There are more than 200 archaeological sites recorded at Kintail and West Affric, including 2 Scheduled Monuments: the site of the Battle of Glen Shiel fought on 10 June 1719, and the Cill Fhearchair standing stone and burial ground, close to Shielbridge. The stone is thought to be up to 2,000 years old.

Kintail is the ancestral land of the Clans MacRae and MacLennan; Affric the land of Clan Chisholm. The battle cry of the Clan MacRae was ‘Sgurr Uaran’, after the central and highest peak of the Five Sisters of Kintail. MacRae remains the most common surname in the community living at Kintail today, and cattle and sheep continue to be grazed here as part of the crofting system.

The area has a long human history, with the first permanent settlement occurring more than 4,000 years ago. The glens were well populated throughout the days of the clans (ending in the late 18th century), with fertile Glen Shiel in particular supporting several small townships.

Kintail was famous for the quality of its grazing and was known as Cinn Tàile nam bò (‘Kintail of the cows’). One of the first Gaelic songs in the New World is credited to Iain MacMhurchaidh (John MacRae), an emigrant from Kintail. It was written in North Carolina in the 18th century and includes the lines:

Thoir mo shoraidh le fàilte Cinn Tàile nam bò
Far an d'fhuair mi greis m' àrach 's mi am phàiste beag òg

‘Bear my farewell and greetings to Kintail of the cows
Where I was brought up through my childhood when I was young’