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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
II. Gaelic Society


Swintons are an ancient family of royal Anglo-Saxon genesis. Another example of early heraldic practice is the famous raven-banner of the Vikings (the raven was considered in pagan days to be a manifestation of Odin, and was later borne on the banner of the Picto-Norse earls of Caithness and Orkney in Scotland). Another worthy example is the antiquity of the arms of the Scottish family of Murray, derived, like their name, from the province of Moray.

Silver and blue were the ancient livery colors of the Morayshire Picts, and stars are said to have been painted on their bodies, in these colors, as a war-paint" by which they could be distinguished from other tribes in battle. There was a noticeable tendency toward the use of blue in the original arms of the northeastern mormaerships (Celtic earldoms), the region including Mar, Buchan and Moray. In addition, stars appear in ancient Morayshire cave carvings, a possible indication of their ancient local significance. The heraldic device of "three Moray stars" appears in the arms of the Murrays and most old Morayshire families, including the MacRaes. These colors, silver on blue, also relate to the origin of the Scottish national flag, the cross of St. Andrew (Adam 520, 533).

The heraldic use of the three Moray stars by Murray families in the south of Scotland shows that their significance as a dynastic symbol extended even into preheraldic times, as these families migrated from the province of Moray before formal heraldry developed during the twelfth century. Such preheraldric dynastic affiliations throughout Gaeldom go hand-in-hand with shared heraldic symbology as a proof of the antiquity of pre-formal heraldry.

Such armorial bearings were born in the mists of the unrecorded past. They are a constant reminder of the ancient European origins of the Gaelic race, as indeed, much of what people think and do in their daily lives today is a direct legacy from their earliest ancestors. Many of the assumptions which guide people’s lives reflect basic attitudes born of long tradition, and yet they are as common in our day as the Christmas tree (symbol of continuous life in winter) or the Easter egg and Easter bunny (symbolic of fertility in the rites of spring)—all equally survivors from Western civilization’s earliest IndoEuropean roots.

Many such attitudes are so close to us that we scarcely notice them, or else they are held subconsciously. Jungian views on the "collective unconscious and "racial memory" take on a special aspect when considered in light of our heritage from those distant times. Nightly visitations by a "shee" (faery) prophesying the return of a leader, selfless and heroic (such as Arthur), from an otherworldly sleep (such as on the Isle of Avalon, or within a faery hill or "Sheed") to inspire great loyalty and deliver his people from an enemy (such as the English)—or at least lead them on a great quest (such as for the Grail):

These are recurrent archetypal themes, common to the Celtic peoples and their literature. They are an outgrowth of the pre—Christian religion of the Germanic and Celtic peoples (the "dawn religion") which arose out of a mix-


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