Christina of Garmoran

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Christina of Garmoran
Born late 13th century
Died mid 14th century
Nationality Scottish
Spouse(s) Duncan
Children None
Parent(s) Ailin mac Ruaidhri, mother unknown

Christina of Garmoran also known as Christina MacRuari, Christina of Mar and Christiana of the Isles was a 14th-century Scottish noblewoman who was the legitimate child of Ailin (Alan) mac Ruaidhri, Lord of Garmoran and chief of Clan Macruari.[1][2][3] She married Duncan, second son of Domhnall I, Earl of Mar.

Family background[edit]

Clan Macruari's descent from Somerled

Christina was a direct descendant of the King of the Hebrides, Somhairle mac Gille-Brighde (better known as Somerled), through her grandfather Ruaidhri mac Raghnaill, the founder of Clan Macruari.

Her father, Ailin mac Ruaidhri, possessed the "North Isles" of the Uists and Benbecula. He is known to have attended Parliament in 1285 when the succession of Margaret, Maid of Norway was debated.[4] He had died by 1296, by which time he had fathered two illegitimate sons, Ruaidhri and Lachlan, and Christina, his sole legitimate heir. However, When Christina succeeded to the extensive estates of her father (Garmoran and the North Isles including Harris and the Small Isles of Rùm and Eigg) she resigned a large proportion of them to Ruaidhri.[3][5]

When her distant cousin Alexander of Argyll's support of the opponents of King Robert the Bruce led to the forfeiture of his lands, they were distributed between her MacDonald cousin Aonghas Óg of Islay and her brother Ruaidhri. The latter received much of Lorne and parts of Lochaber. Bruce was however careful to ensure his interests in the west were protected and Dunstaffnage Castle was given not to Ruari, now styled the "High Chief of Lorn" but to a royal constable, Arthur Campbell.[6] Campbell's son, also Arthur, received a charter of lands from Christina, at some point early in the 14th century and they may have been considering marriage although this never came to pass. The charter itself seems to have been disputed by parties on both sides for the next century.[7]

Marriage and politics[edit]

Christina did marry Duncan, second son of Domhnall I, Earl of Mar, making her the Bruce's sister-in-law twice over. (Duncan's sister Isabella of Mar married Robert the Bruce and his older brother Gartnait, Earl of Mar married Robert's sister Christina.)[8][9][Note 1] No details of Christina's birth are known, but Duncan was born in 1294, and died in 1332 and they are recorded as having a child, Margaret, Countess of Mar, who married William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas and died in 1390.[10]

Christina is credited with being instrumental in supporting Robert the Bruce ascend to the Scottish throne. John of Fordun records her as "Christian of the Isles" and stated that "it was by her help and power and goodwill that Bruce was able to return to Carrick".[3] Barbour wrote that: "A lady of that country [Carrick], who was his near kinswoman, was wondrous glad at his arrival and made haste to join him, bringing fifteen men whom she gave the king to help him in his warfare."[8] It is also possible that she and Aonghas Óg of Islay provided assistance to Bruce whilst he sought refuge on Rathlin Island.[8]

Later Clan Macruari history[edit]

The MacRuaris added Barra to their lands in 1309[11] but towards the close of the Bruce's reign, c. 1325, Ruaidhri was dispossessed for engaging in plots perceived to be against his king's interests.[6]

Edward Balliol may have restored these lands to his son, Raghnall mac Ruari, a state of affairs confirmed by David II c. 1344, who formally granted him Garmoran and the North Isles, although Lorn was retained by the crown and Lochaber in its entirety given to John of islay the first Lord of the Isles who had married Amie, Christina's niece in 1337.[12] Shortly thereafter, in October 1346, Raghnall was assassinated at Elcho Nunnery near Perth as the result of a quarrel with Uilleam III, Earl of Ross. He was the "last chieftain of the MacRuaris"[13] and Amie was his sole heir.[14][15][16] Amie's son Ranald became the progenitor of Clan Macdonald of Clanranald and Clan MacDonell of Glengarry[1][17][18]

Amie also continued various works of a religious nature that her aunt had supported. Christina gifted the lands of Carinsh in North Uist to Inchaffray Abbey and Amie rebuilt the Teampull na Trionaid on this estate.[19][20]

Christina's grandson James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Douglas died leading the Scots to victory at the Battle of Otterburn.

In fiction[edit]

Christina is a character in the trilogy Robert the Bruce by Nigel Tranter in which her support of Robert Bruce is portrayed. They meet at sea when Bruce repulses an attack on her ships and they have a long association, being on- and off-again lovers for years.


  1. ^ According to Lee (1920) she married Domhnall I himself rather than his son, and thus became the grandmother of Robert II of Scotland.[21] However, this is described as erroneous by MacDonald (2008), who states that "most sources agree" that she married Duncan.


  1. ^ a b Lee (1920) p. 61
  2. ^ "The History". Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Barrow (2003) p. 347
  4. ^ Rymer (1745) p. 228. He is here referred to as Alang filius Rotherici.
  5. ^ Gregory (1881) pp. 24, 27
  6. ^ a b Gregory (1881) p. 25
  7. ^ "MacArthur". Generation Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  8. ^ a b c MacDonald (2008) p. 47
  9. ^ Barrow (2003) p. 219
  10. ^ "An Extended Family - Entries: 273404" RootsWeb. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  11. ^ Rotary Club (1995) p. 27
  12. ^ Lamont (1966) p. 25
  13. ^ Hunter (2000) p. 127
  14. ^ Gregory (1881) pp. 26-27
  15. ^ Lee (1920) p. 82
  16. ^ Oram (2005) pp. 124-26
  17. ^ Gregory (1881) pp. 30-31
  18. ^ Lee (1920) p. 50
  19. ^ Thomas, F. W. L. (December 1871) "Notices of Three Churches in North Uist, Benbecula, and Grimsay, said to have been Built in the Fourteenth Century". Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
  20. ^ Barrow (2003) p. 220
  21. ^ Lee (1920) p. 81


  • Barrow, G.W.S. (2003) The kingdom of the Scots: government, church and society from the eleventh to the fourteenth century. Edinburgh University Press.
  • Gregory, Donald (1881) The History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland 1493 - 1625. Edinburgh. Birlinn. 2008 reprint - originally published by Thomas D. Morrison. ISBN 1-904607-57-8
  • Hunter, James (2000) Last of the Free: A History of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Edinburgh. Mainstream. ISBN 1-84018-376-4
  • Lee, Henry James (1920) History of the clan Donald, the families of MacDonald, McDonald and McDonnell. (1920) New York. Polk and Company.
  • Lamont, William Dawson (1966) The Early History of Islay (500-1726). University of California.
  • MacDonald, Donald J. (2008) Clan Donald. Gretna, Louisiana. Pelican. First published 1978.
  • Oram, Richard, "The Lordship of the Isles, 1336-1545", in Donald Omand (ed.) (2005) The Argyll Book. Edinburgh. Birlinn.
  • Rymer, Thomas (1745) Foedera Conventiones, Literae et cuiuscunque generis Acta Publica inter Reges Angliae. London. (Latin)
  • Rotary Club of Stornoway (1995) The Outer Hebrides Handbook and Guide. Machynlleth. Kittiwake. ISBN 0-9511003-5-1