The Earldom of Lennox
This Island, which is in the shire of Stirling, is smaller than Inchcalleoch, to which it is
adjacent on the south side. Clairinch ( modern spelling ) is about three furlongs in
length and one in breadth, it is well wooded.
In the year 1225 Maldouen, third Earl of Lennox granted to Absalon, the son of MacBed
a charter of Clairinch giving he and his heirs ownership of the Island.
The following is a translation of this charter.
Maldouen, Earl of Lennox - to all his friends and man, present and to come, Greetings:
Know ye that I have given, granted, and by this my charter have confirmed to Absalon,
son of MacBed, that Island which is called Clairines: To be held by him and his heirs of me
and my heirs in fen and heritage, with all its pertinants and easments, freely, quietly, fully,
and entirely, without any secular or servile exaction: the reddendo to me and my heirs, by
him and his heirs, being each year, for all services, customs and exactions, one pound of
wax at the nativity of our Lord:
Witnesses, Dunegal, Hamel, Duncan, Malcolm Gillchrist, my brothers; Malcolm Beg; Adam,
son of Morin; William, son of Bede; Simon, chaplain; Gilbert, clerk; Patrick, son of Malbride;
and others; given at Clarines, in the year of grace 1225.
This charter was confirmed by King Alexander the Second by a charter dated at Linlithgow
on the 6th of September, and in the seventeenth year of his reign (1231 ), and at the same time
granted the licence of fishing in his lake of "Lochlomne".
It is generally believed that Clairinch was the first land in the district in possession of the Buchanan Chiefs and as such has become the heart of the Clan. Of interest is the fact that Anselan had three sons. Gilbert the eldest, who first assumed the name of Buchanan. Methlin the second son was the ancestor of the MacMillans and his third son Colman the ancestor of of the MacColman family.
The Island passed from Buchanan hands to the estate of the Duke of Montrose at the time
of the disolution of the estate of John Buchanan the last but one Buchanan Clan chief.
Clairinch became the slogan or war-cry of the Clan Buchanan, and in times of peril the
fighting men of the Clan Buchanan usd to gather on the Island - well armed for attack or
defence. In later years this slogan was superseded by the fiery cross.
Absalon, the grantee in the charter of Maldouen, Earl of Lennox, was the ancestor of the
Clan Buchanan. Under the designation of seneschal of the Earl of Lennox, his name appears
as witness to various charters. Absalon and his sons Gilbert and Matthew, were witnesses
to a charter granted by Maldoune, earl of Lennox, to Gillemore, son of Maldouen, of the
lands of Luss.
Loch Lomond sits on the line between what is known today as the Highland and Lowlands of Scotland. This line was created by a tectonic plate collision in the periods from mid Ordovician to mid Devonian period some 520-400 million years ago. The loch was created during the last ice age when a glacier gouged out the area which is now known as Loch Lomond. Several rocky outcrops resisted the movement of the ice and these form the Islands of Loch Lomond There remain today 60 of these islands of which 23 have been named.
The loch was originally called Loch Leven. The name was changed about 1200 to its present form of Loch Lomond after the local mountain Ben Lomond. The name Leven is however not forgotten and persists as the Leven River which forms the outlet of the loch to the Clyde River.
Vikings roamed in this region and in 1093 Magnus ( known as Magnus Barelegs) son of King Olaf of Norway claimed possession of Loch Lomond ( then Loch Leven) by dragging Viking Longboats across the Isthmus at Tarbet from Loch Long to Loch Lomond. King Malcolm ( Malcolm III known as Canmore, King of Scotland 1058 - 1093 ) had decreed that the Vikings could annex any land they could sail their boats around.
In the year 1263 King Hakkon attacked the area, plundering Scottish communities on the islands and along the shores of the loch. They then sailed down the Leven River to the Clyde River where they were caught in a heavy storm which destroyed many of the heavily laden
longboats causing sever loss of life to the Viking army. Those who reached shore were attacked by the Scottish army under the command of King Alexander II at the battle of Largs, thus ending further Viking plundering expeditions. King Alexander II ruled Scotland 1214 - 1249. The Viking raids into the area were short lived and thus we have no Viking place names in the region or near surrounds.
