Clan Carruthers

CLAN CARRUTHERS: The Oldest Clans in Scotland: the tale of a tartan Pinocchio.

Research in genetics is moving forwards at a fast pace, it is opening the doors in undertanding such issues as human and animal disease and human populations past and present. However it, like all research, has its positives, negatives, strengths and weaknesses, as all study is a dynamic process.

Therefore, a good understanding of the research process allows the interpretation and evaluation of the outcomes and results much easier to present to others.

Sadly, this is not always the case and can lead to misrepresentation, whether by accident or even in a deliberate attempt to dupe the reader.

Below is a chart showing tartans of various Scottish clans carrying below names and dates of those clans and what seems to be their first chiefs named. These are in the main in Gaelic, under the heading; ‘Oldest Clans of Scotland’. The publishers of course, are the usual culprits.

It seems to claim that this information was taken from research carried out by Trinity College Dublin, a highly respected university with a superb genetic research facility.

A Scottish Clan/Family has a few distinct items that give it a very personal identity. Primarily this has to be its proud name, supported by its history. A tartan, registered against its name, is also one of the main visual tags it can have, as it announces both their presence and their individuality.

So if the piece below is accurate, this may be some exciting new information regarding our family. However, as the source is highly suspect, we must dig a wee bit deeper to gauge its level of validity in respect at the very least, of our own family.

Firstly let us consider the research carried out by Trinity College, Dublin which may or may not support the information on the above chart:

The claim stated on the piece, is based on: DNA Project by Trinity College Dublin 2006-2016 DNA relationship to the ‘Daln’Araidhe and UL Euchah Cobha’ .

Firstly what is Daln’Araidhe and UL Euchah Cobha?

Well the actual name is Dál nAraidi, which is the Gaelic (the Goidelic Celtic Q lanquage) name for the Cruthin kingdom. These were a people of early medieval Ireland and one time rulers of Ulster. Their kingdom covered what is roughly today’s Irish County of Antrim and lent its name to the kingdom of Dál Riata, which encompassed the western Scottish seaboard into Argyll.

In the late 8th century, the kingdom of Dal n’Araidi had split into County Antrim and the County Down branches. The latter was to become, not the Ul Enuchan Cobna but the Magh Cobo (Ui Euchach Cobo) and a kingdom in its own right. It was headed by their monarchs, who were themselves known as the Kings of Cuib.

So what research was carried out by Trinity College, Dublin involving these two kingdoms and connecting the ‘9’ Scottish Clans listed.

Trinity are prolific in their publications but although a few overlap on patrilinieal Irish y-DNA, the closest we could find within the time frame was that they looked at the Ui Neill of Ireland through y-DNA testing. These were published in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy in 2006 and the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in 2008.

We have written to Trinity and also examined their list of publications and to date we have found nothing that would substantiate the claims on the piece above. For those interested, here is their list of research publications inclusive of 2006-2016. Based on the information we have, it would take some serious exaggeration to connect any of the named research to the information on the chart itself.

However, and without bein hasty let’s look closer to see if there is anything in the piece which is evidence based and does not require a joining of the dots to make something appear robust, that in itself isn’t in fact factual.

We have therefore looked at each clan in turn, based on current evidence, to see if there is any link based on the information presented, and check for any evidence that may connect them.

The Named ‘Oldest ‘ Clans of Scotland

Clan (Mac)Gregor:

Date Listed: 14 AD

Status: Official

Current Chief: Sir Malcolm MacGregor of MacGregor

Area: Scottish Highlands

Name Source: Son of Gregor (Patronymic)

Tartan: This is MacGregor, assigned to the family by Wilsons of Bannockburn in the early 1800’s, and was worn at the Grand Ball on the Kings visit to Scotland in 1822. It wasn’t known as MacGregor before that time.

Named Chief: This clan held lands in Glenstrae, Glenlchy and Glenorchy in Argyll. The ‘belief’ is they came from an ancient Celtic Royal family through the hereditary Abbots of Glendochart. However, most historians now agree that the first certain chief was Gregor ‘of the golden bridles’ in the mid 1300’s. Although there are some who claim Griogar, son of Dungal in AD 879-889, again there is no evidence to support this. Whatever the story this is not 14 AD, nor is there any link to Feradach Finnfechtnach who according to legend and it is purely legend, was High King of Ireland.

