Iain Gunn of Gunn‘It is very much a focal point for the clan’
Duration: 29m 16s
Recorded: 21 July 2019
About this recording
Iain Alexander Gunn is Chief of Clan Gunn. This interview was recorded in the Clan Gunn Heritage Centre, the former Parish Church of Latheron, which was refurbished last year. As Iain explains, the centre is a focal point for clan members from around the world.
The Gunns claim to be descended from Gunni, grandson of Svein Asleifarson (sometimes written as Asliefsson), the “Ultimate Viking” of the Orkneyinga Saga. Iain outlines some of the key incidents in the clan’s history, from bloody tales of battles and killings many centuries ago to the more recent establishment of kinship organisations and gatherings at home and abroad, notably in the USA.
“The roots are very important to them all,” he says. “I think in Scotland it’s not just being a Scot but being of a particular family. It makes people feel that they have got a very close family interest and they want to come to see where their ancestors came from.”
Iain also discusses the theory that a leading Gunn may have reached American shores long before Christopher Columbus’s voyage of 1492. Sir James, chief of the clan at the end of the 14th century, may have accompanied Prince Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, on an expedition to the New World as far back as 1398. The evidence includes an effigy of a medieval knight in armour, alleged to be Sir James, engraved on a rock face in Massachusetts. A cast of the effigy is on display in the centre.
The present Clan Gunn Society was formed in 1960 so will be celebrating its diamond jubilee in 2020.
Iain and his wife Bunty live at Swiney House, Lybster. In 2015 the Lord Lyon King of Arms for Scotland issued an interlocutor recognising Iain Alexander Gunn of Banniskirk as Chief of Clan Gunn. He is now Iain Alexander Gunn of Gunn, Chief of Clan Gunn, having served as Commander of Clan Gunn for over 40 years.
The Clan Gunn Heritage Centre is open from June to September, Mondays to Saturdays, between 11am and 4pm (closed for lunch 1pm to 2pm).