LYONs not from Glen Lyon Scotland

Date: Tue Aug 22 16:20:16 1995
From: (Sheila A. McGregor)
Subject: Re: LYON – glen lyon – scotland

Dear David

If your story is correct, then this family of Lyons has no
connection with Glen Lyon. However it was fashionable in
the feudal period (from 12c onwards) to invent plausible or
less plausible Norman ancestors, so the Campbells, who were
completely Gaelic as far as anyone can tell, became de
Beau Champs, from a supposed link between this and Campo
Belli; it’s a pun and most of these names and derivations
are based on puns. Professor Barrow spent some time looking
for actual Normans coming into Scotland and had to conclude
there was actually no evidence for them; he believed there
had been some kind of settlement and that imported people
were brought in to manage the new feudal estates and back up
the king but he couldn’t find any information whatsoever about
numbers or whether they came with wives and children or
what. I think he concluded they were mostly single younger
men, adventurers, from N Europe, all the way from Friesia to
Britanny, not from Normandy particularly. But I think he
was rather puzzled by the lack of firm identity, despite the
hundreds or possibly thousands of claims of Norman descent
in Scotland.

There is no possibility that the people of Glenlyon were Norman.
Settlement in this glen was part of the general settlement in
Perthshire which seems to go back to the Late Bronze Age and
may indeed be much earlier, though fixed settlements did not
appear anywhere in Highland Perthshire until c.600 BC. The
people of Glenlyon were part and parcel of the general settlement
of pastoral people in N Perthshire, including Atholl and stretching
over into Argyll where McGregors were also established around
Loch Awe and in neighbouring glens.

Glenlyon is noted for the number of circular ‘homesteads’ or
cattle pens in it; they were houses of a kind, of uncertain age
but certainly being used in the Pictish period, c.600 AD. The
same kind of pens are also found near Loch Awe.

There seems to be nothing to link the surname Lyon with the glen
of the name but I would not rule it out completely, since I do
know that Lionnach was used to describe people from Glenlyon, as
a kind of pseudo-surname.

Sheila A. McGregor

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