In 1621 the Parish of Buchanan was formed by the union of that of Inchcailloch and a detached portion of the parish of Luss containing the lands of the old family of Buchanan.
The greater part of this area is very mountainous with the highest peak being Ben Lomond rising to 3192 feet above sea level. There are two small lochs in the area - Loch Arklet to the north and Dubh Lochan a small loch near to Loch Lomond about two miles south of Rowardennan
The Parish of Buchanan lies at the mouth of the River Endrick and is bounded by the river on the south, by Loch Lomond on the west, by the parish of Arrochar on the north, by loch Katrine and the parishes of Aberfoyle and Drymen on the east. It is about eighteen and a half miles long
and varies from two and a quarter to six miles in width. The parish was originally called Inchcailloch from the Island of that name in Loch Lomond on which a church formally stood.
The ruins of Buchanan Castle one time seat of the Duke of Montrose lies about a mile west of the village of Drymen. The old mansion house of Buchanan was burnt down in 1852 and the foundation stone of the present castle was laid in August 1850.
The building was completed in August 1854. This building has no connection with the Clan Buchanan. The part of the original Buchanan House which was not destroyed by fire, is I understand, incorporated into the present golf course club house.
The road from the upper end of the village of Drymen leads westward, skirting the boundaries of the castle and crosses the Burn of Mar about two and a half miles from Drymen.
Above this area at one time sat the local church and school. Proceeding up the Burn of Mar one comes across farms well known to the Clan Buchanan - Gartfairn, High Main, Millrowan Wood, Milton of Buchanan, Creitihall, Gartincaber, and Auchmar.
In an upper field of the farm of Creitihall lies the old healing well of St. Maha. A little further on, to the right of the road, lay the manse over looking the lower part of Loch Lomond and further on, about four miles from Drymen, is Balmaha on Loch Lomond.
Beyond Balmaha the road continues up Loch Lomond a short distance from the shore going through the pass of Balmaha which is generally considered to be the separation between the highlands and the Lowlands.
Opposite Balmaha and this coast of Loch Lomond, there are several Islands belonging to the parish of Buchanan. They are Clairinch, Inchcailloch, Eilandarroch, Inchfad, Inchcruin, Bucinch, and Ceardach. Clairinch, was in yesteryear, the gathering place in time of trouble for the Clan Buchanan it is now covered with wood. It is one kilometre long and half a kilometre wide and has an area of about 14 acres.
The Island of Clairinch was granted to Anselan third of that name and 7th Laird of Buchanan by Malduin Earl of Lennox the charter was witnessed by, Dougal Gilchrist and Amelyn brethren of the Earl. This transaction was confirmed by King Alexander II. The charter is dated 1225. A rental of one pound of wax was required each year.
The name Clairinch became in time the Slughorn or Call of War proper to the Clan Buchanan.
Such a system of a call being used by a large number of families in those early times.
As soon as this call was raised - upon any alarm where the Clan or its interest were concerned
the word was sounded aloud from one to another, so that in a very short time all the effective
men belonging to the Clan Buchanan, did with utmost diligence repair well armed to the ordinary rendezvous, which when the Laird resided upon the Island, was upon the shore of the Loch opposite Clairinch. In a later period the Slughorn call was replaced by the Firecross, being a small stick in the form of a cross, blackened with fire at its extremities. This Cross being once set going, was carried through to each family with great despatch and in a short time would alarm people over a vast extent of land.
"A slender crosslet, form'd with care,
A cubit's length in measure due,
The shaft and limbs were rods of Yew,
Whose parents in Inch-Cailloch wave
Their shadows o'er Clan Alpine's grave,
And, answering Lomond's breezes deep,
Soothe many a chieftain's endless sleep.
