Clan Means Family

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After five days together, our Clan Maitland group gathered one last time, for a formal dinner. Each of us arrived in the Maitland tartan, in the form of kilts, ties, sashes, scarves and skirts. For my sister and me, it was our first time to formally wear our clan’s tartan and attend such an event.

When our group gathered for the first time, some of us were strangers to each other. Others were connected on social media but had never met in person. Several sibling groups traveled together to attend the clan gathering. Debbie and I fit in this category. Those from England, Scotland and France  knew each other well. The strong thread that bound us all was our heritage, our kinship connection. Ian shared on our first evening together that clan means family. By our final dinner together, I felt the deep truth of those words.

Clan Means Family title meme

Maitlands and Lauderdales

Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect of a clan gathering. I’ve been a member of Clan Maitland for years, however I’ve never had opportunity to attend a gathering. Debbie and I added extra days around those allotted to the gathering so that we could explore and enjoy Edinburgh. We looked forward to meeting our kin and yet kept our expectations neutral.

A part of me wondered if being Lauderdales, the American branch of the family, would make us feel a bit like outsiders. Debbie and I also wondered how we should address our clan chief. Ian is the 18th Earl of Lauderdale The proper title for an earl is Lord. We wisely decided to see how others in our group addressed him!

Ian quickly set the tone for the next five days during our first evening together. While we dined, he moved from table to table, introducing himself and chatting with us. After dinner, he shared a couple of stories that I appreciated, about the family’s origination in Normandy. Placing a hand on his chest, our clan chief said simply, “I’m Ian. Clan means family. We are all kin.”

He answered the question of how to address him…and he established kinship. I loved and appreciated my chief immediately.

Clan Means Family First Dinner
First dinner together as family, at the Angel’s Share Hotel.
Clan Means Family Glenkinchie Distillery
Exploring the museum at Glenkinchie Distillery.
Clan Means Family Lauderdale Aisle
Sitting quietly in Lauderdale Aisle, above the family burial chamber.

Becoming Family

Between that first dinner and the last one, our group shifted from strangers to family. During our days exploring in the Borders and sharing meals, an amazing thing happened. The historic locations that we visited, connected to the Maitland family, became touchstones marking our journey in the past and bringing us together in the present.

These places told different parts of our story, a story shared between us. It changed perceptions, hearing ancient family stories and seeing how alike we are, rather than how different.

I loved that when Ian shared historical accounts, he often began with the words, “Your kinsman…”. He didn’t say, “My ancestor….my kinsman…”. No, he fleshed out people I’d only read about and made them real to me. He told stories from personal knowledge, which gave such depth to those I’d only known as a name printed on a page. And in the process, he connected them to me, to us, as our family, our kin.

Clan Means Family New Club
Drinks on the New Club balcony, in Edinburgh.
Thirlestane Castle Dining Room
Exploring Thirlestane Castle together.
Clan Means Family Lochcarron
In the Lochcarron showroom.

Clan Means Family

During my time with my kin, I learned that clan means family, indeed.

Curious, I looked up the word. The Cambridge dictionary defines clan as “a family or a group of families, especially in Scotland, who originally came from the same ancestor.” Ian’s claim is absolutely true.

Further, the root word for clan is the Latin word planta, which means “sprout”. That word became the Old Irish word cland, and the Scottish Gaelic word clann, meaning “offspring, family” which eventually became the word as we know it.

I love the idea of a sprout, a plant that comes from a single seed and grows, spreads and matures. A clan embodies the concept of a family tree, with the single trunk and the many, many branches that connect to it.

Clan Maitland at Thirlestane Castle
Clan means family…at Thirlestane Castle in Lauder, Scotland.
Clan Chief Ian Maitland, 18th Earl of Lauderdale
Clan means family…to our beloved Chief.
Clan Maitland Collage
Family collage. Ian and Cindy. John Maitland, Ian’s son, and Debbie. Cindy, Crawford and Debbie. Ian and Debbie.

Saying Goodbye

Those branches of the family gathered for a final dinner, to conclude our time together and say goodbye. I love formal Scottish dinners with their different courses. Dinner isn’t a hurried affair, but a meal to be savored and enjoyed.

At our large round table sat family members from Virginia, Arizona, Paris, France, Missouri, Oklahoma and London, England. It was so representative of our shared days and the way we came together to become family.

The food was excellent. Our glasses remained filled with fine wine. Conversations and laughter flowed around our table and outward, around the room. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Our meal finished, we exchanged email addresses. The group gathered on the stairs for a last family photo. We snapped pics of each other too. And we hugged and kissed cheeks, promising to remember our time together and stay in touch. My heart felt so full of love and appreciation for these, my kinsmen. I felt sad to say goodbye and yet so grateful for the connections.

Debbie and I will never forget our trip to Edinburgh together and the Clan Maitland Gathering. We left Scotland enriched by the experience and determined to return to that beautiful country as often as we can. Scotland feels like home. It always has to me. And now I know why. It IS home. I belong here. The Maitland Clan is my clan. And clan means family.

Clan Means Family Formal Dinner
Clan Maitland, gathered.