But we are more than happy to look at their evidence.

Further, there is no link with Clan Grant as suggested. Interestingly the latest DNA evidence shows Clan Grant’s ancestry being Scandinavian Royal stock, rather than Norman, which was once thought to be the case. Irish was never in the mix.

Chart Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Clan Carruthers

Date Listed: 40 AD

Status: Official

Current Chief: Peter Carruthers of Holmains

Area: Scottish Borders

Name Source : From the lands of Caer Ruther (Topographical)

Tartan: This is Bruce (Ancient) and not a Carruthers tartan. The Bruce tartan, it is claimed, came from a weavers chart dating 1571, with a specimen once held by the family of Cummings-Bruce of Dumphill in the mid 19th century but this has not been confirmed. Again no family tartan has been recognised prior to the early 1800’s. As such, a Bruce tartan or a variation ie modern, weathered or ancient belongs to Bruce and not Carruthers, which has its own registered tartan.

Named Chief: This family held lands in Annandale, Dumfriesshire, South West Scotland. Originally the owners of the lands of Carruthers took the name in the 1100’s, with the first record of the name coming from that time (reign of Alexander II). Our first Chiefly line was Mouswald in 1320, but DNA has shown the male line from Scandinavia appeared in 900 AD, with the female line going back to the Selgovae Celtic tribe of the region.

What about Caratacus? Caratacus was a warrior and war-chief of the Catuvellauni tribe from South East England and there is definitely no DNA nor historic evidence linking Caratacus with Carruthers.

NB: You can’t just take some ‘research’ and plant Carruthers in their surrounded by nonsense and expect acceptance, but again we are happy to look at their evidence.

Chart Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Clan Muirhead

Date Listed: 275 AD

Area: Scottish Lowlands

Status: Armigerous

Current Chief: None

Name Source: From the lands of Muir-head (Topographical)

Tartan: Not the Muirhead Tartan, neither listed from Clan Muirhead itself nor the Scottish Register of Tartan. This is said to be the correct sett of the tartan named as ‘Muirhead’ with the threadcount coming from the Tartans Museum in Franklin. The Museum took it from the original specimen dated 1854. The Muirhead website ( shows a slightly different version of this ‘original’ sett where the yellow is centred on a darker brown square within the lighter brown. Again no family tartan was recognised prior to the early 1800’s.

Named Chief: The name was first recorded as William Muirhead of Lauchope ( William de Murehede) in Lanarkshire at the end of the 14th century.

Again there is no evidence that Muiredach Tirech son of Fiacha Sraibhtine, who was a semi-legendary High King of Ireland of the fourth century was, if he existed a Muirhead chief.

But again we are happy to look at their evidence.

Chart Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Clan MacFie

Date Listed: 275 AD

Area: Scottish Highlands

Status: Armigerous

Current Chief: None

Name Source: The name appears to be derived from MacDhuibhshith (son of the dark fairy). (Patronymic).

Tartan: First seen in the 1880 Clans Originaux (as McPhee) and then in the W & A.K. Johnston book of 1906. As officially approved by Commander A C ‘Sandy’ McPhie, and as recorded by Court of Lord Lyon LCB 79 dated 29th August 1991. Again no family tartan was recognised prior to the early 1800’s.

Named Chief: The surname originated in Colonsay in the Inner Hebrides in the mid 17th Century. However in 1164 Duibhshith was known to have been Ferleighinn or Reader at Iona when Malcolm IV was king (1141-1165). One, Johannes Macdufhi also appears as a charter witness in Dumfriesshire in the reign of Alexander II.

The MacFies are recognised as having been hereditary Keepers of the Records of Man and the Isles. Not many records survived, one which did was a record which shows that the Lord of the Isles conducted business in both the ancient Celtic tongue and clerical Latin rather than Gaelic.

Again there is no evidence that Fiacha Sraibhtine was the progenator of MacFie but rather there is to the contrary.

However, we are happy to look at their evidence.

