Gaelic Society – an Overview begins:
What were Gaelic society and culture like at the height of their influence in Scotland?
When the Act called the Statutes of Iona was passed in 1609, the high point of Gaelic society and culture was coming to an end. This act prohibited many things normal to Gaelic culture. In particular, the traveling of vagabonds. This was the name given by the Government to the Bards and Musicians who traveled freely between Ireland and Scotland, from one great house to another, praising the Chiefs who were the very substance of Gaelic society.
The act also prohibited the bearing of arms, and drunken revelry. The Statutes also stated that the chief’s oldest son should be educated in the Lowlands. This was most insidious, as it meant that the future Chiefs would be alien to their own culture, they would learn a different language, different ways, and different values.
Before this act was passed, Gaelic society and culture had been at its highest point for the last four hundred years. During the time of the high culture, the Lordship of the Isles, a principality in the Western Highlands and Islands, provided a secure Gaelic principality for the flourishing of that culture.
I disagree on one point: I would put the end of the golden age at 1493, when the.Lordship of the Isles was suppressed by King James IV. Otherwise this article nicely summarizes the old high civilization of the Scottish Highlands, which is centuries older than anything there resembling a kilt.