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Sunday, 12 June 2016

Ottar Snaekollson was never a Gunn; there is no Gunn Orkney Islands / Viking / Norse origin

Some believe that there was a 'Chief Ottar Snaekollsson Gunn' (see Mark Rugg Gunn's book pages 31- 32) who was the supposed son of 'Chief Snaekoll Gunn'. This Ottar is by inference the proof that somehow Snaekoll made it back to Scotland and so the Gunn Orkney origin idea is true. The Gunn Orkney origin myth fails all the tests including this Ottar Snaekollson test.
It fails because we know about when Snaekoll was born (roughly 1200) as his mother's first husband (not the 'Gunn') is well known and he died in the Battle of Wick in 1198. The academic reference to an 'Ottar Snaekollson' meeting King Hakon in Bergen is certainly correct. But the meeting is in 1224. That's right, 1224, so any son of Snaekoll would be lucky to be four years old and would certainly not be sent to negotiate with a King! And Snaekoll's marriage / children would have been mentioned in the 'Orkneyinga Saga' as his life is very much detailed in that text and it is not so mentioned.

The Hebrideans who went to Bergen to negotiate with the King in 1224 did take an Ottar Snaekollson but he was an important Sudreyan Chief living on the west coast of Scotland and the right sort of man to negotiate with a King.

So there goes 'Ottar Snaekollson supposed Chief Gunn'; he has no role in any Gunn history. And it's another nail in the ridiculous Gunn Orkney origin idea...

Saturday, 4 June 2016

More on why Gunns do not descend from the Orkney Islands and so have have no main Viking / Norse descent

Just some further reasons why the Gunns do not have any Orkney / Norse / Viking links, and note the real academic strength of the person making the points.. -

‘Chief' Snaekoll Gunn (from whom the Gunns are supposed to descend if you believe the fantasy history) ----

'Despite his part in the murder of the earl Snaekoll was not condemned to death at the trial in Bergen (Norway) but "remained long with earl Skuli and King Hacon (in Norway)" … and there is no evidence that he ever returned to Orkney or Caithness … Despite the claims of Clan Gunn to be descended from him…’[1]

Snaekollr Gunnison who went to Bergen (as said, Norway) in 1232 to claim Earl John's inheritance (but never seems to have come home again)'[2]

These quotes are by Barbara Crawford who ‘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… 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.’[3]

[1] Page 8, B.E. Crawford, The Earls of Orkney-Caithness and their Relations with Norway and Scotland:1158 – 1470, Ph.D. thesis submitted at the University of St. Andrews, 1971.
[2] Page 8, B. E. Crawford 'Medieval Strathnaver' in ed. John R. Baldwin, The Province of Strathnaver, The Scottish Society For Northern Studies, 2000.
[3]…/staff/barbaracrawford.html accessed 4 December 2014.

It really is fiction to believe the Gunns have an Orkney / Viking origin..

Monday, 9 May 2016

'Clan Gunn castles'; more accurately Gunn fortalices

'Clan Gunn castles' are not castles - they are, at best, fortalices (fortified houses) due to their size.
Glensanda 'Castle' (Morvern) is classified as a Tower House by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland; NIgel Tranter page 178 in Volume 5 of his The Fortified House in Scotland which covers Caithness and Sutherland, views Glen Sanda as a fortalice. And the supposed 'Clan Gunn castles' are roughly the size (or smaller) of Glen Sanda... (The RCAHMS give measurements for the 'Clan Gunn castles'; Bulnacraig 'castle' is 37 feet by 23 feet and Halberry 'castle' 44 feet by 28 feet'.)
The word 'castle' has been lazily applied; its use supports a vainglorious view of Gunn history.

Nigel Tranter, Volume 5, The Fortified House in Scotland

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Gunn history; 'Clan Gunn Society history' and St Donan's Day

St Donan's Day is tomorrow and it is an event much celebrated by the Clan Gunn Society even though it has nothing to do with any academically based Gunn history.

By this I mean St Donan had nothing to do with Kildonan in Sutherland. One has to consider the traditional Gaelic name for Kildonan - and it has nothing to do with St Donan. If St Donan had impact on the Kildonan area then it is logical to assume the traditional name would show it. As well, the lives of the saints on the west coast are quite well documented, including St Donan, but there is no paperwork for him visiting what is now Sutherland. And we are talking the 600s here - moving from the west coast of Scotland to Sutherland would be like visiting Mars today. For more see

Which gets to the point of this entry. There are basically two Gunn histories now operating -

I like real Gunn history and will continue my research...

Friday, 15 April 2016

Origin of the Gunn surname

'Professor Carole Hough, Professor of Onomastics at Glasgow University, said most (Scottish) surnames came from a place, an occupation, a relationship, or a characteristic.'​ 

The origin of the Gunn name is from a place (northern Highlands) and that place had a characteristic people ('prickly'). As said, to believe that all Scottish surnames are clan names is simplistic nonsense. The Gunn name being of a regional / characteristic origin  is not an unusual idea if one considers all Scottish surnames.