Gunn History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Coat of Arms
Gunn Coat of Arms
Clan Crest
Gunn Clan Crest
Crest A demi-cat-a-mountain salient Proper
Motto Aut Pax, Aut Bellum
Translation Either Peace or War
Plant Juniper
Gaelic Name Gunn
Origin of Name Derived from Norse or Pictish origins
Pipe Music Various traditional Scottish bagpipe tunes
War Cry Caisteal na Creige!


In the rugged and ancient landscapes of northern Scotland, a clan with a rich and storied history emerges—the Clan Gunn. From their origins intertwined with the Picts and the Norse, to their resilience during turbulent times, Clan Gunn has left an indelible mark on Scottish heritage. Join us as we delve into the captivating history, enduring traditions, and notable figures associated with the Clan Gunn.

Origins and Norse Connections

The ancestral lands of Clan Gunn lie in the remote and inaccessible region on the Caithness-Sutherland border. As the Picts faced challenges from the Gaelic Scots of Dalriada and Viking invaders, survivors sought refuge in these unforgiving highlands. The origins of the clan's name are often debated, with some suggesting a Norse lineage stemming from Gunni of the Norse sagas. Another theory proposes a connection to the Old Norse word "Gunnr," meaning war, which reflects the martial spirit associated with the clan.

Chieftains and Territorial Challenges

Throughout the Middle Ages, Clan Gunn's territories faced encroachment from neighboring clans. By the mid-15th century, the chief adopted the Gaelic patronymic Mac Seumais Cataich, signifying their association with James of Caithness. George Gunn, a notable chief, held the title of Crowner and resided in the impressive Clyth Castle. Unfortunately, his efforts to reconcile with the Clan Keith ended tragically with his assassination in 1464.

Highland Clearances and Resilience

The 19th century brought great hardship for Clan Gunn during the Highland clearances. Dispossessed of their ancestral lands, many Gunns turned to fishing along the coast, while others sought new opportunities in far-flung destinations such as New Zealand and Canada. Despite these challenges, the spirit of the clan endured, and in 1821, the Clan Gunn society was formed under the leadership of the 10th Mac Seumais, marking their determination to preserve their heritage.

Notable Figures and Cultural Contributions

Among the notable figures associated with Clan Gunn is Neil Gunn (1891-1973), a renowned novelist whose works have been celebrated as a pinnacle of modern Scottish fiction. Born into a seafaring family, Neil Gunn's upbringing and Gaelic-speaking background influenced his literary endeavors, capturing the essence of Scottish heritage.

Preservation and Legacy

Today, the Clan Gunn museum, located near Latheron and in close proximity to Helmsdale, serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of Clan Gunn. It stands as a gathering place where descendants and enthusiasts alike can connect with their roots, explore ancestral artifacts, and deepen their understanding of the clan's history.


Clan Gunn, with its Norse and Pictish origins, its resilience in the face of territorial challenges, and its contributions to literature and culture, holds a significant place in Scottish heritage. The clan's story exemplifies the strength and determination of the northern warriors who shaped the history of the Scottish Highlands. As we reflect on the indomitable spirit of Clan Gunn, we celebrate their enduring legacy and the preservation of Scotland's rich cultural tapestry.

Gunn Tartans

Tartan Image
Gunn Modern Tartan Gunn Modern Tartan
Gunn Ancient Tartan Gunn Ancient Tartan
Gunn Muted Tartan Gunn Muted Tartan
Gunn Weathered Tartan Gunn Weathered Tartan
Gunn Hebridean Tartan Gunn Hebridean Tartan