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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Clachan \Clach"an\, n. [Scot., fr. Gael.] A small village containing a church. [Scot.]
--Sir W. Scott

Sitting at the clachon alehouse.
--R. L. Stevenson.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"small village" (Scottish and Irish), early 15c., from Gaelic clach (plural clachan) "stone."


n. (context Scotland English) A small village containing a church.


A clachan (, or , ; , ; , ) is a type of small traditional settlement common in Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland until the middle of the 20th century. Originally kirktowns, today they are usually defined as small villages lacking a church, post office, or other formal building. Their origin is unknown, but it is likely that they are of a very ancient root, most likely dating to medieval times. A true clachan would have been a cluster of small single-storey cottages of farmers and/or fishermen, invariably found on poorer land. They were related to the rundale system of farming. According to David Lloyd, The Great Famine in Ireland (1845–49) caused such disruption to the social system that the clachans virtually disappeared. In some cases, they have evolved into holiday villages, or one or two houses have taken over, turning smaller houses into agricultural outhouses. The remains can be seen in many upland and coastal areas. Sometimes they are clustered in a dip in the landscape, to protect from Atlantic winds, other times they stretch haphazardly along main roads.

Usage examples of "clachan".

The entire hall had fallen silent, awestruck, as she relayed the legend of the Clachan Fala, the Blood Stone.

A witch, charged with the hiding and protection of the Clachan Fala, stole the stone through witchcraft, to keep safe until a Graham and a Maxwell of the proper graynes joined again in a worthy union.

The fable claims that in order for him to accomplish all these miracles he must be in possession of the Clachan Fala.

Oh yes, this proved him the worthiest man to possess the Clachan Fala.

The legend of the Clachan Fala indicates that a marriage between an Annan Maxwell and an Eden Graham must take place.

After a thousand years of keeping the Clachan Fala safe, she would be the one to muck it all up.

Sir Patrick is probably just like Ridley, obsessed with that stupid legend and determined to find the Clachan Fala.

The Clachan Fala was not yet in hand, but that mattered not at all, as it soon would be.

Had Fayth found this first, they might have succeeded in passing it off as the Clachan Fala.

Angus led the old garron to the place called Clachan Knowe where big erratic boulders sprouted from the heather like henge-stones.

From where he stood on Clachan Knowe, a broad ridge ran diagonally to the floor of the moor and to a point not far from where the beasts lay.

Angus dropped the glasses to his chest and looked away as he saw Jason take his rifle out of the canvas case and swing it round to point directly at Clachan Knowe.

The only man who might have been of any use was old Absalon the fowler down at the clachan, and he was bedridden.

The clachan, through which he presently passed, was sodden, shabby and tumble-down, like a city slum transported to a sour upland.

Then he went out to the roadside clachan which was Rinks, and turned his steps over the salty pastures to the riverside.