Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Clan Gunn

I am a descendant of the Scottish Clan Gunn (hence the latter part of my screen name). Thought I'd share a little info about us.

Our motto is Aut pax aut bellum which means "Either Peace or War".


The Norse word gunnr means war. Living between Caithness and Sutherland, the Gunns were descended from the Norsemen, some think possibly from Olaf the Black himself, and their name foretold their destiny.

The ferocious Gunns were continually at enmity with neighbouring clans, especially the Keiths. Gunn lands were constantly being encroached upon from the North, South and West.

Helen, only daughter of Lachlan Gunn of Braemor, was celebrated for her great beauty and was due to marry her cousin Alexander. Dugald Keith, a retainer of Keith of Ackergill, had tried to woo her, been rejected, and responded jealously. On her wedding day, he paid a surprise visit to her father’s house, surrounding it with armed members of his own family, who then began slaying the unsuspecting Gunns.

Keith took Helen and imprisoned her in Ackergill. Eventually, to escape his sexual abuse, she went to the top of the tower and jumped to her death. The feud that ensued was very long and bloody, with continuing attacks upon each clan. One costly but indecisive battle was at Harpsdale, near Thurso, in 1426.

Eventually, in 1464, the war-weary chiefs of the two clans agreed to meet at the Chapel of St Tears to lay their grievances to rest. The chief of the Gunns was George. He held the important office of crowner, and wore the magnificent brooch of the post. He arrived at the chapel on horseback with eleven other riders, as agreed.

The Keiths arrived on twelve horses also, but with two men to a horse, and slaughtered the Gunns. The brooch of the crowner was taken from dead Gunn’s body. A century later, William MacKames, George’s grandson, avenged his kinsmen with the life of George Keith of Akergill, his son and twelve others in a bloodbath at Drummoy in Sutherland.

In other times the clan found themselves in conflict with the MacKays and the Earls of Caithness and Sutherland. In 1585, although outnumbered, they successfully held off a joint attack by the Earls, taking 140 enemy lives before darkness stemmed the slaughter.

The clan took a heavy defeat at Lochbroom from Sutherland but it was the Highland clearances by the Gordons which finally moved the Gunns off their long-held lands.

Dad and I went to a Scottish Festival up in MacPherson a while back. While we were waiting for Mom to come pick us up, we started going over a little family history - namely the feuding with the Keiths and Mackays. We had seen tents set up for both the other clans and wound up coming up with a little scenario in which we got a few small weapons - Dad wants an axe and I'd like a sword or two - and decided to pick up the feuding. Our imaginary adventure ended when the police decided not to pursue the perpetrators of the feud (us) due to reports of the warring ways of the clan Gunn and also the sharp weaponry. (I know, I know - we both need to get out more...) Mom, the quiet Welsh/English one, just shook her head and said "Oh my".

By the way, we tried haggis while there. It wasn't disgusting like I thought it would be but it did have a very strong taste. We each ended up buying a can. You can get the same stuff
here. It wasn't the traditional recipe (they had to follow USDA regulations) so it was made of liver, beef, onion and various other dead cow parts. Sounds appetizing, doesn't it. Not a problem for someone who grew up helping castrate and butcher sheep though. The fun part of that was that when we butchered, Grandpa would let me play "veterinarian" on the innards. The liver and stomachs are really pretty cool. But enough of that...

I've added the clan badge over yonder on the sidebar. I'm going to try to figure out how to do a background with the tartan if I can. I know just barely enough about html to get into a lot of trouble...


Anonymous said...

... cool... I'm a sept of Clan Fraser....


LadyGunn said...

Always nice to meet another Scot-of-sorts.

If you're the Eric I'm thinking of - love your site. If you're not - never mind. ;-)

Anonymous said...

.. tis I.. Eric of SWG... not sure if that's the one you were thinking of though...

LadyGunn said...

Yup - 'this you... :-)