Other Pages : Grant Arms

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[Last Update: 18th October 2007]

Flag of the Clan Grant

The Arms:

The arms of the Chief of Grant consists of three gold antique crowns on a red ground. What is less well known is that it was long supposed that prior to 1600 they were the same crowns on a blue ground. However we can show that this was an error on the part of the creators of the armorials which was then copied by others. [The details of the argument need not detain us here.] These arms were adopted by Olaf Hemingsson in Scotland, probably on his 21st birthday in 1059.

The colours of the Arms are the inverse of the Royal Arms (the Lion Rampant) and this shows Vassalage; the fact that there are three crowns rather than one is an acknowledgement of status (ie below the king). The emblem, the Ancient or Antique Crown, signifies Victory and is an acknowledgement of the Angel Victorius who was the one who appeared to St Patrick in the dream where he instructed him to go and evangelise Ireland.

Before cadency in Arms was formalised, many junior Grants adopted other arms. Thus in England, Thomas Grant chose "Argent, three Lions Lampant and a chief Azure" - the Lions Rampant reflecting his mother being a daughter of the Earl of Fife; Richard chose "Ermine, three Mullets Or on a bend Azure" reflecting not only his clerical vocation but also his close association with the Mar and Bisset families, while William, in Ireland, chose the Grant arms with a blue ground and a white bordure. Female Grants whose arms were adopted into others` achievements (Lordship of the Garioch and Frasers of Lovat) reverted to what we might call the "away strip" colours - the generic (and truly original) red on white of the Vikings.

There is a plausible argument to be made to link other instances of the use of the three antique crowns to the original adoption by Olaf Hemingsson.

For a very thorough collation of all known Grant Arms, there is no better nor more comprehensive a site than Stephen Plowman`s pages at Heraldry-on-Line

For a more general view of heraldry, the richest seam is the Scottish Heraldry Society`s site. There is also much useful and well reserached material at the Baronage Press

The Plant Badge:

The plant used by the Grants and all the so-called "Siol Alpin" is the Scots Pine tree. The fir tree had religious significance in pre-ChristianNorway (and the echo of this can be seen in the widespread use of Christmas trees today). It is also the case that the Norse word for "fir tree" is "GRAN". As we know that there were continuing close relations between the Grant chiefs and Norway into the late 1200s, the connection between the plant and the name cannot have been unknown. As we can trace the "Siol Alpin" to their common Ancestor Olav Hemingsson, it is reasonable to suppose that he used this symbol in some way. [Indeed we argue that the so-called "Siol Alpin" is really the "Siol Olav".]

The Crest:

The Crest is a "Burning Hill" - a symbol shared by other clans such as the Mackenzies. Like them we understand this to be symbolic of the beacons to be lit to warn of impending attack. While we argue that lighting a beacon at the Craigellachie by Aviemore was one of Olav Hemingsson`s responsibilities (only a few more beacons in a line would get the message of trouble brewing in Moray eg to Dunkeld), we are also aware that there was no connection between that site and the Clan Grant from 1098 to 1434 or so. Although for the Grants this symbol has become specifically associated with Craigelachie, the practice was clearly much more widespread. There is no particularly good reason or need to suppose its introduction was any later than Olav Hemingsson.

The Slogans:

The Grant Motto is "Stand Fast". The War Cry is "Craigelachie" (note the singular "l").

It is clear that the lack of any clan connection with either Craigelachie (behind Aviemore) or Craigellachie (by Aberlour) in the period 1098 to 1430 or beyond cannot be other than significant. In that period at least, the use of "Craigelachie" would have made no sense. While "Stand fast" could have had meaning pre-1098, it is little more than platitude in subsequent times. It seems most likely, therefore, that "Stand Fast" dates from pre-1098. While "Craigelachie" could date also from the return to Strathspey, it is more likely that it too dates to the pre-1098 era.

By the way: many people seem to think and claim that "Craigelachie" means "Rock of Alarm". Not so. In his "Placenames: Highlands and Islands of Scotland" (p249), Alexander MacBain says: "The name reads in Gaelic as Eileachaidh, which appears to be an adjective formed from the stem ailech, a rock, nominative ail. The idea is the stony or craggy hill - a thoroughly descriptive adjective." Nevertheless, of course, Craigelachie, where the beacon would have been lit, was indeed also a rock of alarm! Craigelachie gets its name from the old Elachie or Elach burn (now culverted) which almost certainly comes from a Pictish variant of the Gaelic ""eileach", which, according to Dwelly, has one of two meanings, either of which could be applicable (it is impossible to tell from the current geography) (a) "a weir or bank of stones where fish are guided into a cabhuil" or (b) "a place where water (in this case the Spey) can be crossed on stones (ie dryshod)". My own guess is that it is more likely to be the latter.


A certain "purism" seems to have overtaken heraldry in recent years. Most notably this has included the banning by Lord Lyon of any chief bearing a double-barrelled name. In the past many Grant chiefs have quartered their arms. Included amongst these have been James Grant, 7th of Freuchie (who quartered those of his wife Lady Mary Stewart) and, of course, several of the Ogilvie-Grant chiefs. However as with the name, in this respect also, the Grant Chiefs have reverted to first principles.

The Clan Grant Centre Trust