Check out the other Clan Maitland posts:

Clan Maitland Gathers

Maitlands in the Borders

Rosslyn Chapel & Thirlestane Castle

Traquair House

If you are a Lauderdale or Maitland descendant, join your kinsmen!

Clan Maitland UK

Clan Maitland North America

 


 

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Clan Maitland Gathers

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Beyond my desire to explore Edinburgh, another purpose drew me to Scotland this year. Members of Clan Maitland, the Scottish clan I am part of, gathered in the city. To meet kinsmen I am connected to has long been a dream of mine. Five days after arriving in Edinburgh, that dream became a reality.

Clan Maitland gathers in Scotland every ten years.  Family members descended from Maitlands and Lauderdales arrive from the countries they’ve scattered to.  This year the US, New Zealand, England, France and Scotland were represented.

The next few posts will share details about our fun time together and the family related historical sites we explored.

Clan Maitland Gathers Title Meme

Clan Maitland Gathers…for Tea

Clan members met for the first time on a Tuesday afternoon for a very Scottish tradition, Afternoon Tea. My sister Debbie and I walked the short distance from our apartment on Thistle Street to the Garden Room at the Kimpton Hotel on Charlotte Square. A few of our members, including our Clan Chief, would not arrive until evening, however this casual afternoon gathering proved a great way for people who are family yet strangers to break the ice.

What a joy to meet people I am connected with on Facebook whom I’ve never met face to face. We quickly embraced each other as kin and before long conversations and laughter flowed merrily around the room as we enjoyed a wonderful tea time.

That evening we all gathered at the Angel’s Share Hotel for dinner. The group from England arrived and I met Ian, the 18th Earl of Lauderdale and our Clan Chief. He immediately put us all at ease and entertained us with family stories. I learned that the Maitlands descended from the Mautalents of Normandy about 1000 to 1060.

Clan Maitland Gathers Tea Time

Afternoon Tea with Clan Maitland

Clan Maitland Gathers…on the Bus

The next morning we met early for our first full day of traveling and exploring together. Debbie and I smiled when we saw the bus, called a coach in Scotland, waiting for us. Lauderdale is such an uncommon name in the US. It’s fun to see it featured more prominently in Scotland.

Lauderdale Bus

Once on board the coach, we journeyed south to the small burgh of Haddington and our stop at St. Mary’s Parish Church and Lauderdale Aisle.

St Marys Collegiate Church

The Light of Lothian

St. Mary’s in Haddington dates back to 1139. With a length of 206 feet, it’s one of the longest churches in Scotland. Twice, in 1355 and again in 1548-49, the structure experienced extensive damage due to English invasions. The town repaired the west end of the church, erecting a barrier wall to seal off the east end, which remained roofless for hundreds of years.

In the 1970s restoration on the remaining section of the church began. Once completed the barrier wall came down and the church, called the Light of Lothian, continues to shine brightly in the community.

St Marys Interior

St Marys Organ
The magnificent pipe organ of St Mary’s, installed in 1990.

Clan Maitland Gathers…in Lauderdale Aisle

On the north side of the church, a small chapel awaited us. Because of the size of the room, our group of 30 plus people divided. Half of us toured the church while the others sat quietly in Lauderdale Aisle with Ian. Then we switched places.

I’ve read about Lauderdale Aisle, which once served as the sacristy of the church. It became a burial aisle for the Maitlands after the reformation of 1560. Entering through a stone archway, the marble effigies immediately draw the eye. The Renaissance monuments memorialize Sir John Maitland, Chancellor of Scotland under King James V, his son John, 1st Earl of Lauderdale, and their wives.

Beneath the aisle is a burial vault for the interment of the Earls and Countesses of Lauderdale. The  Duke of Lauderdale rests within this chamber as well. There are also niches for the ashes of other clansfolk.

The Doorway to Lauderdale Aisle

Marble Effigies

A Sacred Space

My group sat reverently on narrow wooden benches and listened to Ian share stories about the ancestors buried within Lauderdale Aisle. As he spoke a sacredness filled the room, shimmering in the soft light that filtered in through the window high on the wall.

I’ve so wanted to see this place. To experience it with my kinsmen, to hear stories told by my Clan Chief, created a surreal dream-like reality. I felt connection and awe, and deep gratitude for these men and women, long dead but surrounding us in spirit in this tiny room.

Ian concluded our time in Lauderdale Aisle by telling us that if we so wished, we could have our ashes brought here for interment as well. And he meant it. That amazing offer touched me in the part of my heart that declares itself Scottish and brought tears to my eyes.

St Marys Stained Glass Windwo

Clan Means Family

St. Mary’s Church and Lauderdale Aisle were the beginning of a long day together. We enjoyed lunch in Haddington and journeyed onward to two more places before returning to Edinburgh.

Ian told us that clan means family. I learned when Clan Maitland gathers, connection happens. When Clan Maitland gathers, stories are told. And when Clan Maitland gathers, adventures unfold.

I’ll be sharing more of those adventures in upcoming posts. Come discover my family roots, and some of the finest historical sites in Scotland, with me.

Clan Chief Ian with family
Ian sharing info and stories with us.

If you are a Maitland or Lauderdale, join our clan or read more about us HERE.

And check out these fun travel items by clicking below.

 


Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.