Fast as the fatal symbol flies,
In arms the hits and hamlet rise,
From winding glen, from upland town,
They pour'd each hardy tenant down"
The archeology of Clairinch can be found in a work "Stirling, an inventory of ancient monuments, Vol 2". Contained therein is a description of the foundations of four buildings discovered on the Island in 1935. One is of an oblong drystone building 37.5 feet by 19 feet and containing what may have been an oven or small corn drying kiln. In another area was found a pin which which could be dated as having been lost between the first century B.C. and the end of the second century A.D. This perhaps indicates that some of the structural remains on Clairinch were occupied in the Earl Iron Age.
Close to Clairinch is a small group of stones and boulders called Keppinch. This area is classified as a crannog. A survey of the Island and associated crannog was carried out in 1935 and on the walkway between. Keppinch or "The Kitchen" as it is known may have been used as a council Island for the Clan Buchanan who had at one time their Clan Seat on Clairinch. The use of an artificial island as a meeting place during the medieval period is a well known occurrence.
On the day of the survey the top of the crannog was above water and there were a number of small trees growing on it. Keppinch is often submerged when the water level of the loch is high. The bottom of this site is clear and the break of the slope between the top and the sides is obvious. On top is an alignment of stones which appears to delineate a rough oval platform in the middle of the site, the outline of what seemed to be a small building.
On the south west side of the site there is a protuberance which may have been for landing a boat. The water between Keppinch and Clairinch is shallow but there is no evidence of a causeway or
As indicated above Clairinch was held by the Clan Buchanan under Royal Charter, and each new Laird renewed this charter as can be seen in 1564 when Sir George, second of the name and XII Laird of Buchanan was granted a charter in his favour by King Henry and Queen Mary of lands of Buchanan, "Ifles of Clareinch and Kepinch. with bell and alms of St. Keffig." ( this was the period when Mary Queen of Scots and her husband Henry Stewart - Lord Darnley were enthroned )
Again we see in the 17th cent - "Sir John, XV Laird of Buchanan as appears by Charter in his favour of King James VI, in the lands of Buchanan." ( King James VI/ I - 1566 - 1625 ) was the son of Mary Queen of Scots and is famed for uniting the two crowns of Scotland and England.)
Sir John Buchanan XV Laird of Buchanan, was responsible for the loss of Buchanan lands by his extravagant life style and frequent foreign travels. He died in in 1681 and his estate was purchased by James, third Marquis of Montrose. This purchase included the Island of Clairinch and Keppinch. The Island and crannog remained in the hands of the Graham family (Montrose )
until the 20th century.
In 1934 a wealthy Buchanan Clansmen, William George Buchanan purchased Clairinch and Keppinch from the Montrose estate. By this purchase the heart of the Buchanan Clan passed back into Buchanan ownership and William was named "Laird of Clairinch". William, who had lived most of his life in Chile, retired to London where he lived at 24 Park Lane. During this period he had
drawn up an extensive family tree showing his descent from Buchanan of that Ilk via Thomas Buchanan of Drummakill third son of Sir Walter Buchanan of that Ilk.
William died in 1939 and gifted Clairinch and Keppinch to "The Buchanan Society" a Clan charitable organisation based in Glasgow and recognised as the oldest Clan charity in Scotland.
where it remains to this day.
William's last will and testament states clearly that he wishes the Island to be used as an animal and bird sanctuary with no shooting allowed. The document is dated May 20 1940.
In accordance with William's wishes upon his death his ashes were spread on the Island of Clairinch. The island was subsequently leased on 2nd. May 1954 to Nature Conservatory Council wherein is was agreed to manage the Island as a Nature Reserve. The period of the lease is stated as 25 years.
William George Buchanan never married but descendants of his Chilian family still live in Chile. The last male Buchanan remaining in his family, John Buchanan son of William's brother, died a few years ago.
William's father, George Buchanan, had a twin brother William who travelled to New Zealand and married Emma Bock.
William and Emma's family still live in New Zealand. The late George Alexander Buchanan of Dunedin was first cousin to William and George's grandchildren, Claude Buchanan, Earl Brown and Lorraine Wilson-Perrot have over the years contributed a good deal of research into the history of the local family and the greater Clan.
Claude Buchanan FSA scot
Recent aerial photograph of Clairinch - the fish shape of the Island can be clearly seen