Armstrong Clan

Coat of Arms
Armstrong Coat of Arms
Clan Crest
Armstrong Clan Crest
Crest A rearing horse argent on a green field
Motto "Invictus maneo" ("I remain unvanquished")
Translation Reflects the clan's fierce and unyielding nature
Plant Not known
War Cry "For Home and the Heather" or "It's a far cry to Lochaber" (depending on the source)

Armstrong History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Armstrong clan has a long and storied history in the Borders region of Scotland. The earliest known reference to an Armstrong in Liddesdale dates back to 1376, although the name had already been a family name south of the border for some time. Legend has it that the heroic progenitor of the Armstrongs, Fairbairn, saved the king of Scotland by lifting him onto his own horse with one arm after the king was unseated in battle. However, this legend is given too late a context to be a likely origin story for the name in Scotland.

The Armstrongs expanded their influence from Liddesdale into Annandale and Eskdale, and in about 1425 John, brother of Armstrong of Mangerton in Liddesdale, built Hollows Tower near the river bank. This well-preserved ruin is called Gilnockie today.

In the time of Johnie Armstrong, it was said that 3,000 of his name, all mounted, were in virtual control of the debatable land. The English Warden of the Border, Lord Dacre, attacked and set fire to Hollows Tower in 1528, but the Armstrongs retaliated by burning Netherby. James V of Scotland surrounded Johnie Armstrong and 36 horsemen and had them hanged. When Henry VIII invaded Scotland in 1542, James' army was routed at Solway Moss, with many preferring to surrender tamely rather than fight for so unpopular a king. This may have contributed to the posthumous reputation of Armstrong as a patriot who might have held the border against the English if James V had not executed him. However, in reality, he was a thief and a blackmailer.

Before the end of the century, another Armstrong of the Gilnockie branch, William of Kinmont Tower, was ambushed during a truce and carried off to the castle of Carlisle. In 1596, the Scottish warden, Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch, made a surprise attack and rescued him. A few years later, the union of the crowns brought peace to the borders, and the Armstrongs turned to more peaceful pursuits than reiving.

The Armstrong crest features a rearing horse argent on a green field, with the clan motto "Invictus maneo" ("I remain unvanquished") reflecting their fierce and unyielding nature. While the clan plant is not known, their war cry is said to be "For Home and the Heather" or "It's a far cry to Lochaber" depending on the source.

Armstrong Tartans

Tartan Image
Armstrong Modern Tartan Armstrong Modern Tartan
Armstrong Ancient Tartan Armstrong Ancient Tartan