Clan badge

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A Victorian era, romantic depiction of a Highlander, clothed in a belted plaid, by R. R. McIan. The Highlander depicted is a MacLennan, who is wearing a sprig of furze as his clan badge.

A clan badge, sometimes called a plant badge, is a badge or emblem, usually a sprig of a specific plant, that is used to identify a member of a particular Scottish clan.[1] They are usually worn in a bonnet[2] behind the Scottish crest badge,[3] or attached at the shoulder of a lady's tartan sash. According to popular lore clan badges were used by Scottish clans as a means of identification in battle. An authentic example of plants being used in this way (though not by a clan) were the sprigs of oats used by troops under the command of Montrose during the sack of Aberdeen. Similar items are known to have been used by military forces in Scotland, like paper, or the "White Cockade" (a bunch of white ribbon) of the Jacobites.[4]

Authenticity[edit]

Despite popular lore, many clan badges attributed to Scottish clans would be completely impractical for use as a means of identification. Many would be unsuitable, even for a modern clan gathering, let alone a raging clan battle. Also, a number of the plants (and flowers) attributed as clan badges are only available during certain times of year. Even though it is maintained that clan badges were used long before the Scottish crest badges used today, according to a former Lord Lyon King of Arms the oldest symbols used at gatherings were heraldic flags such as the banner, standard and pinsel.[5]

There is much confusion as to why some clans have been attributed more than one clan badge. Several 19th century writers variously attributed plants to clans, many times contradicting each other. It has been claimed by one writer that if a clan gained new lands it may have also acquired that district's "badge" and used it along with their own clan badge. It is clear however, that there are several large groups of clans which share badges and also share a historical connection. The Clan Donald group (clans Macdonald, Macdonald of Clanranald, Macdonell of Glengarry, MacDonald of Keppoch) and clans/septs which have been associated with Clan Donald (like certain MacIntyres and the Macqueens of Skye) all have common heath attributed as their badge. Another large group is the Clan Chattan group (clans Mackintosh, Macpherson, Macgillivray, Macqueen, Macbain, Farquharson, Davidson) which have been attributed red whortleberry (sometimes called cranberry in Scotland), or bearberry, or boxwood. The leaves of these three plants are very similar, and at least one writer has claimed that whatever plant which happened to be available was used. One group, the Siol Alpin group, of clans are said to have claimed or are thought to share a common descent. The Siol Alpin clans (clans Grant, Gregor, MacAulay, Macfie, Macnab, Mackinnon, Macquarrie) are all attributed the clan badge of pine (Scots fir). In some cases, clan badges are derived from the heraldry of clan chiefs. For example, the Farquharsons have pine attributed as a clan badge of theirs (pine also appears on the uniforms of the Invercauld Highlanders). Pine was actually used in the Invercauld Arms as a mark of cadencing to the basic Shaw-Mackintosh Arms.[5]

Plants used as badges[edit]

