Clans of the Scottish Highlands: A Three Part Course with Dr. Alan Montgomery

Clans of the Scottish Highlands: A Three Part Course with Dr. Alan Montgomery


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Can't make this time? A video recording will be sent to all participants after each event.

One of the most fascinating and complex aspects of Scotland’s rich history is the story of its clans. Derived from the Gaelic word for ‘children’, a clan was a community of families led by a chief, a close-knit group who lived, loved, fought, and often died together. In medieval times, some Highland clan chiefs even came to rival the kings of Scotland in terms of power and wealth. 

Our three-part course will explore the history of the Highland clans, looking at their origins in the early days of the Scottish nation and their rise in the centuries that followed. We will discover how Scotland’s monarchs tried (and failed) to bring the unruly clans under their control and learn about the infighting which led to never-ending conflict in the north. The power of clans began to decline by the 1600s, but it was failure of the Jacobite rebellions in the 1700s that proved their downfall. The Clearances saw many Highlanders forced to leave Scotland and search for new lives across the ocean. But romantic memories of the clans lived on, and today thousands of clan members regularly attend huge gatherings to celebrate the history of their illustrious ancestors. 

Led by a Scottish historian, these interactive seminars will examine the rise and fall of the clans, a colourful but bloody tale of power, violence, intrigue and betrayal. Designed to inspire curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an insight into the real story of Scotland’s unique Highland culture.

Lecture One: Family Affairs
We will begin by examining the origins of Gaelic culture in northern Scotland and exploring the beginnings of clan networks in the unsettled early years of the Scottish nation. During this conversation, we will also discover what life was like in a clan, how its hierarchy worked and how certain clans rose to prominence.

Lecture Two: Attempts to Unify
In our second seminar, we will look at clan resistance to centralized government and look at the many attempts by the Kings of Scotland to secure the loyalty and obedience of the clan chieftains. As we shall see, the Jacobite rebellions would split the allegiances of the clans, leading to dramatically different outcomes after the pivotal battle of Culloden in 1746.

Lecture Three: The Highland Clearances
The final seminar will reveal the fate of the clans in the aftermath of the Jacobite defeat at Culloden as the Hanoverian regime attempted to suppress Gaelic culture and finally eliminate the power of the clans. As well as looking at the tragic phenomenon known as the Highland Clearances and the resulting emigrations, we will also study the legacy of the clans and discover how clan connections are still celebrated today. 

Alan Montgomery was born and raised in Scotland but has spent most of his adult life in London. Having achieved an MA in Art History at Glasgow University, he worked for many years in the art world at both an international auction house and an antique dealer. In recent years he has returned to academia, achieving an MA in Classical Civilisation in 2011, and has recently completed a Ph.D. in which he analyzed eighteenth-century attitudes towards the ancient Roman world. In addition to his work for Context Travel, Alan also writes catalog essays on Contemporary Art for a leading auctioneer. Elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 2017, his first book, entitled 'Classical Caledonia', was published by Edinburgh University Press in August 2020.

How does it work?
This is a three-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture. 

When will I receive the Zoom link?
Your link to enter the Zoom room will be the same for all sessions. It will be sent to the email address used to place your order 30 minutes prior to each lecture's start time.

Is there a reading list in advance?
Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there are suggested readings for further investigation. These will be provided at the course's conclusion.

How long are the lectures?
Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?
The course is $105 USD for three lectures.

Is a recording available?
Yes. All registered participants will be sent a recording link within 48 hours of each session's conclusion.

Are there additional seminars, courses, and in-person experiences being led on the topic of Scottish History?
Yes!  Context Experts will be leading several virtual experiences in the coming weeks. Details are available here.

Our Context Tours of the United Kingdom are available to explore here.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 7 reviews
71%
(5)
29%
(2)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
C
C.F. (Santa Monica, US)
A wonderful series!

This is the third or fourth conversation I have taken With Dr. Montgomery. The subject matter is interesting, and Dr. Montgomery is so knowledgeable and informative, but he is also very engaging to listen to. I particularly appreciate many of his perspectives on the locations and the history. I was very pleased to see that he has a number more of these coming up in areas that I want to learn more about.

A
A. (Los Altos, US)
Excellent presentation and conversation!

Alan gives a very clear presentation of what can seem like complicated history. It is a pleasure to learn from him

A
A. (Victoria, CA)
Always a Great Speaker

Knowledgeable and entertaining

A
A. (Portland, US)

Guest did not leave comment

R
R.D. (New York, US)
Clans of the Scottish Highlands - Part 1

Super interesting course! I have taken several different classes with Alan Montgomery and he is always incredibly informative while being very entertaining, and this class was no different! We covered so many fascinating details of Scottish history interwoven with descriptions of daily life during the periods covered, and not a moment that wasn't interesting. I am looking forward to the other two classes in this series!

Customer Reviews

Based on 7 reviews
71%
(5)
29%
(2)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
C
C.F. (Santa Monica, US)
A wonderful series!

This is the third or fourth conversation I have taken With Dr. Montgomery. The subject matter is interesting, and Dr. Montgomery is so knowledgeable and informative, but he is also very engaging to listen to. I particularly appreciate many of his perspectives on the locations and the history. I was very pleased to see that he has a number more of these coming up in areas that I want to learn more about.

A
A. (Los Altos, US)
Excellent presentation and conversation!

Alan gives a very clear presentation of what can seem like complicated history. It is a pleasure to learn from him

A
A. (Victoria, CA)
Always a Great Speaker

Knowledgeable and entertaining

A
A. (Portland, US)

Guest did not leave comment

R
R.D. (New York, US)
Clans of the Scottish Highlands - Part 1

Super interesting course! I have taken several different classes with Alan Montgomery and he is always incredibly informative while being very entertaining, and this class was no different! We covered so many fascinating details of Scottish history interwoven with descriptions of daily life during the periods covered, and not a moment that wasn't interesting. I am looking forward to the other two classes in this series!