Concerning Gunn Coroner’s death
I’ve always had trouble accepting the stories attached to how Gunn coroner died.
1. There was meant to have been a long lasting Gunn feud with the Keiths.But the feud looks very questionable and will be a separate entry here another time…
2. The Gunns were meant to be randomly in a church in the middle of nowhere and did not hear anyone approaching – and no Gunn lookout was posted.
But it seems odd for Gunns to be randomly hanging around / in an empty church; it’s not as if a Minister was there with a congregation. And if the Gunn / Keith mythic feud was happening you would have posted a lookout if you had any intelligence, and Gunn coroner was meant to have had brains.
3. The Keiths and Gunns supposedly had a battle which the Gunns lost by trickery as the Keiths rode two men on each horse according to most accounts. Of course Gunns could never have lost in a fair battle, that’s not how Clan mythic history works…
Overall it seems likely Gunn Coroner and some of his family were attacked near the Church of St Tayre; the Coroner’s death meant the attack stopped. The Gunns may have been attacked by Keiths but that is unlikely as the Keiths could easily have removed Gunn from his Coroner’s position due to the their power at the King’s court. The death of Gunn Coroner seems more like a revenge killing by a bunch of ‘Caiths’ – people of Caithness - not Keiths. (Note how both Caiths / Keiths sound the same and that the 1450s is before spelling is fixed.)
No record of the Coroner’s appointment, death or appointment of a new Coroner appears in history texts although much else from this time is known. Did his death have any impact on the greater Caithness world? Perhaps not…
St Tears, the Coroner and more…
Gunn, coroner of Caithness 1450s
More on Gunn coroner, including information from Professor Houston’s The Coroners of Northern Britain c1300-1700 and Professor Crawford’s The Northern Earldoms Orkney and Caithness from AD 870 to 1470.
In brief –
Gunn coroner before Earl William Sinclair made it to Caithness was in a position of major, basically unchecked legal power. The lack of a local Sheriff and lack of a resident Earl allowed him ‘freedom’ to do things his way. The position Gunn coroner had – with its lack of checks - would probably have created enemies.
The story of Hugh MacDonald of Sleat visiting Gunn in a castle has credence - it just wasn’t in a ‘Gunn castle’.
I have just read R. A. Houston's book 'The Coroners of Northern Britain c. 1300-1700' He is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of St Andrews.
He makes it quite clear (page 3, for example) that the position is Coroner but he notes it is spelt in a variety of ways including Coronator and Crowner. Crowner? Yes; but it's not a two syllable 'regal' word as some like to think. It's a three syllable word with the middle syllable pronounced as row as in rowing so - K, row, ner. And that spelling is not surprising as it's all being written / printed before dictionaries set spelling in stone and with printers being of 'interesting' spelling ability...
So it's absolutely Gunn Coroner of Caithness...
Lots more to come, but that's after I re-read the book...
The idea that St Donan (died 617) had anything to do with Kildonan in Sutherland is extremely questionable.
The idea that St Donan has anything to do with Kildonan lacks credence. St Donan should be removed from the Gunn history…
For more discussion see clangunn.weebly.com/on-saint-donan--saint-donnan-and-on-kildonan-having-nothing-to-do-with-him.html
The 'Zeno narrative' shows the 'Clan' Gunn Westford Knight discovers the USA' story to be totally impossible.
The Gunn ‘Westford Knight’ fairy story was meant to have occurred in 1380 when Sir Henry Sinclair was meant to have sailed from the Orkney Islands to Nova Scotia and beyond and taken a knighted Gunn with him (whose coat of arms / shield is later found carved on a rock at Westford, Massachusetts, USA). And so a Gunn was meant to be one of the first white people to ‘discover’ northern America. There is not a grain of truce in the story.
Why is it impossible to have happened? There is only one supposed source for this Henry Sinclair story - the 'Zeno narrative' a work of fiction written in 1558 in Venice. This story includes detailed discussion of one Niccolo Zeno supposedly exploring the northern Atlantic for many years in the late 1300s - shame this Niccolo Zeno's life is fully detailed in the Venetian archives for this time period and he lived in Venice and nearby lands and never went to the northern Atlantic. A person can't be in two places at the one time to state the blindingly obvious...
I note the 'Dictionary of Canadian Biography' view that 'the Zeno affair remains one of the most preposterous and at the same time one of the most successful fabrications in the history of exploration '.
