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The Williamsburg Scottish Festival and Celtic Celebration is pleased to have The Clan Sutherland as its Honored Clan for the 24th festival. The Clan Sutherland Society of North America is the organization that represents the Sutherland clansmen and women on the continent. The Sutherlands have a particularly interesting derivation. The name "Sutherland" is actually of Norse origin. The Vikings called the Scottish mainland to the south of Caithness "Sudrland," the expression for "southern land." They occupied and settled much of the area, even as far south as Inverness. In 1130, King David I granted land further south in Moray to a supporter, Freskin. Freskin is generally thought to be a. Flemish nobleman and supporter of Davis. He also apparently married into the Duffus Branch of the Royal House of Moray and thus firmly established his territorial claims. As the power of the Vikings diminished in the area, Freskin and his family began to acquire the lands further to the north in Sutherland. By 1235, King Alexander II had appointed the first Earl of Sutherland. About this time the family of Freskin split. Freskin's grandsons, Hugh and William, are considered to have founded the great houses of Sutherland and Murray. Those who continued to live in Moray assumed the name Murray, while those to the north took the name "Sutherland."

About this time the Clan Rallying or War Cry had its origins. The Clan Sinclair attempted to challenge Sutherland power in the north by endeavoring to move the Bishopric from Dornoch and out from Sutherland control. Much of the town and its cathedral were put to the torch. The fighting men of Clan Sutherland were called to arms with the cry "Ceann na Drochaide Bige!" The cry meant "The Head of the Little Bridge" and urged the Sutherlands to gather at the bridge near Golspie. The Sutherlands then marched north bringing fire and sword into Sinclair country, punishing the usurpers of Sutherland power.

Kenneth, the 4th Earl, was killed during the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333, locked in combat with Edward III's English forces. The 5th Earl of Sutherland was married to the daughter of Robert the Bruce. Their son was briefly heir to the Scottish throne, but died during a plague outbreak. The 6th Earl constructed the original Dunrobin Castle.

The Sutherlands were in an on-going conflict with the Gordons to the south, actually having the Gordons usurp the Sutherland earldom. However, the dispute over succession was heard in the House of Lords in the 18th century and the Countess of Sutherland was confirmed in the title in her own right. The countess married the Marquis of Stafford, who was subsequently created the first Duke of Sutherland in 1833. The Duke and Duchess were responsible for the notorious "Clearances." These attempts to improve the estates were a total disaster and resulted in the significant and tragic depopulation of Sutherland. The Clearances dispersed the clan, but the name remains one of the most common in the northern Highlands.

The Clan Sutherland is experiencing a significant rebirth with Clan Sutherland Societies established throughout the world. The Clan Sutherland Society in Scotland was founded in 1897 and reconstituted in 1977. The Clan Sutherland Society of North America (CSSNA) represents the Clan Sutherland in the United States. This organization is affiliated with the Clan Sutherland Society in Scotland and is united under the Countess of Sutherland, the Clan Chief. Miss Sally Southerland and sixteen other Sutherlands founded the CSSNA when they gathered at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, North Carolina in July 1976. Dunrobin Castle in Golspie remains the seat of the Clan and a destination for clansmen and women from around the globe. The castle features a Clan Room that is a repository for the history of the great Clan Sutherland.

The Sutherland motto is "Sans peur" - "Without fear" in French. The Clan crest is the cat salient proper. The Clan emblem is the butcher's broom, while "The Earl of Sutherland's March" is the Clan pipe music. The septs of the Clan Sutherland are Broom, Cheyne, Chiene, Clyne, Duffus, Federith, Gray, Keith, Mowat, Moray/Murray, and Oliphant.

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