History of Scottish Clans – Armstrong
The Armstrong is a clan that has origins all over the Scottish Borders. The name is said to have derived when the servant of a Scottish king saved his master’s life by hoisting him on to his own horse by his one uninjured arm during a battle. The clan was then known as Armstrong and received gifts of land in Liddesdale. Liddesdale borders Teviotdale to the east, Annandale to the west and Tweeddale to the north, with the English county of Cumberland across the border to the south.
The clan spread into Eskdale and surrounding areas and by 1425 it was reported that the clan could put over 3000 horsemen on a field. This marked them as one of the most populated clans in the area, as well as one of the most feared. This was the absolute height of the clan.
In that same year John Armstrong of Langholm, also known as Johnnie of Gilnockie, built a strong tower for the clan. In 1528, The English Warden of the Marches attacked this very tower that Johnnie of Gilnockie had built. The clan retaliated by burning Netherby to the ground. This attack and retaliation were noticed by King James V, and he saw a powerful clan that could easily threaten his own authority. King James V decided to take matters into his own hands. He tricked Johnnie of Gilnockie to meet at Hawick. King James V then hung Johnnie of Gilnockie and continued this same treatment to all Armstrongs.
This treatment of Armstrongs continued into the 1600s, however, many think that this treatment was brought on by themselves. The Armstrongs felt trapped after Johnnie of Gilnockie was captured and killed. The English were to the south, and the government, which had just killed one of their own was to the north. The clansmen returned to their old ways of looting and raiding. In 1610, after a raid in Penrith, their last laird was hung, and as a “broken clan” many left the Borders. Many of the Armstrongs fled to Ulster, specifically County Fermanagh. Today, Armstrong is among the 50 most common names in Ulster.
Today, the Gilnockie Tower still stands. it is located a few miles south of Langholm, just north of Canonbie. There is also a Clan Armstrong Trust Centre in Langholm which represents this clan in the Scottish Borders.
The legacy of this clan includes both the clan badge and the Armstrong Tartan. The clan badge includes an arm with the motto “Invictus Maneo” which means I remain unvanquished. The tartan is made of blues, greens, red, and black. At Tartan Plus Tweed there are many items available in this clan tartan and with the clan badge including ties, scarves, kilts, kilt pins, whisky glasses, and much more. To view our selection of clan items click here, call our helpful staff at 01896 208 007, or email our sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org.