the Kingdom of Fortriu

843 Creation of the Kingdom of Scotland from Pictland by Kenneth MacAlpin

850 Haraldr hárfagri, better known as Harald “Fairhair” was born

circa 850 Viking traders settle and integrate with the local Gaelic population in the Hebrides to form the Gall-Gaidheal

853 Ketil Flatnose rules Hebrides as local warlord

865 Semi-mythical Ragnar Loðbrók is said to have been killed by King Ælla of Northumbria, causing his sons to invade England with the Great Heathen Army. One of his sons, Ivar “the Boneless” may have become King of Dublin

872 Harald “Fairhair” became the first King of Norway

873 Ivar, King of Dublin and founder of the Uí Ímair, a matrilineal Viking dynasty that ruled Ireland, died

874 Vikings first settle in Iceland

875 Rebel Viking Jarls flee King Harald Fairhair’s unification of Norway and settle in the Hebrides and Orkney

876 Ketil Flatnose sent to subdue the rebels in the Hebrides

902 Irish expel the Norse from Dublin

917 Sitriuc, Grandson of Ivar recaptures Dublin

927 Amlaib Cuaran, “Olaf of the Dublin-style shoes”, son of Sitric and the last king of the Uí Ímair is born

932 Harald Fairhair dies, succeeded as King of Norway by his sons Eric “Bloodaxe” and Haakon I “the Good”. Eric Bloodaxe gains and loses the Kingdoms of Northumbria, Dublin, and the Suðreyjar to Amlaib Cuaran

952 Amlaib Cuaran becomes King of Dublin

973 The Gall-Gael King of the Isles makes a defensive pact with the Kings of Scotland and Strathclyde

981 Amlaib Cuaran dies

1014 Battle of Clontarf ends Norse dominion over Ireland, Sigurd the Jarl of Orkney was killed (Ruler of the Hebrides)


‘Battle of Clontarf’, oil on canvas painting by Hugh Frazer, 1826



1030 Haraldr Sigurðarson, son of a petty king of Ringerike Norway and according to the sagas a descendant of Harald Fairhair, enters mercenary service and moves to Constantinople in 1034 to command the Byzantine Empire’s Varangian Guard

1034 Kingdom of Scotland absorbs the Kingdom of Strathclyde

1047 Haraldr Sigurðarson becomes King of Norway, gains the by-name Harðráði, “The Hard Ruler” most often written as Harold Hardrada


Battle of Stamford Bridge by Peter Nicolai Arbo, 1870, depicting King Harald Hardrada hit in the neck by an arrow



1066 Battle of Stamford Bridge, Norwegian King Harald Hardrada is defeated by the English King Harald Godwinson. His magic war-banner “Land-Ravager” is lost, and a survivor of the battle is Guðrøðr who may have been the grandson of Amlaib Cuaran. His name is most often written as Godred Crovan, the by name crobh bhan meaning “of the white hand”, and is thought to be a son of Harald the Black of Ysland but to this day it is undetermined if Ireland, Iceland, or Islay is the place meant by Ysland. Godred Crovan eventually is welcomed at the court of kinsman Guðrøðr Sigtryggsson, King of the Isle of Man.

1066 Normans invade England, regarded as the end of the main Viking Age

A Culture in Transition


Norse Territories and Neighbors in the 11th Century



1070 Guðrøðr Sigtryggsson, Gofraid mac Sitric in Irish sources, dies and his son Fingal becomes King.

1079 Godred Crovan becomes King of Man and the Isles. Descendants of his that rule the kingdom are called the Crovan dynasty.

1094 Godred Crovan dies of the Plague on Islay, sons Lagmann and Olaf rule the isles

1095 Magnus “Barelegs”, King of Norway invades and claims the territory


12th Century Chessman found on the Isle of Lewis

1098 Magnus Barelegs and King Edgar of Scotland sign treaty establishing the boundary between the Isles and Scotland. Godred Crovan’s sons Lagmann and Olaf rule the isles as Norwegian vassals

1156 Somerled, son-in-law to Olaf, the recently deceased King of the Isles, seizes control of the inner islands, Argyll, and Kintyre becoming King of the Hebrides. The Western Isles and Man remain in the Crovan Kingdom of Man and the Isles under his brother-in-law Godred

circa 1200 Kingdom of the Isles 1200

Leod born, fostered by Pal son of Balki, the vicecomes of Skye and ally of Olaf the Black, King of the Isles and Man. Leod was widely thought to be son of Olaf the Black, but Leod may actually have been a great-grandson of Helga Haraldsdottir, sister of Godred Crovan
1203 Iona, center of Celtic Christianity, becomes a Benedictine Monastery

The Clan Begins

1220 Leod owns the Isle of Harris, gains Dunvegan Castle and its territories through marriage to the MacRaild Heiress. He may already have had Glenelg.

