Scottish clan names include Bruce, Campbell, Drummond and Dunbar. All of these clans have played prominent roles in Scottish history. Other clan names include MacDonald, Graham and Hamilton. Official Scottish clan names are registered with the Court of the Lord Lyon. As of 2015, there are over 200 registered clans.
Clans are a legally recognized group in Scotland. Most clans are led by a chieftain, who has the power to extend or deny membership of the clan to anyone. Chieftains typically inherit their positions.
Historically, clans are associated with specific regions of Scotland. Most clans originated in the Scottish Highlands, although clans from other parts of Scotland are officially recognized as well.
Many clans possess registered tartans, which display patterns unique to the clan. However, clan tartans are a relatively recent development and were not common until the 18th century.
While a clan is traditionally a large group united under a chieftain, a sept refers to a smaller family group that does not hold as much power as a clan. Septs often formed alliances with clans to receive protection while still maintaining a separate identity. Numerous last names in the United States are recognized as septs, including Smith, Abbott and Skinner.