The name `MacKenzie', or MacCoinneach in Gaelic, means literally `Son of Kenneth'. The original Kenneth lived in the 13th Century and was descended from a younger son of Gilleoin of the Aird, from whom can also be traced the once powerful Earls of Ross.
Clan MacKenzie rose rapidly in importance during the 15th Century through acquisition of lands across Scotland from west to east, but in particular the counties of Ross and Cromarty as well as part of Sutherland(shire). Kenneth, the 12th Chief of the Clan was given the title of Lord MacKenzie of Kintail in 1609. His brother Sir Roderick, the Tutor of Kintail, became the progenitor of the present Chief, the 5th Earl of Cromartie. Colin, son of Kenneth, became the Earl of Seaforth in 1623,
As well as Castle Leod, the home of the Chief of Clan MacKenzie (the Earl of Cromartie), the Castle of Eilean Donan was Clan MacKenzie's most important stronghold from the 13th Century until it was destroyed in 1719. The reconstructed Castle of Eilean Donan is an important tourist attraction today in Scotland.