by Sarah Twells Causey
My “someday” bucket list had always included a trip to Kilravock Castle in Scotland to visit the home of my Rose ancestors. When my mom proposed a family trip during her 70th birthday dinner, I was elated.
Kilravock (circa 1460) near Inverness, is not a standard tour stop. The challenge of getting there was solved when a friend connected us with a travel agency that devised a personalized guided trip for our family.
Our guide, Jamie, Lord Sempill (yes, an actual Lord) greeted us, dressed in the kilt. When he began escorting us up and down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, we knew we were in capable hands. He shared the intricate historical and political details surrounding Mary Queen of Scots and along the way helped us discern the finer flavors of a wee dram.
There were lots of stops on our itinerary so it took several days to reach Kilravock. Upon arrival, we were warmly welcomed by our Clan Chief, David Rose. He gave us the grand tour connecting us with everything: family portraits, the grand table in the castle hall, and the incredible arboretum. Dream-come-true: I was in the place of my forebears.
Fond farewells with David included his suggestion to join Clan Rose in America. As the car door clicked shut, my sister-in-law, Beth, clicked on the first Clan Rose Facebook page her smart phone presented. The page listed important Rose descendants and astonishingly, a previous William Forbes of Craigievar, from whom Lord Sempill is descended. “Jamie,” she said, “You’re our cousin!”
Lord Sempill, was intrigued. Even as he prepared the tour, he hadn’t realized that his 6th great grandmother, Margaret, was a Rose of Kilravock. “I have to take you to MY ancestral family home!” he responded, and a day later, we were on our way to Craigievar castle in search of Margaret.
We expected to find her portrait hanging in the castle, but instead we found her during a coffee stop in Alford. Jamie dropped into his friend Ian’s antique shop for a quick hello and learned that Ian had recently been going through parish records and found that Margaret Rose left enough money to care for the poor in the parish for 230 years right up until 1970!
That random bit fueled our excitement as we then toured her former home, Craigievar Castle, now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. Finished in 1626, it’s perfectly preserved with ornate plaster work on the ceilings, rich furnishings, and cozy ambiance. Jamie gave us the most personal tour introducing us to his other ancestors and sharing his own stories of visiting his grandparents while a boy.
It’s always good to find a Lord or two in the family tree. It’s even better having one drive you to his castle to meet your shared ancestors. The expected and unexpected connections made this trip memorable and the beginning of more connections in our clan. We went in search of ancestors and came home with a larger family.