1250 Leod is given the other parts of Skye by Pal Balkison. MacLeods will own all of Skye and about half of the rest of the Isles into the 1400s.

1263 King Haakon IV of Norway confirms Somerled’s grandson as Lord of Islay and the Isles as his vassal, but then loses the Battle of Largs against the Scots

1265 End of the Kingdom of Man and the Isles with the death of King Magnús Óláfsson

1266 the Hebrides become part of Scotland, Lord of the Isles Angus Mor MacDonald accepts King of Scotland Alexander III as feudal superior and the mixed Hebridean culture becomes less Norse and more Gaelic, the final end of the Viking age proper in Scotland

MacLeods in the Council of the Lordship of the Isles


Drawing of effigy once thought to be Leod, from Iona

1280 Clan founder Leòd dies, is buried on Iona

1297 Scots revolt against English rule, led by William Wallace

1314 Battle of Bannockburn, MacLeods are led by Tormod, son of Leod in the forces of Robert the Bruce

1320 Leod’s grandson Murchadh acquires the Baronies of the Isle of Lewis and Assynt from marriage to the Nicholson heiress, son Torquil is the eponymous founder of the MacLeods of Lewis, Siol Torquil

circa 1325 Malcolm Gillecaluim, 3rd Chief and grandson of Leod builds a keep at the old curtain-wall sea-fort at Dunvegan, takes the crest of a bulls head and Motto of “Hold Fast” after an encounter with a wild bull

1343 Malcolm MacLeod of Dunvegan and Torquil MacLeod of Lewis are mentioned in charters of land by King David II

1350 4th Chief of MacLeod of Harris, Iain Ciar marries a Irish daughter of the O’Neill. MacLeods serve as Gallowglass and Redshanks mercenaries in Ireland for the next 300 years

1395 Battle of Sligachan against the MacDonalds, with spoils divided by the victorious MacLeods at Creag an Fheannaidh, possibly the same as the Bloody Stone in Harta Corrie

1403 Battle of Tuiteam Tarbach, MacLeods devastated Strathnever, then fought the Mackays on the banks of the river Oykel

1405 Battle of Feorlig, MacLeods lost North Uist and Sleat including Castle Camus and Dunscaith on Skye to MacDonalds, then Torquil of Lewis assists the Harris MacLeods in defeating the MacDonalds at Feolig bay near Dunvegan

1411 Battle of Harlaw, MacLeods supported Domhnall of Islay and the Highlanders against the lowland Scots

1460 7th Chief William Dubh MacLeod joins Hugh MacDonald of Sleat in raiding Orkney

1468 Orkney and Shetland, semi-independent Norwegian Jarldoms, were pledged by Christian I, King of Norway as security for his daughter’s dowry to James III King of Scotland

1472 Hebrides nominally ceded to Scotland as the Scots King asserts more control over the Lords of the Isles

1498 Lewis Chief

Effigy of Roderick, 7th of Lewis, d 1498



1480 Battle of Bloody Bay, near Tobermory off Isle of Mull– William “Longsword” Dubh, Chief of MacLeod of Harris and Dunvegan dies supporting Lord of the Isles John of Islay against the rebellion of his son, Angus Og, who has the support of Roderick MacLeod 7th of Lewis

1493 King of Scotland claims land and title of Lordship of the Isles destabilizing the region and creating a period of intense raids and fighting among the clans

Age of Feuds and Forays

1495 Lost North Uist to MacDonald of Sleat

1498 Durinish, Trotternish, Minginish, Glendale, Bracadale on Skye confirmed to Alexander 8th Chief Siol Tormod, Duntulm Catle captured from MacDonalds, Knock Castle unsuccesfully seiged

1500s Waternish on Skye belongs to MacLeod of Lewis

1500 Pabbay, Uig, Haklete, Earshader, Baile na Cille in possession of “Old Norman” Macleod, son of Torquil MacLeod, 6th Chief of Lewis. Descendants of his traditionally use the small “l”

1500s Territory of Strathpeffer lost to the MacKenzies

1500 The College of Piping at Borreraig is run by the MacCrimmons under patronage from MacLeod of MacLeod, credited for creating the classical music of the pipes. A cairn financed by the clan society was built at the site in 1933.