Chart Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Clan Donald (MacDonald):

Date Listed: 280 AD

Area : Scottish Highlands and Islands

Status: Official

Current Chief: High Chief, Godfrey James MacDonald of that Ilk

Name Source: From the Norse-Gaelic Dòmhnall Mac Raghnuill, whose father Reginald/Ranald was ‘King of the Isles’. His father was Somerled, Lord of the Isles in 1207. (Patronymic)

Tartan: The tartan shown is the branch tartan of Macdonald of Sleat, not the Clan Macdonald tartan itself. The MacDonald tartan is oldest recorded version of the Clan sett but again was not registered until 1819. Of the nine independent branches of the Clan Donald, there are at least 27 different setts. It was not until 1947 that the MacDonalds again had a high chief, MacDhomnuill, who by tradition has the final word on the tartans of the clan. That right was granted to Alexander MacDonald of MacDonald whose son Godfrey is now the 8th Chief. It is the same sett as is shown in 1880 Clans Originaux.

Named Chief: Dyfnwal Hen or Dumnagual Hen was the son of King Cinuit of the ancient Celtic kingdom Strathclyde (he was not Norse-Gaelic), he lived in the 5th century, and as such the evidence shows that for many reasons, including the fact that he was not a Norse-Gael, that he was not chief to the MacDonalds.

Chart Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Clan Dunlop:

Date Listed: 325 AD

Area: Scottish Lowlands

Status: Official

Current Chief: James Stuart Wallace Dunlop of that Ilk

Name Source: From the lands of Dunlop in Ayrshire (Topographical)

Tartan: Sadly not even close. In 1974, Richard Dunlop, of Washington DC, the second President of the Dunlop Family Clan Society set out to establish a clan tartan for Dunlop. This was achieved in 1982 and #1197 (original Scottish Tartans Authority reference) was unveiled at Grandfather Mountain Games of that year.

Named Chief: The first recording of the name was in 1260, when Dominus Gulliemus (William) de Dunlop is noted as a witness in a deed in the Burgh of Irvine, the Dunlops take their Chiefs from William.

As such Eochaid Mieredach, (Eochaid Mac Muiredach) according to legend was the father of Niall of the Nine Hostages and High King of Ireland in the 4th century and again has no links with Dunlop. Alternatively, Eochaid mac Echdach was a king of Dài Riata in western Scotland (726-733)but again no connection at all to the Dunlop family and wrong time line.

Chart Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Clan Millony (Cameron): No Scottish Clan or surname Millony listed.

Date Listed: 345 AD

Area: Scottish Highlands/Lowlands

Status: Official

Current Chief: Donald Cameron of Lochiel

Name Source: Two branches are deemed to be descended from the MacGillonies although they are now classed as a sept of Clan Cameron (listed in 1428) or a Cameron of Ballegarno in Fife (Topographical)

Tartan: First illustrated in the ‘Vestiarium Scoticum’ this sett is known as the Cameron Clan tartan. The tartan was recorded by the City of Dunedin in Lord Lyon Public Register of all Arms & Bearings 36/86 on 25th November 1947.

Named Chief : There were numerous names circulating in the 13th century which would appear to be the progenitors of the name Cameron, all evolving from the Gaelic terms for a crooked hill and a crooked nose. The more probable theory is that their first known chief, Donald Dubh, who may have been the 11th in his line by 1411, was a descendant of either the MacGillonies or the family Cambrun of Ballegarno in mediaeval Fife. Donald is recored as having brought together the conferation of tribes under the one banner, to be known as Clan Cameron’, with Lochaber their territory.

Interestingly the Chiefs of Cameron were called Captains until 1528, when lands became a barony of Locheil by James V and the Chief took the title Cameron of Lochiel.

Fiachrae Collas Uiar on the other hand was an Irish Prince and son of the High King Eochaid Mugmedòn and was the ancestor of the dynasties of Connacht in Ireland and definitely not related to Clan Cameron.

