History of the Macnaughtens Clan

Copied from The Macnachtan Association newsletter:

The Red Banner Newsletter  Edition No. 2004-04 – December 2002



Our story begins in the early 5th century with the Pictish kings.


The Macnaughtens are one of the clans who claimed descent from the great Pictish rulers of Mo­ray. The name Nechtan, which may mean 'pure or clear, was popular in at least one branch of the Pictish royal 'line. In the 13th century there are records of 3 brothers, Gilchrist, Athe and Gilbert, the sons of Malcolm Macnachten. Gilchrist received from Alexan­der III a charter in 1267 granting him the keepership of a castle warding the narrow Pass of Brander, the gateway to the west.


By coming to Loch Awe, the Macnaughtens became neighbors of the powerful and acquisitive Campbells. When Robert the Bruce set out to gain the throne, the Campbell's were quick to come to his support while the Macnaughtens, under the influence of the Mac­dougalls, opposed him. The Macnaughtens appear to have changed their allegiance and a Baron Macnach­ten is recorded fighting at Bannockburn in 1314.


The Macnaughtens gained little from their change of heart, and from that point on the Campbells dominated Loch Awe. In 1478, Alexander, acknowledged the Campbell Earls of Argyll as feudal superiors and accepted a charter to his lands from the earls hands.


His grandson, also Alexander, was knighted by James IV and followed the king to Flodden in 1513, where he was one of the few survivors.


Another Alexander started the rebuilding of Dun­derave Castle on Loch Fyne and his son, lain, com­pleted it in 1596. In 1627 the Macnachten chiefs raised a force of bowmen to go to the siege of La Rochelle to assist the French Huguenot rebels in their fight against Cardinal Richelieu. The chief was in high favour at the court of Charles 1, however, the expense of the French expedition and the extravagance de­manded by living at court forced Macnachten to mort­gage his lands.