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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Source of readers for this Clan Gunn blog

As people keep finding this site I thought I would mention the top five country sources for readers of this Clan Gunn blog since its inception -

  1. USA
  2. Canada
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Australia
  5. Russia

Saturday, 8 March 2014

RSS feed on new website

Sorry, I said I wouldn't add here - and I am trying not to  - but I thought I should mention that the new website now has as RSS feed see

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 - the new website is up and running


or just type or click the link to the right

for the new website containing all the information from this blog. The website is so much more accessible...

I will add further information only on that website. This blog is now no longer active (effective from 25 February 2014) except for the late added Pinterest link to the right.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

'Key issues for a Clan Gunn history' - the book is now published.

My fifty page A5 black and white print book is now published; it is based on detailed academic research and radically challenges the traditional history. It is an extract from a work in progress - I am writing a full book - New history of the Clan Gunn.  Of course more information is found as I work on the New history, for example the recent entry on this blog (and on the website) concerning Snaekollr Gunnison's life in Norway and the AVM runestone are not incorporated into the above booklet.

The main contents are - 
  • The surname Gunn
  • Do Gunns have an Orkney / Norse origin?
  • Were there Gunn 'Chiefs' before Gunn coroner? (And he's a coroner as I explain in the booklet.)
  • Gunn / Keith 'battles'
  • Were there later Gunn Chiefs?
  • What about the Mckaimish (and that's one of the two correct spellings as I explain in the booklet) line as Chief?
  • Is the Clan Gunn Crest Badge and motto legal?
  • What about the Gunn castles?
  • Should Gunns be viewed as a Clan?
  • Did a Gunn help 'discover' America?

The text is published by Lulu, probably the world's leading print on demand company. I have nothing to do with any aspect of the publishing, printing or posting. I do not see any details relating to any order. Copy and paste the below link into a new screen- 

which takes you to the product page. Click 'Preview' under the front cover image if you want to see sample pages. Note the sample pages show colour - as said this is a black and white book. And then it's the normal internet shopping basket method of buying the item. You can pay with credit card or Paypal.

It can be ordered through the traditional method by using the ISBN number -  ISBN 9781291735031 - but it may take a couple of weeks for that number to filter through to your local bookshop.

Now, 14 March  2014, also available on Amazon - who order it from Lulu...


The website has been published but until it's been picked up by Google and such like it can't be found. So we just have to wait a bit longer...

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Snaekollr Gunnison - one of the definitely not Gunn 'Chiefs'

To put a framework on this for those who are confused - if Snaekollr Gunnison (who killed Earl John) died in Norway then the whole idea of Gunn Chiefs (if any existed)  having an 'Orkney  Islands / Norway' link disappears as it is accepted that he did not have family before his exile to Norway (his life before his Norwegian exile is fully detailed in the Orkneyinga Saga and does not include marriage or children) -

From a book I bought three days ago -

'Snaekollr Gunnison who went to Bergen in 1232 to claim Earl John's inheritance (but never seems to have come home again)'[1]

[1] Page 8, B. E. Crawford ' Medieval Strathnaver' in  John R. Baldwin ed., The Province of Strathnaver, 2000, 
The Scottish Society For Northern Studies.

And from page 8 (yes, it's the same page number as the above footnote) of the above  B. E. Crawford's 1971 Doctoral thesis - '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" (2) and there is no evidence that he ever returned to Orkney or Caithness' (3)

Her footnote (2) is ibid.. p. 485 (being ES ii p. 480) but it's the third footnote I find of real interest -

(3) ' Despite the claims of Clan Gunn to be descended from him (The Highland Clans, Moncrieffe of that Ilk, p. 160)


So who is this author who dared suggest - against the traditional (tartanist) history -  that Snaekoll Gunnison did not return to Scotland and so imply that the Gunn link to the Orkney Islands is rubbish? Well it's

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

Barbara Crawford is Honorary Reader in  History at the University of St. Andrews having spent over thirty years as a teacher in the Dept. of Mediaeval History. Since taking early retirement in 2001 she has continued to pursue her researches into the history and archaeology of the Scandinavian settlements in Scotland, and contacts across the North Sea  in the Middle Ages.

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 is currently President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. As Honorary Director of the Strathmartine Centre for Scottish History (an independent charitable trust established by the late Dr. Ronald Cant before his death in 1999, for supporting research and education in Scottish History) ( she has been instrumental in encouraging  many different Scottish history research projects. Her book on the “The Northern Earldoms. Orkney and Caithness from 870-1470 AD. Joint Earldoms and Divided Loyalties”, which reverts back to the subject of her original doctoral thesis, is currently nearing completion.

so it is fair to assume Dr Crawford knows what she is talking about given her academic standing.

