Monday, September 24, 2012

Which MacFarlane's Lantern is Better?

It's fun having a last name that comes from a clan in Scotland. Sure, the MacFarlanes are a small clan, but that's only because they stole cows from the Calhouns and all their men kept getting killed off (or so I'd been told). I found plenty of women's names on gravestones in my trip to Scotland with MacFarlane as their middle name ... not so many men. But I'd always thought that MacFarlane's Lantern referred to the full moon when the MacFarlanes would go cattle raidin'.

Today I found this post on Strange Maps about Scottish tartans and history, of interest to anyone with one of those 16 last names, and I saw immediately that it had a different version of history:
(15) Clan MacFarlane
In past, more violent times, the Moon in Scotland was known as MacFarlane’s Lantern, for the clan was famous for its daring night-time raids on the English during Scotland’s Wars of Independence. The last chieftain of this once much-feared clan died in 1886, since which time its chiefship is dormant, although the clan remains armigerous.

So I'm torn -- do I want my ancestors to be brave or rascals? What would you choose? I'll reconcile the two by imagining them raiding British cattle.

When I visited the old clan grounds in my Scotland trip, I was aware of the chiefship vacancy, but I couldn't find out how to apply ... probably involves something horrible like animal sacrifices or caber tosses or, worst of all, eating haggis.


Anonymous said...

If you dont mind I should like to borrow some of this blog, or at least paraphrase some of it, for a short speech re the Clan MacFarlane later this summer. Earl MacFarland (

Earl MacFarland said...

If you dont mind can I borrow patrts of this or paraphrase some,

BenMc said...

Earl, Please do. If you want to cite me by name I'm Ben McFarland up in Seattle. Nice to meet another MacFarlane clan member!

Crystal Blalock said...

Another MacFarlane descendant here! Nice to meet you. I joined a group on facebook today you might enjoy!