Chart Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Clan Colla: (Not listed nor recognised by the Lord Lyon, Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, Blacks: Surnames of Scotland, Plean and Way: Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopaedia, Scottish Government: Scottish Register of Tartans)

Date Listed: 325 AD

Area: Fictional Scottish Clan

Status: Fictional Scottish Clan

Current Chief: Fictional Scottish Clan

Name Source: Fictional Scottish Clan

Tartan: No Tartan Registered

Named Chief: Eochaid Murdeach Tireach was of legend, a King of Ireland from the 4th century, who was exiled for killing the three Collas, sons of Eochaid Doimlén. Legend has it he was grandfather to Niall ‘of the Nine Hostages’.

However as Colla has never been Scottish nor has any listings been found referring to them as a Scottish clan or family, it is irrelevant and fake.

Chart Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Clan Drummond:

Date Listed: 252 AD

Area: Scottish Highlands

Status: Official

Current Chief: James Drummond, Earl of Perth

Name Source: From the Parish of Drymen, near Stirling

Tartan: Not accurately portrayed. The Perth Drummond sett closely resembles the pattern used by McIan for his Drummond figure, which Logan asserts is in fact a Grant tartan. Nevertheless it is established that the Drummonds wore this sett to meet George IV in Edinburgh in 1822 and is registered against their name.

Named Chief: The first noble on the lands was Hungarian according to family legend.   It is claimed he accompanied King Edgar the Aetheling, who was born in Hungary and was the last King of England from the Royal House of Wessex and his sisters to Scotland, who were escaping from the Normans. One of the sisters named Margaret married Malcolm III (1058-1093). The first Chief recorded was Malcom Beg, who it is recorded was Chamberlain to Lennox and died before 1260.

Regarding Murideach Tireach, although we are sure the pattern is obvious by now if not and again, not factual.

Chart Fact or Fiction: Fiction


There are a few things that our analysis and research shows, and these are simple to self-check:

  • All the tartans on the chart are of a similar sett/colour in what seems to be an attempt to make the group of 8 Scottish Clans + 1 unrecognisable clan part of a historical collective. They are obviously not.
  • There is no evidence of a family / clan tartans before the early 1800’s.
  • The names of all the Chiefs listed, except for Caratacas (no link to Carruthers) and Dyfnwal Hen or Dumnagual Hen (No link to MacDonald) who were a Celtic Britons, are Irish Kings of Legend. As such no direct links there.
  • Listing Chiefs names beside the names of Scottish clans and families because they ‘ma sound the same, simply cannot work, nor factually does it. This is not how good evidence and robust research works.
  • The dates given, again seem to be an attempt to suggest antiquity, which do not match with the actual time lines nor the use of the Clan/Family names themselves.
  • Throwing Carruthers in the mix seem to be an attempt by the authors to suggest that our ‘name’ and in fact any of these names goes back into antiquity, they do not. Further they are not of Irish royal descent
  • The Bruce tartan, ‘ancient’ or otherwise is registered to the family of Bruce, the clue is in the name ‘Bruce’. It is not Carruthers.
  • The claims of this information coming from research carried out by a top Irish University with no evidence linking to the information offered, nor in fact found rings loud alarm bells.
  • Even with the best will in the world, the DNA snps and timeline do not match the information offered, especially for Carruthers, but again we are happy to view the evidence
  • This is definitely not a list of the ‘Oldest Clans of Scotland’ so from the title downwards the information seems totally made up.


Legend: A traditional story, sometimes popularly regarded as historical but not authenticated or verified by evidence or facts.

Eochaid: meaning horse, was a common name amongst Gaelic figures of legend, it came to mean Hector in Scots.

Official: means recognised by the Lord Lyon as having a Chief in place.

The Vestiarium Scoticum was compiled by two brothers named Sobieski Stuart who claimed to be the grandsons of Bonnie Prince Charlie. It was published in 1842 and shortly after its publication it was denounced as a forgery. It is generally accepted today that neither the brothers themselves nor the Vestiarium are what they were purported to be. However many of the tartans listed in the book against a clan name were adopted by them as previously no tartan had existed that was linked to their name.

The Clans Originaux is a swatch/pattern book found in Paris in c 1880 and was used by J Claude Fres Et Cie who marketed tartan designs from Alsace.

All in all and at best, a very weak and badly researched piece of ‘work’, not to be taken seriously.

As always and as a Society, we offer Facts and not Fiction,which is easy to self research by the enquiring mind of our readers.

Promptus et Fidelis

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