Calluna vulgaris[citation needed] or Common Heather. Clan badge of the clans of Clan Donald.
Scots Pine has been attributed at some point to all the clans of Siol Alpin.
Oak, attributed to the Buchanans, Camerons, Kennedys, Macfies, Stewarts, and Woods.
Crowberry, attributed to the Camerons, Macfies, and Macleans.
Cranberry has been attributed to the MacAulays and Macfarlanes. Both clans were centred in western Dumbartonshire. The Macfarlanes claim descent from the original Earls of Lennox. While no conclusive link exists for the MacAulays their descent from the same earls has been theorised.
Furze (also known as Gorse) has been attributed to the Logans, MacLennans, and Sinclairs. The Logans and MacLennans have been associated with each other by several 19th century writers, notably James Logan (note both clans also share the same tartan).
Broom, attributed to the Forbes, Homes, Mathesons, and Murrays.
Juniper, attributed to the Gunn, Macleods, Murrays, Nicolsons, and Rosses.
Boxwood, attributed to the Davidsons, Macbains, MacDuffs, Macgillivrays, Macqueens.
Holly, attributed to the Drummonds, MacInneses, MacMillans, Mathesons.
Bell Heather, attributed to the MacDougalls.
Lesser periwinkle, attributed to the Maclachlans.
Clan name Clan badge attributed to the clan Notes
Abercromby
Adam
Agnew
Anderson
Anstruther
Arbuthnott
Armstrong
Arthur wild myrtle[6]
fir club moss[6]
Auchinleck
Baillie
Baird
Balfour
Bannatyne
Bannerman
Barclay
Baxter
Bell
Bethune
Beveridge
Bisset
Blair
Borthwick
Boswell
Boyd
Boyle
Brodie periwinkle[5]
Broun
Bruce rosemary[5]
Buchan
Buchanan billberry (blaeberry)[5]
oak[5]
birch[5]
Calder
Cameron crowberry[5]
oak[5]
Campbell fir club moss[5]
wild myrtle (or bog myrtle)[4][5] Though abundant in Argyll, Bog Myrtle drops its leaves in winter.[4]
Campbell of Breadalbane
Campbell of Cawdor
Campbell of Cawdor
Carmichael
Carnegie
Cathcart
Chalmers
Charteris
Chattan wild whortleberry[5]
Chisholm fern[5]
Clelland
Cochrane
Cockburn
Colquhoun hazel[5]
dogberry[7]
Colville
Craig
Cranstoun
Crawford boxwood
Crichton
Cumming common sallow; i.e., the pussy willow[8]
Cunningham
Dalrymple
Dalziel
Darroch
Davidson boxwood[5]
red whortleberry[5]
Dennistoun
Dewar
Donnachaidh bracken,[5] or fern[7] The Celtic Magazine of 1884 states that this badge (fern), compared to fine leaved heath, is the older badge.[7]
fine leaved heath[7]
Douglas
Drummond holly[5]
Wild thyme[7]
Dunbar
Dundas
Dunlop
Durie
Eliott
Elphinstone
Erskine
Falconer
Farquharson Scots fir[5]
red whortleberry[5]
foxglove[6]
Fergusson little sunflower[6]
Fleming
Fletcher
Forbes broom[5]
Forrester
Forsyth
Fraser yew[5]
Fraser of Lovat
Fullarton
Galbraith
Garden
Gayre
Gibsone
Gladstains
Glas
Glen
Gordon ivy[5]
Graham Laurel Originally the badge was Spurge Laurel, but as that plant is poisonous and not indigenous to Scotland, James, 8th Duke of Montrose petitioned the Lord Lyon to have the True Laurel (Laurus Nobilis) recognised as the clan plant badge, which petition he was granted.[9]
Grant pine (Scots fir)[5]
Gray
Gregor pine (Scots fir)[5]
Grierson
Gunn juniper[5]
roseroot[6]
Guthrie
Haig
Haldane
Hamilton
Hannay periwinkle[10][not in citation given]
Hay mistletoe[5]
Henderson cotton grass[5]
Hepburn
Hog
Home broom[5]
Hope
Horsburgh
Houston
Inglis
Hunter
Innes great bulrush[5]
Irvine
Jardine apple blossom[5]
Johnstone red hawthorn[5]
Keith
Kennedy oak[5]
Kerr
Kincaid
Kinnaird
Kinnear
Kinninmont
Kirkpatrick
Lamont crab-apple tree[5]
trefoil[7]
dryas[6]
Learmonth
Leask
Lennox
Leslie
Lindsay
Little
Lockhart
Logan furze[5]
Lumsden
Lyle
Lyon
MacAlister common heath[5]
MacAulay pine (Scots fir)[5]
cranberry[5]
MacBain boxwood[5]
