It is likely that Moidart has been inhabited since early times.
Shell middens and worked flint found near Acharacle indicate the
presence of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and Neolithic farmers/hunter
gatherers in the area. Burial cairns on the north shore of Loch
Shiel and the remnants of a hill-top fortification at An Dun on
the north shore of Loch Moidart are evidence of Bronze and Iron
HISTORY: Norse raiders probably settled in places with Viking names
such as Egnaig, and the ford across the River Shiel near Acharacle
( Ath Tharachail or Torquil's ford) is believed to be the site of
the Norse leader's defeat by Somerled. Sandra
The Celts, known as Scots came from Ireland during the fifth
century and settled in what became Argyllshire, forming a colony
which they called Dalriada
To the north and east the
Picts were in control and threatened many times to overrun the small
kingdom of the Scots
.. However in 864 the King of the Scots,
Kenneth Macalpine succeeded to the throne of the Picts and Gaelic
culture then came to dominate the whole kingdom of Alba, as Scotland
was then called. Land was held in common and was considered to belong
to the whole tribe
Malcolm Canmore and his successors (1057-1289) the social structure
was drastically changed as the feudal system of land-owning was
...a new concept of the legal rights
to land developed. The King was considered its owner with power
to grant lots by charter to certain of his subjects in return for
specific dues, including military service. A "Barony",
for instance, was the amount of land expected to provide the service
of an armed and mounted man.
the wars of independence which Scotland waged against England between
1296 and 1314, much land held by the pro-English was made forfeit
and reallocated to Scottish patriots. This was an important factor
for the growth of clan society. Land allocated to a King's favourite
passed to his children
. it was essentially an aristocratic
society and each member of the clan claimed kinship with the chief.
As time went on, inter-clan warfare developed and it was in the
interest of the chief to have a numerous following.
clansmen were "tenants at will" and could be moved about,
but it was always understood that they would always be provided
with land. By the seventeenth century a chief with a well-established
territory often gave a permanent lease to a son or other close relative.
These tenants were known as "Tacksmen" and were responsible
for the military organisation of the clan. They sublet most of their
land, many living comfortably off their tenants. These tenants worked
the land in groups, as joint cultivators, in a system known as "run-rig".
Crofts and Crofting, by Katharine Stewart, pages 2-4
In Moidart, a descendant of Somerled, John of Isla, married his
cousin Amie and their descendants became the Clanranalds of Moidart.
Amie was divorced by John and retired to Moidart where she improved
the already existing Castle Tirrim about 1353.
Ranald, first chief of Clanranald, received charter of lands including
Moidart, Arisaig, Morar, Knoydart, Eigg, Rhum, and South Uist, from
his father and confirmed by King Robert II. Castle Tioram, Christian
Aikman, page 6
The eighth chief of Clanranald Macdonald was John "Moidartach",
who in 1532 was granted lands in Moidart, Arisaig, the Island of
Eigg and in Uist - under The Great Seal. Castle Tioram, Christian
Aikman, page 8
Battle of Blar-na-leine (Field of the Shirts) between Frasers and
Clanranald of Moidart at Kinlochlochy. The Hub of the Highlands,
The book of Inverness and District, page 209