The Heimurinn Chronicles
Customs and Laws
The laws of a clan is decided by a majority vote. The Chief calls together the clan at a Comdhail, or gathering. The Comdhail occurs annually, usually around the Summer Solstice. Here the laws of the clan are discussed. The Comdhail is similar to the Skaldic ‘Thing’, except that women were not allowed to vote. The games usually occur immediately after the Comdhail
Criminal Trials are usually brought before the local chieftain often over seen by a council of druids. The druids would hear everyone’s story before deciding the verdict. Punishment in the Highlands is usually dolled out depending on the offense. A serious crime, such as murder or rape usually is death or exile. Though a minor offense is usually paying a fine or a whipping. Crimes among the clans were rare, and usually never came to trial, as they were often settled via duels to first blood. “Highland Justice” is much simpler than the complex Skaldic Court System.
If a clansman was exiled, they were forced from Clan lands. If they made an appearance on clan lands, they could be killed on the spot.
A common custom of the Caer’Duine was that of Fosterage. A chiefs son, for example, would live with foster-parents in the same glen and would be raised as a child of the foster-parents. The child of a clansman, might be fostered with the chiefs family. It did not involve just the chiefs and chieftains, it involved everyone. The purpose of this practice is simple. It gave a sense of unity, of belonging to one great family, and it bound the clan together just as much, perhaps more than their belief of a common ancestor. Each Highland boy had not only his own parents and his own siblings, but his foster-parents and his foster-siblings. This custom was remarkably efficacious.
Fosterage away from the clan group was rare but not unheard of. Chiefs would use it as a way to forge friendships and alliances with neighbors.
The most important events that effected the welfare of the clan was births. If the child was male, it would add to the fighting strength of the clan. Births had to cancel out, or preferably exceed deaths.
Because marriage was primarily to produce children, the custom of hand-fasting arose. The most common practice of hand-fasting, is when a young man and young woman wanted to marry, they had to gain the approval of their elders. Once it was agreed the man and woman were to live together for a year and a day. If, at the end of that time the woman was pregnant, they were regarded as wholly and legally married. If not, they had the choice of staying married or separating and trying again with someone else. If during the year and a day, the bond of love had blossomed, the would choose to remain together anyway. The clan could not prevent this.
The Law of Hospitality
If any person was admitted into a Highlander’s home and sought and offered protection, he was in violate. This is similar to the Skaldic Custom of Hospitality. Though a Highlander was not obliged to provide food, warmth and clothes, it was usually offered out of politeness.