Scottish Clan Crest Badges
A Brief History and Meaning Behind the Images and Rubber Stamps
By Kim Victoria
“Clan” means Family, it’s that simple. All societies have clan groups, which may also be called tribe, family, house, kinship group, band, etc. In Scotland the clans were groups of families, bound together by geographical area and survival necessity for centuries.
As interest in genealogy and heritage has increased, so too has interest in knowing about family names and DNA. Many Scottish societies are accumulating DNA and historical family information related to clan groups. Knowing about your family bloodlines is interesting, gives you connection to more of the world, and can help you know how to maintain optimal health for you and your family.
A part of that connection is the Scottish Clan Crest Badge, which you may use to show your family ties to that clan.
When Scotland was a wild place with few roads and isolated valleys and islands, each district was its own clan society ruled by a clan chief. All the families living there were part of that clan, even when they had different bloodlines. Those with different bloodlines and surnames were known as “septs” of the ruling chief’s name.
Heraldry and heraldic art developed as chiefs created emblems for flags, banners, and insignia on apparel; so that when there was a dispute, or war between clans, the colors and emblems would help the combatants know who they were fighting for – and against. These emblems developed into a sophisticated art form. Eventually a registrar was developed for what became known as “Coat of Arms.”
Tartan also developed this way; and also because only certain plant dyes existed in specific areas. In-other-words, clans originally only had “district tartans;” clan tartans developed later.
Coat of Arms and the Badge
Only an individual has a coat of arms; which is a display awarded by the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, the official herald-in-chief for Scotland. No one may use another person’s coat of arms for themselves. Therefore, to show kinship with the same family as the Clan Chief they may use a crest badge emblem.
The crest badge is that part of the clan chief’s coat of arms above the helmet. The crest is placed inside a strap and buckle to make the pictorial statement “I support my chief.”
Over time, many clans lost having a chief due to death without heir. The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs resolved that crest badges should also include the words “An Cirean Ceann Cinnidh” to designate that there is a living, recognized chief for that clan. It means “Crest of the Chief of the Clan” in Gaelic. Please visit your clan’s or society’s web site for more information. († for pronunciation guide)
About the Rubber Stamps
Kim Victoria worked with Chiefs, presidents and other officials in the Scottish clan societies to ensure that all the crest badges follow the current recognized heraldic conventions. As new chiefs are recognized, their crest or mottoe of their coat of arms may be different than the previous chief and thus the crest badge must change also.
Some of the rubber stamp designs have, and some don’t have, the words “an cirean ceann cinnidh,” either because there is not a recognized chief, or because many stamps went into production before the resolution was made. You may request that the words be cut off of the stamp you purchase, or have a custom stamp made with the words if they are not currently available for your clan.
Kim Victoria has designed these crest badge images with rubber stamping in mind. The designs have been modified to display well in the smaller size and to reproduce beautifully with inks. Mounted on Eastern hard maple, and vulcanized from the best red rubber in the industry, by Circustamps of California. Custom stamps are polymer only, which is also an excellent stamping material.
If you do not see your clan name and want to have a stamp of that badge please see Custom Stamps Services for more information. Or got to my Etsy shop and start a conversation there. View page 4 of the Clan Badge listings to see the existing custom clans.
All are original hand-drawn art by Kim Victoria © Copyright 1998 through 2018
The name of the clan is usually not part of the stamp design, unless requested custom.
Only one spelling is available with the red rubber.
Red rubber badges are 1 1/4” X 1 3/4” size. Custom polymer stamps can be different sizes.
Useful Information and Links
† The words “An Cirean Ceann Cinnidh” means “Crest of the Chief of the Clan” in Gaelic.
Pronunciation and literal translation is roughly:
The – Crest – Head – a Clan
un – kirin – keyow’n – keeñee
The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs requests the use of these words with the badge when there is a living chief for that clan.