Scotland is famous for its clan system, whereby huge "families" retain strong links and a common identity.|
However, although many people assume that the clan system is a Scottish trend, traditionally clans were only present in the Highlands of Scotland.
|The clan system developed from the 11th century onwards and was a way to bind groups of families together. Clan members will all share the same name, although they aren't all necessarily related by blood, for unrelated families would have joined together for group protection under a clan chief.|
The 18th century saw the forced suppression of Highlanders and their culture and so the clan system fell under attack and was almost destroyed. However, clan loyalties were so strong that the system survived, albeit in a diluted form.
Today clan bonds are often as strong as ever - centuries-old disputes are remembered as if they happened yesterday! However, today clan loyalty is non-violent and tends more towards friendly rivalry.
Even the millions of Scots who live outside of Scotland are still proud of their clans and remain loyal to it - evident in the large number of visitors of Scottish descent who travel to Scotland to enthusiastically trace their descent and purchase their own clan tartan.
In most Scottish towns there will be shops selling tartan goods, and in the larger cities there are record offices which can help in tracing Scottish ancestors.
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