red whortleberry[5]
Macbrayne
MacDonald common heath (Scots heather)[5]
Macdonald of Clanranald common heath[5]
MacDonald of Keppoch common heath[5]
white heather[5]
Macdonald of Sleat
MacDonell of Glengarry common heath[5]
MacDougall bell heather[5]
cypress[11]
Macdowall
MacDuff boxwood[5]
red whortleberry[5]
MacEwen
Macfarlane cranberry[5]
cloudberry[5]
Macfie pine (Scots fir)[5]
oak[5]
crowberry[5]
MacGillivray boxwood[5]
red whortleberry[5]
MacInnes holly[5]
MacIntyre common heath[5]
MacIver
Mackay great bulrush[5]
broom[6]
Mackenzie variegated holly[5]
deer's grass (heath club rush)[5] Innes of Learney claimed that heath club rush ('deer's grass') may be confused with club moss ('staghorn moss'). Club moss has also been attributed to the Macraes, who were the Mackenzie's "shirt of mail". Even if it is a confusion both 'deer's grass' and 'staghorn moss' likely refer to caberfeidh ("deer's antlers") in the Mackenzie chiefly arms.[5]
Mackie
Mackinnon pine (Scots Fir)[5]
St John's wort (St. Columba's flower)[5]
Mackintosh red whortleberry[5]
bearberry[5]
boxwood[7]
Maclachlan rowan (mountain ash)[5][12]
lesser periwinkle[12]
Maclaine of Lochbuie bilberry (blaeberry)[5]
bramble[5]
holly[6]
black berry heath[6]
MacLaren laurel[5]
MacLea The Flower of the Grass of Parnassus.[13]
Maclean crowberry[5]
holly[7]
MacLellan
MacLennan furze[5]
MacLeod juniper[5]
Macleod of the Lewes red whortleberry[5]
MacMillan holly[5]
Macnab stone bramble[5]
common heath[7]
Macnaghten trailing azalea[5]
MacNeacail
MacNeil Dryas (avens)[5]
trefoil[7] This clan badge may actually be attributed to the McNeills of Gigha, a branch of Clan MacNeil. Trefoil has also been atrributed to the Lamonts, another clan in Argyl. The Lamonts and MacNeils/McNeills both claim descent from the same O'Neill who settled in Scotland in the Middle Ages.
Macpherson white heather[5]
boxwood[7]
red whortleberry[7]
Macquarrie pine (Scots fir)[5]
Macqueen boxwood[5]
red whortleberry[5]
Macrae club moss[5] Club moss sometimes referred to as staghorn grass, may refer to the Mackenzie chiefly arms, or at least the Macrae's close association with the Mackenzies.[5]
MacTavish
MacThomas
Maitland
Makgill
Malcolm (MacCallum) rowan berries[5]
Mar
Marjoribanks
Matheson broom[5]
holly[5]
Maxwell
McCorquodale
McCulloch
Melville
Menzies menzie's heath[5]
ash[11]
Mercer
Middleton
Moffat
Moncreiffe oak[14] Oak-leaves appear on a stone carving of the 12th laird's heraldic mantling of 1634.[14]
Montgomery
Morrison driftwood[5]
Mow
Muir
Munro common club moss[5]
Murray butcher's broom[5]
juniper[5]
Murray of Atholl
Nairn
Napier
Nesbitt
Newlands
Newton
Nicolson juniper[5]
Ogilvy whitethorn,[5] hawthorn[6]
evergreen alkanet[7]
Oliphant bull rush[7]
Paisley
Paterson
Pennycook
Pitcairn
Pollock
Porterfield
Preston
Primrose
Pringle
Purves
Ramsay blue harebell[15]
Rattray
Riddell
Robertson see Donnachaidh
Rollo
Rose wild rosemary[5]
Ross juniper[5]
bearberry[5] The 19th century historian W. F. Skene listed this clan's badge as uva ursi, which is sometimes known as bearberry.[16]
Rutherford
Ruthven
Sandilands
Scrymgeour
Sempill
Seton yew[5]
Scott blaeberry[11]
Shaw of Tordarroch
Sinclair furze (whin)[5]
white clover[5]
Skene
Somerville
Spalding
Spens
Stewart oak[5] Thistle
Stewart of Appin
Stirling
Strachan
Straiton
Strange
Stuart of Bute
Sutherland butcher's broom,[11] cotton sedge[5]
Swinton
Tailyour
Trotter
Turnbull
Tweedie
Urquhart wallflower,[5] gillyflower[6]
Walkinshaw
Wallace oak
Wardlaw
Watson
Wedderburn
Weir
Wemyss
Whitelaw
Wishart
Wood Oak[17] The oak is featured prominently on the shields of all the Woods' coats of arms.[17]
Young yew