Brian Smith who is archivist at the Shetland Museum and Archives and also an Honorary Fellow at the Centre of Nordic Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands considers the 'Zeno narrative' to be an 'elaborate practical joke'. His summary of Henry Sinclair and the Zeno narrative is -
'Henry Sinclair, an earl of Orkney of the late fifteenth century, didn’t go to America. It wasn’t until 500 years after Henry’s death that anybody suggested that he did. The sixteenth century text (Zeno narrative) that eventually gave rise to all the claims about Henry and America certainly doesn’t say so. What it says, in so many words, is that someone called Zichmni, with friends, made a trip to Greenland. None of Henry Sinclair’s contemporaries or near-contemporaries ever claimed he went to America; and none of the antiquaries who wrote about him in the seventeenth century said so either, although they made other absurd claims about him. The story is a modern myth…'
So - the the original source document which is meant to show how a Gunn got to Northern America and become the ‘Westford Knight’ has no mention of Scotland, no mention of Caithness, no mention of the Orkneys, no mention of Henry Sinclair, no Gunns and no mention of North America. That’s a major problem for the ‘Clan Gunn Westford Knight’ myth.
Shame the Clan Gunn Societies give support to this hoax...
For more information see http://www.alastairhamilton.com/sinclair.htm
There are many other historical and archaeological impossibilities with the Gunn Wesford Knight myth but the total failure of the only source for the myth is the point of this entry... See clangunn.weebly.com/on-a-gunn-helping-discover-north-america---sir-james-gunn-of-clyth-crowner-of-caithness-and-the-westford-knight-myth.html
Mark Rugg Gunn’s sole ‘proof’ for the existence of ‘Chief’ Ingram Gunn is that he ‘witnessed a Charter in the time of David II (1329-1370)’.
The problem is that the Ingeram de Gynis who was the said witness was the cousin of King Alexander III of Scotland and was actually Enguerrand de Guines, later Lord of Coucy. He was witness to letters of King Alexander III c 1285 which were later mentioned in an Inspection of King David II in 1369.
This ‘Enguerrand de Guines, went to Scotland to make his fortune under his cousin, Alexander III. The king arranged his marriage to Christiana de Lindsay, daughter of William de Lindsay of Lamberton and a niece of John de Bailleul (future King of Scots). She was the heiress to the Barony of Durisdeer and Enoch in Galloway and held lands in southern Scotland and in England at Kendal in Westmoreland. Their marriage and his kinship to the king catapulted his career and included him in the core of the Scottish court… ’ (Page 196, M. A. Pollock, Scotland, England and France after the loss of Normandy 1204-1296; ‘Auld Amitie’)
It makes sense – a King would have witnesses from amongst his family or well-known courtiers, not a random unknown person from the Highlands of Scotland. With Enguerrand de Guines he had a witness who was both family and a well known member of his court.
'Chief' Ingram Gunn never existed. For the equally never existed 'Clan Gunn' knighted chiefs see clangunn.weebly.com/on-the-non-existent-gunn-lsquochiefsrsquo-between-the-orkneys-and-before-gunn-coroner-for-orkney-gunns-see-the-next-column.html
Mark Rugg Gunn's quasi-official 'Clan Gunn' book page 35 points to a further amazing problem with the non-existent 'Clan' Gunn Chief line and the non-existent 'Clan Gunn' Orkney Islands / Viking origin.
He says of the 'Chiefs' between Ottar and the Coroner that 'we know nothing of any of them except... Ingram Gunn'. That's right, a book which accepts the romantic twaddle line of 'Clan Gunn' history can find no information - no stories, no hard evidence - to support the supposed Chief line. And the one Ingram Gunn 'fact' is easily disposed of which I will do in another entry.
So (going back to earlier entries) we have a major academic saying there is not the slightest evidence for the supposed Chief Snaekoll 'Gunn' returning to Scotland from exile in disgrace in Norway, the supposed Chief Ottar Snaekollsson has been clearly shown to not be a descendant of Snaekoll 'Gunn' and in fact he has nothing to do with any Gunn, and now we have the well-known, romantically inclined history of the 'Clan' Gunn admitting there is no evidence to support the random list of Gunn Chiefs dreamt up in the mid 1800s.
And yet the Clan Gunn Societies continue to push the line of Orkney Islands descent and that 'Clan Gunn Chiefs' were meant to exist in this period...
Chief Ottar Snaekolsson Gunn never existed
Mark Rugg Gunn in his Gunn history pages 31-32 gives detail of an Ottar Snaekolsson who went to Bergen in Norway to visit the King ‘concerning their needs’; by implication it is meant to prove that ‘Chief’ Snaekoll Gunnison married and had children. It does no such thing. Why? For many reasons but the simplest is -
1) We know when ‘Chief’ Snaekoll Gunnison was born – around the year 1200 - as his mother’s first husband Litolf Baldpate died at the battle of Clairdon in 1198.
2) Mark Rugg Gunn does not mention a date for the visit to Norway by Ottar Snaekolsson. Oops.
