Recently I've learned that my last name, Gaskill, is directly related (or sept) to the Scottish MacAskill. This is interesting because I've known my mother's background, which goes back generations (thanks to German documents), but have known nothing about my father's side other than we come from somewhere in the British Isles.
I've found data on the MacAskills on several web sites, to include the following: electronicscotland.com, houseofnames.com, maccaskill.com, and one or two other sites.
Basically it boils down to we were an important family under clan MacLeod (pronounced "Mac-Loud"), trusted as constables of Dunscaith castle, commodores on MacLeod ships, coast-watchers, and armed bodyguards for the clan chiefs. We hail from the Isle of Skye, which is west of the Western Highlands, a beautiful and rugged island.
During at least one battle, when the MacDonalds invaded MacLeod lands, the MacAskills captured the MacDonald ships and prevented their escape, causing them to be completely slaughtered. Years later during the Battle of Glendale, a MacAskill killed and cut off the head of one of the MacDonald leaders, then raised it on a spear. That MacAskill and three of his brothers were later cut down when Allan of Noidart (another MacDonald leader) fought his way back to his galleys. For this later action, the MacAskills were awarded the honor of having a warrior carved on their tombs.
There is some contradictory information, such as the name originating with Thaisgaill the Viking (circa 1100). Another source says the name originates with Asketil, son of Torquil, the last Viking King of Dublin, Ireland, who died in 1171 or 1172 while resisting the English invaders under Henry II.
At this point, my next step is to find a direct link to this proud line. I'm going to write my aunt Bea, who has done some Genealogy on my grandfather already, then continue on my own.