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Highland Heritage: Scottish Americans in the American South; p.39; By Celeste Ray; Published 2001 UNC Press; ISBN 0-8078-4913-8; see
  2. ^ Antiquity; p.42; By Nederlands Instituut te Rome; Published 1949 Antiquity Publications; see
  3. ^ The Clans, Septs, and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands; p.544; By Frank Adam, Thomas Innes of Learney; Published (1965) Johnston & Bacon
  4. ^ a b c Campbell of Airds (2002), pp. 289–290.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx Adam; Innes of Learney (1970), pp. 541–543.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k The Scottish Clans And Their Tartans: With Notes, p. 9.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Mackenzie (1884), p. 536.
  8. ^ Anderson, William. The Scottish Nation; or, Surnames, Families, Literature, Honours, and Biographical History of the People of Scotland. Vol. 1 (Edinburgh and London: A. Fullarton & Co., 1877), 739. "The assumption of the badge of the cumin plant for the supposed clan, a plant that is only found in the region of Egypt, but which happens to be named in the Old Testament, is scarcely correct. It is rather the common sallow, a species of willow, that the Cummings have adopted as their clan badge."
  9. ^ "Clan Graham Plant Badges". Clan Graham Society of America. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  10. ^ The Clan Hannay Society
  11. ^ a b c d The Scottish Clans and their Tartans (1958), W. and A. K. Johnston
  12. ^ a b "Clan MacLachlan Plant Badges". Clan MacLachlan Association of North America, Inc. (cmana.net). Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  13. ^ http://www.clanmclea.co.uk/Warrant.htm Retrieved on May 12, 2009
  14. ^ a b Moncreiffe of that Ilk (1967), p. 20.
  15. ^ "CLAN RAMSAY PLANT BADGE". Clan Ramsay Association of North America Official Web Site (clanramsay.org). Retrieved 2008-07-07. [dead link]
  16. ^ Skene; MacBain (ed.) (1902), p. 325.
  17. ^ a b http://www.clan-wood.org.uk/history.html Retrieved on December 8, 2012

Bibliography[edit]

  • The Scottish Clans And Their Tartans: With Notes (Library Edition ed.). Edinburgh: W. & A. K. Johnston. 
  • Adam, Frank; Innes of Learney, Thomas (1970). The Clans, Septs & Regiments of the Scottish Highlands (8th edition ed.). Edinburgh: Johnston and Bacon. 
  • Anderson, William (1862). The Scottish Nation; Or The Surnames, Families, Literature, Honours, And Biographical History Of The People Of Scotland 1. Edinburgh: A. Fullarton & Co. 
  • Campbell of Airds, Alastair (2002). A History of Clan Campbell: Volume 2: From Flodden to the Restoration. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 1-902930-18-5. 
  • Mackenzie, Alexander (ed.) (1884). The Celtic Magazine; a monthly periodical devoted to the literature, history, antiquities, folk lore, traditions, and the social and material interests of the Celt at home and abroad 9. Inverness: A. & W. Mackenzie. 
  • Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Iain. The Highland Clans. London: Barrie & Rockliff, 1967.
  • Skene, William Forbes (1902). MacBain, Alexander (ed.), ed. The Highlanders of Scotland. Stirling, Scotland: E. Mackay.