The Orkney Islands - Gunn 'Chief' link just does not stand up to scrutiny and descent from Snaekollr is the key flaw in it.


And one should not forget the Skaldic poem written in 1239 ascribed to Snaekollr,  again supporting the idea that he stayed  in Norway as to write such poetry required serious  time there. See Guðrún Nordal, Tools of Literacy; The role of Skaldic Verse in Icelandic Textual Culture of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Century.

And he was a 'governor'  in Norway of an administrative district; he was given the position by Duke Skule.   Source?  Kari Ellen Gade, Poetry from the kings’ sagas Volume 2,  see accessed 21 February 2014.  So who is this author who suggests that Snaekollr Gunnison probably spent the rest of his life in Norway? It's Kari Ellen Gade  who is Professor of Germanic Studies and Director of Graduate Studies at Indiana University.  (And when younger Kari Gade was one of a group who made up the 'AVM Runestone' which was accepted to show how Vikings 'discovered'  North America  until the group said they did it - this supports questions about the Gunn Westford knight carving; see The Westford knight myth is, in my view, solely useful for bringing American tourist dollars to Scotland.)  Again, it is fair to assume Professor Gade knows what she is talking about given her academic position.

Snaekollr probably died in Norway around the time Duke Skule failed in his rebellion in May 1240. Snaekollr held a major position under Skule and so would have been 'removed' when Skule's rebellion was crushed, if he had not already died supporting the rebellion.  The Gade reference above has 'Snækollr (Snæk) was one of Skúli Bárðarson’s district chieftains who were captured by the Birkibeinar in 1239';  once captured one assumes little chance of escape...

There is no way a major rebel would be left alive, or could get back to the Orkney Islands or Scotland (and get lots of Gunn land) as the traditional myths state. There is no Gunn link to the Orkney Islands.

Some further quotes / points -

‘The last  sole heir-male of the line, Snaekoll Gunnason ... is last heard of in Norway in 1239.’ Page 168, Old-lore Miscellany of Orkney, Shetland, Caithness and Sutherland, Volume 10, Parts 3-5, The Club, 1938.

‘when he was arrested by the king’s men as a rebel in the active service of the rebel Duke Skuli, for which he probably paid the same penalty as his companions, after giving vent to a poetic lament, which may have been one of the earliest recorded verses of a Caithness man. With Snaekoll, the line of Erland became extinct.’[1]

The trial was in Bergen in 1232; five men were executed but not Snekoll (which is how the name is spelt in the Norwegian records..)

[1] Page 186 Old-lore Miscellany of Orkney, Shetland, Caithness, and Sutherland, Volume 10, Parts 3-5, The Club, 1938

And see my posts here on the non-existent 'Ottar' the supposed son of Snaekoll (Ottar is also discussed in detail in the booklet) ... 

In essence the only 'academic' proof offered from the sagas for this Ottar - see, for example,  MRG's Clan Gunn text page 31 - says 'Ottar Snaekoll's son and many Hebrideans, came to meet him (King Hakon of Norway) there  (Bergen in Norway) from the west beyond the sea; and they had many letters concerning the needs of their lands.'

But it's not  'Gunn Snaekoll'. Why? Dr. R. Andrew McDonald  in his The Kingdom of the Isles Scotland's Western Seaboard c 1100 - c 1336 gives a date to this event - 1224. (Page 88). Now Snaekoll's mother's first husband Litolf Baldpate died in 1198 so Snaekoll was born around 1200 as he's from the second husband. This makes Ottar be aged around four on this trip to Norway and he's all by himself (no mother, father or servants) and carrying letters. This seems very unlikely! And Caithness is a long way from the Hebrides; why would the Hebrideans pick up this random child especially as the Hebrideans have their own local Ottar Snaekellson - a Sudreyan Chief. And Snaekoll was not in Norwegian exile at this time; why would the son go without his father? And, of course, there is no mention of Snaekoll having any marriage or family in the Orkneyinga Saga and there should be as his life is dealt with in detail in that Saga. Omission means it did not happen (the Sagas were the gossip magazines of their time - all detail relating to an Earl murderer would be in the Saga)...

You get the idea - there is no Ottar Snaekollson who has meaning for Gunn history. There goes the Orkney Islands link again...

For those wondering where this leaves the origin of the Gunns see the booklet or explore this blog (or the website when it can be found) ...