1511 Territory of Coigach in possession of MacLeod of Lewis

1513 Alasdair Crotach, called Alexander “The Humpbacked”, 8th Chief MacLeod seizes Dunscaith Castle from the MacDonalds

1513 Battle of Glendale (1490 traditionally), Alasdair Crotach gets his nickname “Humpback” from a battle-axe wound to the back from Evan MacKail, son of Clanranald

1518 and before Raasay belongs to MacLeod of Lewis

1500s Waternish lost by MacLeod of Lewis to MacLeod of MacLeod

1520 St Clements Church at Rodel on Isle of Harris completed for MacLeod of Dunvegan on the site of a much older church

1528 Alasdair Crotach loses Trotternish on Skye to Donald Gruamach, MacDonald of Sleat and John, son of Torquil, MacLeod of Lewis

1528 Malcom-Garve founds MacLeods of Raasay. He also owns Roun and half of Gairloch

1539 William, son of Alasdair Crotach, and later 10th Chief Has a tomb prepared in Rodel

1542 Alasdair Crotach is granted a crown charter of Trotternish, Sleat and North Uist, but may have been denied possession by the MacDonalds

Alasdair Crotach, 8th Chief. Effigy in St Clement’s Church, Rodel, Isle of Harris
1547 Alastair Crotach, 8th Chief MacLeod dies and is buried on Harris at Rodel in an ornate tomb

1554 Royal Letters of Fire and Sword issued for the extermination of Ruairi MacLeod ‘of the Lewes’ for refusing to attend Parliament at Inverness

1560 MacLeods and Mackays sent a large group of Gallowglass to support Shane O’Neill in Ireland

1560s Mary, heiress and daughter of William the 9th Chief is given ward by the King to the Campbells. Massacre at dinner of Campbells at Dunvegan occurs

1566 MacLeod of Assynt and Mackay of Strathnever raid and burn Dornoch


Durer engraving of Gallowglass


Start of the 80 Years War in Continental Europe provides further mercenary opportunities for MacLeods. Some came fresh from serving as gallowglass in Ireland

1577 Massacre of all 395 Clanranald inhabitants of the Isle of Eigg in retaliation for some MacLeods being set adrift, bound

Trumpan Church

Trumpan Church, site of the massacre that precipitated the Battle of the Spoiling of the Dyke

1578 Battle of the Spoiling of the Dyke and the Massacre at Trumpan Church in Waternish

1586 Battle of Leckmelm, Sutherlands, Mackays, and MacLeods of Assynt under Chief of the Slight-ean-Voir, James macRory MacLeod, fought the Clan Gunn near Lochbroom

1588 MacLeods ally with Clan Chattan

1596 Torquil Dubh, Chief of MacLeod of Lewis devastates his illegitimate brother Torquil Connanach’s lands of Coigach and Lochbroom, MacKenzies retaliate

1597 Isle of Lewis forfeit to the MacKenzie Earl of Cromartie after the failure of the Fife Adventurers to ethnically cleanse the island. Stornoway Castle was also lost and later destroyed by Parliamentarian forces in the English Civil War

1601 MacLeod devastates Trotternish in the “War of the one eyed woman”

1601 Battle of Carinish, MacLeods led by Donald Glas MacLeod fought MacDonald of Sleat on North Uist in the War of the one eyed woman. Last battle in British Isles fought with Bows and arrows.

1601 Battle of Coire na Creiche (Corrie of the Spoils) in the War of the one eyed woman, last clan battle on Skye

1608 King of Scotland orders an end to clan conflict, imprisons the MacDonald Chiefs

1609 The territory of Coigach lost to the MacKenzies

1613 Niall MacLeod of Lewis, son of Ruari the last Chief of Lewis, is executed in Edinburgh

1618 Start of the 30 Years War in Continental Europe provides further mercenary opportunities for MacLeods. MacLeods of France, Germany, and Poland descend from some of those who sought fortune in foreign service

Civil Wars and Jacobite Rebellions

1622 Letters of Fire and Sword granted to Lord Kintail against Malcolm MacRuari MacLeod of Lewis for participating in Sir James MacDonald’s rebellion

1651 Battle of Worcester– MacLeods lost 700 men fighting on the Royalist side against Oliver Cromwell’s forces

1664 Mary MacLeod (Mairi Nighean), one of the greatest of all Gaelic poets and nursemaid to the MacLeods of Dunvegan, died at age 105 and was buried face down as a witch

1672 The territory of Assynt and Ardvreck Castle lost to Earl of Seaforth. The territory of Gairloch lost to Earl of Seaforth

1689 the “Glorious Revolution”, William of Orange takes throne

1716 Parliament passes the Disarming Act, prohibiting Highlanders from “possessing, using, or bearing broad sword or target, poignard, hanger, or dirk, side pistol, gun, or other warlike weapon”

1739 Soitheach Nan Daoine, “Ship of the People”, incident. Norman MacLeod of Bernera and Sir Alexander MacDonald of Sleat attempt to human traffic MacLeods and MacDonalds from Harris and Skye to the American Colonies as slaves for the cotton plantations. The ship they were kidnaped by, the SS William, docked at Donaghadee in Ireland to take refuge from a storm and the prisoners escaped. Most remained in Antrim

