Clan Mottos

Many people who come to Culloden are interested in their own family history and the ties they may have with Scottish culture. One of the most popular questions we get asked is for information about clans and visitors own family connections to their clan heritage.

One area of interest is the mottos of clans. Every clan has their own motto and whilst some have simple or clear meanings, others can be more complicated, and some have great stories connected to them. Today we thought we’d pick a few of our favourite clan mottos and stories to share with you.

 

gill
MacGillivray Clan Motto

 

Firstly, the motto of Clan MacGillivray which is ‘Touch not this cat’. The MacGillivray motto has existed for some 300 years or more and in its full version is ‘Touch not the cat bot a glove.’ Often people can mistake this as meaning ‘don’t touch the cat unless you are wearing a glove’, however, the true interpretation is ‘touch not the cat without a glove’. A cat is said to be without a glove when its claws are extended. Therefore the motto is a warning to others not to tackle a MacGillivray when their claws are showing.

fraser4
Fraser Clan Motto

One of the most famous mottos now is that of the Fraser of Lovat clan, which is ‘Je suis prest’, or ‘I am ready’ in English, and is well known thanks to the popularity of Outlander. The motto is in French as the clan originates from France. Indeed some believe the name Fraser stems from the French word ‘Fraisier’ meaning strawberry which incidentally is the clans plant badge.

brodie4
Brodie Clan Motto

 

For a good story regarding mottos it is nice to look at Clan Brodie. The Brodie clan, whose home, Brodie Castle, is just down the road from Culloden, has the simple motto ‘Unite’ which is nice and easy to understand. When you visit the castle you can enter the dining room with its gorgeous plaster work ceiling and see the elegant dining set. Each piece of the set has the clan motto delicately portrayed in its centre right underneath the coat of arms. Unfortunately though on two of the pieces the word has been misspelled and instead of ‘unite’ the pieces read ‘untie’. An unfortunate mistake to make. With just two letters the creators have completely altered the meaning of the ancient clans motto. Now of course it serves as an excellent story for the tour guides!

brodie2
One of the gorgeous pieces from Brodies dining set

These are only a few example of clan mottos but each clan has its own and during fighting these may have been yelled out by the fighting soldiers to strike fear into the opposition and rally the clans to join together to fight.

We hope you enjoyed this very short look at mottos and as always please like, share, tweet, comment and let us know of any stories you’d like to know more about.

All the best, K & D

 

Advertisements

A Little Bit About Outlander

This year we have been amazed by the amount of people coming to Scotland after reading or watching ‘Outlander’ the fictional series of books written by Diana Gabaldon. We usually get a few people who’ve read the series and what to know more but this year with the launch of the TV show things have grown so much it’s sometimes tricky to keep up.

untitled

For those who aren’t in the know the series follows Claire Beauchamp as she falls back through time through a set of standing stones from the 1940’s ending up in 1743. Here she meets Jamie Fraser and has to find her way in 18th Century Scotland. The stories cover the history leading up to and beyond Culloden and have been read by millions worldwide.

So, with that in mind we thought we’d share a bit of our Outlander story. When we found out that Outlander was being made into a TV series we were a bit dubious about how well Scotland and the 18th Century would be portrayed. Luckily we were soon reassured as people came to Culloden to scout the location and make sure everything was accurate. Filming took place at a number of National Trust for Scotland properties so there was lots of excitement on how the final product would appear.

In January we managed to get hold of the first half of series one and in preparation for the new year ahead a few of us sat down to watch. Unfortunately, the some of us included two male learning officers who were, shall we say, reluctant to participate. Watching the shows with two men pointing out every historical inaccuracy made the experience unique to say the least but we all had to admit by the end that they’d done a pretty good job in bringing the stories to life.

Since then we’ve tried to become Outlander experts and guide people to interesting spots on their journey around Scotland. Obviously lots of people come to us her at Culloden. As such a big part of the second book and series people are drawn to our bleak field and many cant help but stop at the Fraser stone on the field which these days usually has a flower or two at its side. However, it’s also nice to know a few other places where visitors can go and explore more about the series.

untitled
The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

The mystical stones of Craigh na Dun in the books, where Claire falls back through time, are just five minutes from the battlefield. Gabaldon based the stone on the site of Clava Cairns an ancient burial ground with chambered cairns surrounded by standing stones. There is even one that has a cleft running down the centre and is supposedly the stone through which Claire falls through time. Granted they may not look the same as the TV series but when you visit the site there is a calm atmosphere that lends itself to the imagination.

untitled
Cleft stone at Clava Cairns

Inverness plays a part in the series as well. But the 1940’s Inverness of the books doesn’t look quite the same as the modern day city. For the backdrop to those scenes you’ll need to head to Falkland in Fife where you can see the Bruce Fountain in the town square as well as the guesthouse and shops from the very first Outlander episode.

Picture1
Falkland Square aka 1940’s Inverness

For a feel of the 18th Century though we recommend heading to the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore where they have 18th Century crafting houses that formed the Mackenzie village the highlanders travel to whilst collecting rent. As you walk around you will able to spot plenty of sites where filming took place.

untitled
The Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore

For more filming locations check out Culross in Fife which doubled as the home town for Geillis Duncan, Preston Mill whose backdrop viewers will certainly recognise from scenes in the 1940’s and if you want to be taken back to the woods of old head to Tulloch Ghru in the Cairngorms.

Picture2
Preston Mill

Of course there is also Doune Castle which stand in for Castle Leoch in the TV series. However, the true seat of Clan Mackenzie is Castle Leod which is found in the Highlands near Strathpeffer. It was here that Diana Gabaldon, who became a guardian of the castle, planted a rowan tree and is now backing a campaign to help save the castle.

p1000233
Castle Leod near Strathpeffer

If you’re a fan of Outlander there’s plenty to see and do but the best thing for us is meeting everyone who has read the books or seen the show and been inspired to come and learn the true history and investigate their own Scottish ancestry. So, if you do come to Scotland be sure to come and say hello to us and we’ll help you find your clan, tell you about some real Jacobites and hopefully inspire you even more.

Oh, and just before I forget, we’ve also got some Outlander inspired merchandise in the shop, including the Outlander ring which is based on Jamie and Claires wedding ring and of course all of the books.

outlander
The Outlander Ring

Hope you enjoyed the post please like, share, tweet, comment and if you haven’t yet maybe pick up a copy of Outlander and see what all the fuss is about.

All the best K & D