When the wearing of tartan was outlawed after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, clansmen wore their clan's plant badge as an act of defiance and identification.
Standing where the River Bogie meets the Deveron, on the outskirts of the market town of Huntly, the castle is now a ruin. There are splendid fireplaces and traces of French influenced architecture. Huntly Castle was the seat of the chief of Clan Gordon for 500 years.
Auchindoun became a Gordon stronghold in the 16th century, was sacked by Clan Mackintosh in 1591 and abandoned in the 18th century when stones were removed for local building projects. Fyvie Castle on the banks of the River Ythan and dates from the 13th century.
Eighteenth century print of Gordon Castle
Gordon Castle, at Gight near Fochabers was built in 1789 for Alexander 4th Duke of Gordon as a new seat for the Gordon chief. It was the biggest country house in Scotland and though most of the castle has been demolished, a tall block and two wings still remain. Robert Burns visited Gordon Castle on his tour of the Highlands and commemorated the visit in his song Castle Gordon.
The Gordons, have occupied this site for over 500 years. Kellie Castle, the family's previous home was burnt down by the Covenanters and Haddo House, designed by William Adam, dates from 1732. During the Second World War, Haddo became a maternity hospital for Glasgow evacuees and more than 1,000 children were born here.
The Vestiarium Scoticum was published in Edinburgh in 1842 and purported to reproduce an ancient manuscript on the clan tartans of Scotland, complete with colour illustrations. Shortly after its publication, the book was denounced as a forgery and the Stuart brothers compilers - who claimed to be Bonnie Prince Charlie’s grandsons - were also imposters.
Clan Gordon Tartan
Like many others, the Gordon tartan is based on the Black Watch tartan. When General Wade formed the first Highland regiment at Aberfeldy in 1725, there were six Independent companies known as the 42nd Regiment of Foot. The companies were amalgamated into a single regiment in 1739 and this regiment became known as the Black Watch.
The Gordon Highlanders took its name from the Clan Gordon and recruited principally from Aberdeen and the North-East of Scotland. The Gordons were a British Army infantry regiment from 1881 until 1994 when they amalgamated with the Queens’ Own Highlanders to form The Highlanders (Seaforths, Gordons and Camerons). Ten years later The Highlanders were amalgamated with other Scottish infantry regiments into the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
James Kennaway’s first novel Tunes of Glory was on his experiences in the Highlanders. He later scripted the film, which starred Alex Guinness and John Mills. And George MacDonald Fraser, author of the Flashman novels, was a lieutenant in the Gordon Highlanders between 1946 and 1947. His three volumes of short stories, largely featuring Private McAuslan, the Dirtiest Soldier in the World, were based on his time with the regiment.
Illustration by R.R. Maclan
George Gordon, the 4th Earl of Huntly, whose mother was the illegitimate daughter of King James IV, was 10 when he inherited his father’s lands and titles. When Mary, Queen of Scots transferred the Earldom of Moray – which had been given to Huntly – to her half brother Lord James Stewart, Huntly retreated to Aberdeenshire, but with Mary’s half-brother continually plotting against him in October, 1562, was eventually forced to fight at Corrichie, outside Aberdeen.
Huntly was heavily outnumbered and he died after the battle. His sons, John and Adam Gordon, were taken to Aberdeen and tried for treason. John was found guilty and on October 30 was beheaded in the Castlegate, with Queen Mary watching. Seventeen year old Adam was also found guilty, but was eventually released because of his age. Huntly’s oldest son and heir, also George Gordon, was ordered to Edinburgh where he too was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. Then he was removed to Dunbar Castle to await the trial of his father’s corpse.
The corpse of George Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntly was taken by boat to Edinburgh, tried for treason and found guilty. The dead man was stripped of his lands and titles.
Mary, Dauphine of France
His son, George Gordon was kept at Dunbar. He was released and his father’s lands and titles were reinstated when Mary needed someone to check her half brother, the Earl of Moray. He became the 5th Earl of Huntly.
The story of the Huntly rebellion and their eventual downfall is told in the Galloglas DVD, Clan Gordon. The full trial of the Huntly corpse, the story behind the ballad The Bonnie Earl of Moray and the 6th Earl of Huntly’s relationship with King James VI is filled with intrigue, romance and murder. Filmed on location to the highest standards the Galloglas DVD, Clan Gordon is a must for every Gordon to own. This DVD is not yet available; if you would like to be informed of the release date please email firstname.lastname@example.org.