The Dunvegan has a long history dating back to the 1850s. During this time it has been known as the Dunvegan Inn, Dunvegan Hotel and now – The Dunvegan.
Thanks to a number of sources, we have pieced together a little history of the building – but we would welcome any additional information that you may have or anything that you feel needs correcting!
From research and a little insider knowledge, it would appear that the 25th Clan Chief, Norman MacLeod commissioned the Dunvegan Inn around 1858, from plans worked on by esteemed Inverness architect Alexander Ross. The property was originally recorded as the ‘Factors House’.
As travellers and trade increased, the structure of the property was altered to accommodate the numbers.
In 1910, Donald Budge (eldest son of Donald Budge and Margaret Lamont) took over the hotel. He was an elder in the church and took a prominent part in both church and community affairs. The family retained the Dunvegan Hotel from 1910 until 1946.
For many years, until about 1947, it was a Temperance Hotel. It was Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod (the 28th Chief of Clan MacLeod) who urged the licensing court to eventually grant an alcohol licence to the hotel.
Since then the property has been owned by a number of families, most recently by sisters Alison and Diane Raisbeck.
The origin of the name Dunvegan is the source of continuous healthy debate. The first syllable, Dun, is a common part of many names that come from Scottish Gaelic and means fort or castle. The source of the second half of the name, vegan, is less clear. Some have suggested it comes from the Gaelic ‘beagain’ meaning few in number or small in size. Others believe it comes from the name of a Norse chieftan, Began. On the whole, ‘Began’s fort’ seems the simplest and therefore the most likely explanation. The name was written as ‘Dunbegane’ in 1498; as ‘Dunveggane’ in 1517; and as ‘Dunnevegane’ in 1553.
The ‘fort’ in question is very probably a predecessor of Dunvegan Castle, which today stands on the shore of Loch Dunvegan a mile north of the village. Partly dating back to the 1200s, the castle is the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod and is reportedly the oldest residence in Scotland continuously occupied by the same family.