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
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.