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Clan Gunn

Clan Gunn are a Scottish chiefly family


The ancestor of the Clan Gunn is said to have been Gunni, an aristocrat of Viking descent who settled in Caithness at the end of the twelfth century when his wife, Ragnhild, interited estates there from her brother Harold, Jarl of Orkney. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 399</ref> His wife was descended from St Ragnvald, founder of the great cathedral of St Magnus at Kirkwall.<ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 399</ref> The name Gunn is taken from a short version of the Norse name 'Gunnhildr' - the first element of which means 'battle'. <ref>David Doward, Dictionary of Scottish Surnames, 126</ref> Smibert however states that the Gunns were of Gaelic origin. <ref> Smibert, Thomas. (MDCCCL). (1850). The Clans of the Highlands of Scotland, being an Account of their Annals, Separately & Collectively, with Delineations of their Tartans, and Family Arms, 170 - 171.</ref>

Middle Ages

The first chief of Clan Gunn to appear definitively in records was George Gunn, who was crouner, or coroner, of Caithness in the fifteenth century. The proper Celtic patronymic of the Gunn chiefs was 'MacSheumais Chataich', but George Gunn was more widely known as 'Am Braisdeach Mor', the 'great brooch-wearer', so called for the insignia worn by him as coroner. He is said to have held court in his castle at Clyth in such splendour as to rival any Highland chief. In 1426 the Battle of Harpsdale was fought between Clan Gunn and Clan Mackaym but there was no conclusive outcome.

The Gunn's traditional enemies were the Clan Keith, who from their Ackergill Castle, challenged the Gunn chiefs for both political needs and for land. In one such feud it was claimed that Dugald Keith coveted Helen, daughter of Gunn of Braemor. As with most fueds, an excuse was found in a personal insult to justify the violence.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 399</ref>