Origins of the Clan

The Clan Skene is thought to have originally been an exceptionally early sept of the Clan Donnachaidh before it became known as the Clan Robertson. clan Skene is known in Gaelic as Siol Sgeine or Clann Donnachaidh Mhar. the traditional origin of the name is found in an eleventh century legend of the Robertsons. It is said that a younger son of the Robertsons of Struan saved the life of the King by killing a wolf with just a small dagger known as a sgian. He was rewarded with lands named after the weapon that brought him such good fortune. This story is commemorated on the chief’s shield which shows three wolves’ heads impaled on daggers or Dirks.

The Clan Skene are believed to have joined the army of King Alexander I of Scotland when he marched north to destroy rebells in the north in 1118.

The first recorded person of the name Skene was John de Skeen who lived during the reign of King Malcolm III of Scotland. John and his son Patrick Skeen are on the Ragman Rolls of 1296.



14th Century & Robert the Bruce

It is believed to be Patrick’s son who received a charter of the family lands from King Robert the Bruce in 1318.



15th Century & Clan Conflicts

In 1411 the Clan Skene fought at the Battle of Harlaw as did many other Scottish Lowland and Highland clans where their chief was killed. The Clan Skene were part of the Lowland army commanded by the Earl of Mar in support of the Duke of Albany. Their enemy was an army of Highland clans led by the chief of Clan Donald the Lord of the Isles.



16th Century & Anglo-Scottish Wars

In the 16th century during the Anglo-Scottish Wars the Clan Skene fought against the English at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513 where their chief was slain.

The Clan Skene also fought against the English at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547 where their chief was killed. Clan chiefs from Clan Colquhoun, Clan Hunter, Clan MacFarlane and Clan Farquharson were also killed. A good clan chief was expected to lead by example and this meant being first into battle. Because of the awful number of Scottish lives lost at this battle the 10th of September is remembered in Scotland as Black Saturday.

The Clan Skene supported the Clan Gordon at the Battle of Corrichie which took place around Meikle Tap in 1562, between George Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntley and James Stuart, the new Earl of Moray (half-brother to Mary Queen of Scots). Gordon was killed and his son, Sir John, and other members of his family were later executed at Aberdeen. The chief of Clan Skene survived but his youngest son and many of his kinsmen were killed.

Another prominent branch of the family was the Skenes of Curriehill. Sir John Skene of Curriehill was a prominent sixteenth-century lawyer who was appointed to the Supreme Court Bench in 1594, taking the title, ‘Lord Curriehill’. He was knighted by James VI, and his son was created a Baronet of Nova Scotia in 1626. Sir John’s 2nd son, John Skene of Hallyards, also rose to high judicial office as the Lord Clerk Register.



17th Century & Civil War

During the Civil War the Skenes supported the Royalist cause of King Charles I. As a result they were forced into exile. The chief and his clan took service with the Swedish armies under King Gustav Adolphus.



Clan Castle and Seat

The lands of Skene and the part 18th century Skene Castle are located in the Gordon district of Aberdeenshire. In 1827 the last chief of the direct line died. All of the family estates then passed to his nephew the Earl of Fife whose family hold them to this day.



Clan Chief

Danus Skene of Skene.



Clan Septs

Septs of the Clan Skene include: Cariston, Dyce, and Hallyard.

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