1745 MacLeods of Raasay fight at Culloden on the Jacobite side, their lands are devastated by the Duke of Cumberland in retaliation. The 22nd Chief, Norman “The Wicked Man” MacLeod of Dunvegan declares nominal loyalty to the Government and retains lands and Dunvegan Castle. MacLeod’s Piper Donald Ban MacCrimmon was captured at the battle of Inverurie, and Jacobite pipers went on strike until the “King of Pipers” was released

Norman_MacLeod wicked clan_chief,_1747

The Wicked Man, Norman 22nd Chief, 1747

1746 Parliament passes the Act of Proscription, intended to finally crush the clan system. Further bans on weapon possessions, and severe penalties for the hiding of prohibited weapons were augmented with cultural bans, and unlimited nighttime search authorizations. Wearing of Highland clothing such as “the plaid, philibeg, or little kilt, trowse, shoulder belts, or any part whatsoever of what peculiarly belongs to the highland garb; and that no tartan, or partly-coloured plaid or stuff shall be used for great coats, or for upper coats ” had a mandatory prison sentence of 6 months for first offense, transportation for 7 years the second. Piper James Reid was hanged for playing the bagpipes, as they were ruled by a court to be a “Instrument of War”

Land sales and Clearances period to present

1773 Samuel Johnson and Boswell visit Skye, recorded in Johnsons’s A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and Boswell’s The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides

General Norman MacLeod of MacLeod, 23rd Chief

1776 Norman the 23rd Chief raises a Battalion of Black Watch to fight in America, but is captured enroute. He earns a fortune as a General in the East India Company during the 2nd Mysore Anglo-War of Tipu Sultan in India, 1782-1784.

This conflict was notable for Tipu’s iron-cased rocket artillery being adapted by the British as Congreve Rockets, the “Rocket’s Red Glare” of the Star Spangled Banner.


Tipu Sultan

1820 Major Donald MacLeod of the 56th Regt, 6th of Talisker, sells Talisker and emigrates to Van Diemen’s Land where he is granted 2,000 acres. Hugh MacAskill took over the estate in 1825, and completed the clearance of Talisker. The famous Talisker whisky distillery was opened at Carbost by MacAskill in 1830

1828 John Norman MacLeod, 24th Chief of MacLeod elected Member of Parliament for Sudbury

1835 The Texas Revolution starts

1840s 25th Chief Norman MacLeod of MacLeod bankrupted his estate buying grain to feed his starving tenant clansmen during the potato blight

1841 321 Texians under Hugh McLeod and George Thomas Howard, at the direction of Governor Mirabeau B. Lamar, began an invasion of Santa Fe. They were captured at Tucumcari, New Mexico, and imprisoned at the San Carlos Fortress in Perote, Veracruz before ultimately being released in June 1842.


1845 Texas Statehood

1848 The island of Raasay is sold, MacLeod of Raasay emigrates to Australia


Norman Magnus, 26th Chief of MacLeod

1879 Norman Magnus MacLeod of MacLeod, formerly a Captain in the 74th Highlanders, led 8,000 Swazi tribesmen to victory over the Pedi in the African battle of Wulu. He later became the 26th Chief of Clan MacLeod.

1929 Flora MacLeod became president of the Clan Society. She had been born in 1878 at number 10 Downing Street in London, and was niece of the 26th Chief and daughter of the 27th Chief

1930 The last inhabitants request evacuation island of St Kilda. Sir Reginald MacLeod of MacLeod, 27th Chief, sells the island the next year.

Reginald_MacLeod_of_MacLeod_25th Chief

Sir Reginald MacLeod of MacLeod, 27th Chief

1935 Flora MacLeod of MacLeod becomes the 28th Chief, later created Dame of the British Empire in 1953

Flora MacLeod 28th Chief

Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod, 28th Chief

1958 HRH Queen Elizabeth Visits Dunvegan Castle for the celebration of the Heir John MacLeod of MacLeod’s 21st Birthday with delegates from all the MacLeod societies around the world present




John MacLeod of MacLeod, 29th Chief

1976 John MacLeod of MacLeod, grandson of Dame Flora succeeds as 29th Chief

1988 The Lord Lyon recognizes Torquil Roderick MacLeod, of MacLeod of Raasay descent as Chief of MacLeod of Lewis

2001 Sons Torquil Donald and Roderick John succeeds as Chiefs of MacLeod of Lewis and MacLeod of Raasay respectively

2005 Discovery of a Y-DNA Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) S68/L165 that marks the male line of Leod. It belongs to the Haplogroup R1b, and is currently considered a Norse marker based on it’s distribution. Interested in testing yourself?


Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod, 30th Chief

2007 Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod, son of John succeeds as 30th Chief

Dec 2016 Discovery of SNP BY3210 that marks male-line descent of a branch of MacLeods


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