We continue with our exploration of Scottish Clans and Clan Cameron and today we find out a little more about the clan crest. Worn to show allegiance to a particular clan, the Clan Crest belongs to the Clan Chief and the strap and buckle running around the perimeter of the crest shows that the wearer is a follower.
There are two crests which the Cameron's can wear to show their affiliation. The original "dexter arm" crest and the Five arrows crest, which dates back to before 1745, were both used, with the Five Arrows representing the five branches of the clan who were "united" with one another with a gules ribbon or band under the leadership of the Camerons of Lochiel during the early/mid-eighteenth century. According to Colonel Sir Donald H Cameron of Lochiel, KT, the XXVI Chief of Clan Cameron from 1910 to 2004, these five branches included:
1) MacMartins or Camerons of Letterfinlay
2) Camerons of Glen Nevis
3) Camerons of Callart and Lundavra
4) Camerons of Erracht
5) Camerons of Clunes
"Unite" or "Let Us Unite" is the present motto of the Clan Cameron, or in Gaelic "Aonaibh Ri Chéile", and appears on the clan crest along with the Five Arrows. This crest was engraved on Gentle Lochiel's pistol and a silver snuffbox which date back to pre-1745 and are still around today. Prior to this, and now also used by the present Lochiel, the old Dexter Arm crest carried the motto "Pro Rege et Patria," translated as meaning "For King and Country." There are many Cameron Septs and Scottish surnames that have been affiliated with Clan Cameron and it is worth checking with the Clan Cameron associations around the world if you think you may have a connection and be entitled to membership of this mighty Scottish Clan.
And what about the eagles feathers? Those Clan Chiefs officially recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms may wear three small eagles feathers with their clan crest, and heads of branches of a clan can may wear two feathers. You and I do not get to wear feathers.
Where there is no clan chief the clan is called an armigerous clan and and would not necessarily have a crest, however many have been created based on the history or particular characteristics of clan members and recorded in the Lyon register. Today you can find clan crests on many items such as kilt pins and cufflinks, and these are traditionally made from pewter or silver. Crest badges are not purely for the gentlemen and traditionally ladies would wear them to pin a sash of their clan tartan to the right shoulder. Only a female Clan Chief or the wife of the clan chief can pin to the left shoulder!
So there we have it a brief introduction to the clan crest, with a focus on Clan Cameron. Today Donald Cameron of Lochiel, XXVII of Lochiel, is the Hereditary Chief and gatherings are held around the world to promote the clan and heritage. If you are in Scotland you can even visit the Clan Cameron Museum at Achnarry, Spean Bridge, which tells the history of the clan from the 14th century to the present day.