Clan Gunn tartan and the 'Vestiarium Scoticum'
In Mark Rugg Gunn's history on page 152 he writes -
In 1842 a book called Vestiarium Scoticum' was published.... The authenticity of this work has been much disputed, and in the main it appears to be a mixture of truth and imagination.... However, whatever the true value of the work may be it illustrates 75 tartans amongst which is that of the Clan Gunn...'
But let's consider modern views of that text -
D. C. Stewart would later go on to author, with J. C. Thompson, Scotland's Forged Tartans, published in 1980. This book is a critical examination of the Vestiarium Scoticum and the historical claims of the Stuart brothers. The undeniable conclusion of the authors is that the work is a hoax. This position is universally held by tartan scholars today....
And more importantly from the official Scottish tartan authority --
The Vestiarium was seized upon by Clan Chiefs and the weaving industry with equal fervour. Very few thought seriously to question the claims and it wasn't until almost 140 years later that an analytical study of the book was undertaken. The conclusion was that talented and ingenious though they were, the Sobieskis had perpetrated a fascinating and monumental hoax upon a gullible society and the vast majority of 'old' clan tartans came only from the fertile imagination of Charles the illustrator. The book jacket for that analytical study by D C Stewart and J C Thompson entitled Scotland's Forged Tartans says: "Despite the misgivings of a few, but potent, authorities, these tartans were eagerly accepted by a public desperate to wear its "authentic" clan tartans and a trade equally desperate to sell them and they have remained with us, highly respected and totally unauthenticated. . . . beyond all doubt, the Vestiarium and its background material are complete forgeries."
"Complete forgeries" may be a little strong because it's possible that some of the 75 tartans may have been based on historical samples that the Sobieskis came across.
Mark Rugg Gunn was inclined, by implication, to give the benefit of his doubt to the Vestiarium Scoticum as it suited his argument. Modern historians would suggest that all the tartans illustrated in the text may be of questionable historic worth.
For a fuller discussion on Gunn tartan issues see http://clangunn.weebly.com/gunn-tartan--scottish-commonwealth-games-tartan---2006.html
I have again reduced the price of the Kindle edition of my Clan Gunn history book for the next six or so days. See http://www.amazon.co.uk/Key-issues-Clan-Gunn-history-ebook/dp/B00J5M764C/ref=tmm_kin_title_0 for the UK site.
See http://www.amazon.com/Key-issues-Clan-Gunn-history-ebook/dp/B00J5M764C/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid= for the USA site.
Snorri Sturluson and Snaekoll Gunn; more on Clan Gunn chief 'non-descent' from the Orkney Islands
Following on from the previous entry I have placed the below on http://clangunn.weebly.com/why-gunns-are-not-of-norse--orkney-descent.html as it adds further support for the idea that the Clan Gunn chiefs do not descend from the Orkney aristocracy.
Part Seven ; the example of Snorri Sturluson
The renowned and well-born Icelandic poet and historian Snorri Sturluson, whose Háttatal is all about Duke Sculi and King Hákon, supported Duke Sculi in the late 1230s rebellion. Snorri Sturluson was later put to death by the King’s emissary in Iceland in 1241 for this behaviour. This execution of Snorri Sturluson again suggests that it would be extremely unlikely for King Hákon to have pardoned Snaekollr Gunnison / Snaekoll Gunnisson / Snaekoll Gunn and then send him back to various castles and lands in Scotland as suggested by traditional Clan Gunn history as if the King killed one well-known person who supported the rebellion against his rule then it is extremely unlikely that he would have greatly honoured another significant rebel.
There just isn't any historical support for Snaekoll Gunn returning to Scotland - and the Norwegian and Scottish documents exist which would have mentioned such an event.
Clan Gunn origin - Wikipedia
The problem with Wikipedia is that in areas of dispute it gets very confused. Currently it says of Clan Gunn origin (accessed 17 July 2014)
Clan Gunn is a Scottish clan associated with northeastern Scotland, including Caithness and Sutherland as well as the Orkney Islands. The Clan Gunn is one of the oldest Scottish Clans descended from the Norse Jarls of Orkney and the Pictish Mormaers of Caithness.
The traditional origin of the Clan Gunn is that the progenitor of the clan was one Gunni who came to Caithness at the end of the 12th century when his wife, Ragnhild, inherited the estates from her brother, Harald Maddadsson who was the Earl of Orkney. His wife descended from St Ragnvald, who was the founder of the St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney. Gunni, whose name meant war, was allegedly descended from Viking adventurers and his grandfather was Sweyn who was killed in a raid on Dublin in 1171. Smibert however states that the Gunns were of Gaelic origin. The Norse link is questionable[original research?] as Snaekollr Gunnison went into exile in Norway in 1231/2 and there is proof of him being still there in 1239, on the side of the rebellion against King Hacon/Haakon and there is no proof of his return to Scotland...
In other words Wikipedia argues against itself.
But let's look at the key issue. The Clan Gunn origin problem is the supposed 'Chief Snaekoll Gunn' link to the Orkney islands / Norway but
I'd love to hear an academic argument for the 'Clan Gunn Chief' / Orkney link. I just can't find any and I am trying to find the truth in Gunn history. All I see is a quasi-religious faith issue -
I believe the Gunn Chiefs were related to the nobility of the Orkney islands so it must be true!
Or, if you prefer, how does one disprove a conspiracy theory? Because the idea that Gunn chiefs descend from the Orkney aristocracy has no more proof than a conspiracy theory, such as the world is flat...
As I have said before there is no Clan Gunn Chief link to the Orkney Islands. The Clan Gunn began as a non-kindred tribal group of original inhabitants of parts of Caithness and Sutherland.
On what basis does the Clan Society UK include the Orkney Islands in their 2015 International Gathering http://www.clangunnsociety.org/2015-international-gathering ?
I can see the quasi-religious 'article of faith' belief for Clan Gunn Chiefs coming from the Orkney Islands but, as said above, I am not aware of any academic basis for a supposed 'Clan Gunn Chief' - meaning Snaekoll Gunn / Ottar Snaekollson - having an academically verifiable Orkney islands link. And I like my history based on fact...
Clan Gunn origin and Clan Gunn Chief issues
Following email discussions I thought I should restate a few key points (detailed support can be found in this site) -
Highland Games are great fun but whether they have any historic validity is a seriously different matter. The BBC have recently had some excellent articles on such Games -
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-27891460 'Americans always, Scottish forever' being a look at the the California Highland Games - reminding me of my visit to the Dubai Highland Games in the early 1990s...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-28066270 being a general comment about such Games.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-27732501 for a brief comment about Braemar Highland Games.
http://www.ambaile.org.uk/en/sub_section.jsp?SectionID=3¤tId=94 provides a useful comment about the Victorian 're-invention' of Highland Games (along with Clan tartans, Clan badges, romantic Clan histories and such like...)