This foray into the history of Scottish clans will focus on Clan Buchanan, a clan noted for their impact on Scottish history as well as their *ahem* colourful tartan. Tracing their origin back to 1016 when Anselan o’Kyan – son of the king of Ulster – was given lands in Argyll. While some believe the clan’s name is derived from the aforementioned Anselan (Macanselan – meaning son of Anselan) others believe the name is derivative of Mac a Chanonaich or son of the canon. Whatever the origin of this name, these son of a guns have certainly made their mark on history.
King of Kippen
Walter Scott – a great source of information for this series of blogs – related a fantastic story about one notable member of this clan. In the 16th century, John Buchanan – the son of the 14 Chief of the clan – was made the proprietor of Arnprior. Arnprior was, and still is, a settlement near Stirling and was once one of Clan Buchanan’s estates. Anyway, one night James V was in Stirling Castle having a merry old time with some of his best chums and, much like his modern countrymen, James got a bit peckish after his session. The area around Stirling was, at the time, somewhat lacking in kebab shops so James sent his men out for the next best thing, some nice fresh Venison. Now, to get the meat back to Stirling, the King’s men had to travel past Arnprior where, not to conform to national stereotypes, John was also having a bit of a sesh with his mates. Seeing a load of tasty treats trundle past his door, John stopped the king’s men and commandeered their supplies. The king’s men protested that the meat belonged to the king to which John replied that if James was king in Scotland, he was King in Kippen. The men rode back to the king and explained the situation, prompting the king to head out to Arnprior. When the king arrived, John was understandably nervous but his fears were swept aside when James V stated that far from being angry, he had come to dine with the noted King of Kippen. After that, the name stuck.
Vive La France
The Buchanan clan crest shows a hand holding a hat (which seems a fairly sensible place to keep it when not on your head) but the story of how it got there is worth relating. For you see, this is not ordinary hat, it is in fact a ducal cap i.e. a duke’s hat, but which duke’s hat and why is it on the crest? Well, during the Hundred Years War, Henry V of England negotiated a scenario whereby he became the heir to the French throne. This not only annoyed the former heir to the throne (understandably) but also miffed the Scots who didn’t fancy the English having so much power. In order to limit the power of the English, the French and Scots formed an alliance in an attempt to restore the former heir. Many battles ensued, as you would expect, but we are concerned with the battle of Bague. In this battle Henry’s brother, Thomas of Lancaster the first Duke of Clarence, led the English against the French and Scots. The English were totally decimated by the allied army and the Duke of Clarence was slain by Alexander Buchanan. Therefore, the cap remains on the crest as a symbol of the clan’s allegiance to the French – Vive La France.
From one notable form of attack to another, more pleasant form. Neil Buchanan was the host of the exceptional children’s television programme Art Attack. Neil’s programme was seminal viewing for many of my contemporaries, myself included, and ran for 27 years! Who doesn’t remember Neil’s Big Art Attacks or The Head (apparently modelled on Neil’s own grandfather). More iconic than even The Head was Neil’s famous, red Art Attack jumper which apparently cost a whopping £700 (ScotlandShop’s outfits are a lot more reasonably priced and, a lot more stylish). If this has made you nostalgic for a bit of Buchanan, you can catch him playing with his heavy metal band Marseille (yes you read that correctly).
That will do for Clan Buchanan for now, if you have any Clan Buchanan stories you want to share with us, or know of any other notable clan members – though I doubt anyone can top Neil – don’t hesitate to get in touch.