3) The visit to Norway happened in 1224 and there are many references for this date. For example one of these references says ‘1224, Hakon’s Saga relates how, while King Hakon was in Bergen, Gilliecrist and Ottar, Snaekoll’s son, and many Hebrideans, came to meet him there from west beyond the sea; and they had many letters concerning the needs of their lands’ Page 88, R. Andrew McDonald, The Kingdom of the Isles Scotland’s Western Seaboard c. 1100 – c. 1336
So the only offered ‘proof’ for the existence of Ottar Snaekolsson (Gunn) fails at the first test as no-one would be sending an approximately four year old over the seas to Norway to discuss state matters with a King (and without his parents) and about four is all Ottar Snaekolsson (Gunn) could have been. And the ship which went to Bergen was a ship from the Hebrides – and an Ottar Snaekolsson is a well known Sudreyan Chief in Western Scotland in the 1220s . So, would one be sending a significant Chief to discuss matters with the Norwegian King or would one send an unaccompanied four year old?
Yet another Clan Gunn Orkney islands / Viking origin ‘fact’ fails the history test… And another ‘Clan Gunn chief’ never existed…
And note earlier entries showing Snaekoll Gunnison never married and never returned after exile in disgrace in Norway... Gunns have no Orkney Islands / Viking origin...
Interested to read that the Clan Gunn Society of Nova Scotia is closing down because of a lack of members.
Not surprising really; genealogical links to your own family can be easily explored on the internet, one certainly does not need a Society for such research.
That leaves a 'Clan' Gunn Society to do what? Pretend fictional history is real history, such as with the 'Clan' Gunn non-links to an Orkney Island / Viking origin? Or pretend the the non-existing Clan Gunn Westford Knight absurd story is true? Or to dress up in 'Gunn' tartan invented in the early 1800s for the tourist trade? You get the idea...
As well, Scottish Gunns are by origin a non-kindred group of people from the Highlands. Just because we share the same surname we do not necessarily share any ancestor so we have no automatic DNA link with other random people with the name Gunn who one would regularly meet in Clan Gunn Society events. People on one's actual Family Tree are, of course, different...
'Clan Gunn' have no Orkney Islands / Viking origin
I know I have said this before but as too many people like to ignore academic facts and prefer to believe myths are history I am saying it again...
The key person here is Snaekollr Gunnison – son of the anonymous supposed first Gunn and from whom the supposed Gunn Chiefs were meant to descend.
Snaekollr existed and his life is fully dealt with in the ‘Orkneyinga Saga’ including his murder of the King of Norway’s Earl / Jarl for which he is forced to go to Norway in disgrace. Where Snaekollr lived and with whom in the Orkneys is described in detail in the Saga – and there is no mention of marriage / wife / children at all and there would be if such were around as Snaekollr was important – and notorious. So if you want to say he was married before he was dragged off to Norway then you have to go against centuries of academically supported history and deny the ‘Orkneyinga Saga’ as the key text in Orkney history.
Then you need to consider Professor Barbara Crawford’s view - that 'Snaekollr Gunnison … went to Bergen (Norway) in 1232 … (but never seems to have come home again)'. Professor Crawford also made this point even more strongly in 1971 - 'Despite his part in the murder of the earl Snaekoll was not condemned to death at the trial in Bergen but "remained long with earl Skuli and King Hacon" and there is no evidence that he ever returned to Orkney or Caithness (she then footnotes and the footnote reads ‘Despite the claims of Clan Gunn to be descended from him …’.
Now Professor Crawford’s academic credentials are beyond dispute - ‘Dr Barbara Crawford M.A., Ph.D., F.R.S.E., F.S.A., F.S.A. Scot., Member of the Norwegian Academy … Honorary Reader in History at the University of St. Andrews … Dr. Crawford is a Member of the Norwegian Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She was a Commissioner of the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland from 1991-2001, chaired The Treasure Trove Advisory Panel for Scotland from 1993-2001, and was President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland from 2008-2011. She was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to history and archaeology, and has recently been awarded an Honorary Professorship at the University of the Highlands and Islands….’ From https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/history/staff/barbaracrawford.html accessed 14 March 2016.
So if you believe Snaekollr Gunnison managed to make it back to Scotland after his exile in disgrace in Norway (and don’t forget he also joined a rebellion against the Norwegian King – and lost) you have to explain how one of the key academics in the area does not agree with you.
Believing in Gunn descent from Snaekollr Gunnison is like supporting a flat earth theory or believing that Elvis is alive or that pigs fly… but in this world of alternative facts (lies) some people believe their absurd dreams to be true…
Snaekollr Gunnison died in Norway; get used to it. Gunns have no Orkney islands / Viking origin.
I will deal with Snaekoll’s supposed son in the next entry…
 Page 8, B. E. Crawford 'Medieval Strathnaver' in ed. John R. Baldwin The Province of Strathanaver, 2000, The Scottish Society For Northern Studies.
 http://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/handle/10023/2723 accessed 14 March 2016; page 8 of her thesis.