Welcome back to the tartan blog! It feels like it has been ages since I last put up any new clan info but the drought is over and I’m about to rain down some refreshing knowledge drops upon the sun-baked soil of our website to help you quench your thirst for Scottish history.
The Clan that we will be looking into this time around is Clan Clark. Well, I say Clan, but when I retrieved ScotlandShop’s weighty and, to be honest, horrifically dusty guide to the Scottish Clans, I was dismayed to discover that Clark is not a clan. Actually the Clarks form septs of the MacPhersons as well as the Camerons so they aren’t necessarily a clan in and of themselves. But please, don’t be deterred, there are plenty of interesting things about the Clarks that we can chew over for a while.
I have, in writing these blogs, become much more interested in the etymology of names, I’m sure you aren’t as interested in it as I am, having – as you do – much better things to concern yourself with. However, I beg you indulge me for just one moment and when we get through it, you will get a special treat at the end.
Clark (alternatively spelled Clarke) is derived from the Latin word clericus which, a quick google translate tells me, can mean cleric, clergyman, scholar, priest, student, scribe or disappointingly clerk. It would seem then that this was a surname that was given by merit of profession however, in time, the name was used for anyone that was literate. Wow, that was a lot quicker than I had thought it would be, but I promised you a treat and here it is; there is some thought knocking about that Clark is the oldest name in Europe, now that is pretty cool – is it not?
There have been many notable Clarks throughout history such as Helen Clark (New Zealand’s 37th Prime Minister) however, the Clark I want to focus on is Jim Clark.
I recently got in touch with Andrew Tulloch, the assistant curator at the Jim Clark Memorial Room in Duns – just down the road from the ScotlandShop offices, here is what he had to say about Jim Clark.
What has Jim Clark’s legacy done to help the Scottish Borders?
For the Borders he has been an icon of success. He demonstrated that it was possible for someone from here to start out in a sport at a local level and to rise to a position where they are regarded as the World’s best. For central Berwickshire the Jim Clark Room is a focal point for tourists to visit when they are in the area. Many of our visitors just come because of Jim Clark and this is a region they might not have visited otherwise.
What marks out Jim Clark as one of the greats of Motorsport?
I think that there are two things. One is his smooth driving style which enabled him to be successful in all sorts of vehicles and to the get the best out of cars which were not highly regarded by other drivers. The other aspect is his character. He was highly competitive while in the car but he was intrinsically modest and quiet. On a casual glance he did not seem like a racing driver which probably made his talents stand out so much more.
What is the most interesting piece of memorabilia in the Jim Clark Memorial Room?
I would say the Levi Strauss Trophy which was part of the prizes for winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1965. Jim Clark was the first British driver to win the race and the first European for over 50 years. It links into the above question as it showed that he was one of the greats. He still is the only driver to win the World Championship and the Indy 500 in the same season. Also his modesty and charm won Americans around. When he first raced in the USA Jim Clark and Lotus were seen as a threat but by 1965 they were very popular.
I’d like to give a big thank you to Andrew for taking the time to talk to me and I can only urge that any TartanBlog readers who are passing by Duns pop in and take a look at the Jim Clark Memorial Room, afterwards you could always stop by our offices and say hi, if you wanted.
If hearing about Jim Clark has brought out some family pride, why not take a look at our range of products available in Clark tartan here or perhaps you have been inspired to re-upholster your car in homage to the great man. Lastly, if you have any Clan Clark stories you want to share, don’t hesitate to get in touch.