About the Clan Keith

“No Scottish house, amid all the glorious traditions of Highland clans and Lowland families, has a more honourable record than that of Keith. For 700 years it held the position of Marischal of Scotland; its titles of honour were unique in being taken not from territorial possessions, but from the high office of State.

There is honourable pride in the explanation that, if, in comparison with others, the Keiths were few in the number of cadet families, and behind in the boast of a “pridefu’ kin”, the reason was that “Having been in every action, and by virtue of their office of Marischal present at every battle, the males were seldom allowed to increase to any considerable number”

Scottish Review October 1898

The Keith motto is “Veritas Vincit” which means “Truth prevails”.

The earliest record of the motto “Veritas Vincit” is on a flag carried at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.

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Chief’s crest:

The Keith Chief’s crest is a roe buck’s head with gilded antlers emerging out of an earl’s coronet.

Clansman’s badge is the Chief’s crest encircled with a strap and buckle bearing the motto “Veritas Vincit”.

The strap and buckle is the sign of the clansman, and (s)he demonstrates membership of the Chief’s Clan by wearing his Chief’s Crest within it.

The clansman’s crest badge may be worn and displayed by all those who profess allegiance and wish to demonstrate their association with the Clan Keith.

Standard of the Chief of the Name and Arms of Keith, 14th Earl of Kintore

The Shield

The devices on a shield are termed “charges”. The simplest charges are geometrical shapes, which are referred to as honourable ordinaries. The important charge here is a “chief”.

A chief is a horizontal charge occupying the top one-third of the shield.

On the Keith shield, the charge is seven red and gold “pale” (pronounced “par lay”) above a white shield. This is nick-named “Keith fire and ice”.

“Argent on a Chief Gules three Pallets Or” i.e., a white shield with three vertical gold stripes on a red background.


The tartan is “Keith and Austin”

There are both Ancient and Modern versions.

Clan Keith members mainly wear the Ancient, in part because the darker modern tartan is difficult to distinguish.

The Earls Marischal

The Earls Marischal: Power, Political Influence and Patriotism in Scotland. The narrative of the Keith family in Scottish political and social history is one of power, political influence and patriotism.

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The Legend and Tradition of the Keiths

The Earls Marischal: Power, Political Influence and Patriotism in Scotland. The narrative of the Keith family in Scottish political and social history is one of power, political influence and patriotism.

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A Question of Religion

George Keith, the fifth earl is barely known today. If identified at all it is as the founder in 1593 of Aberdeen’s second university, Marischal College. Marischal was a major actor in the Protestant Reformation of 1560 and the turmoil of the Marian Civil War.

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Clan Keith Connection to Robert Burns

Although Robert Burns is remembered most for his association with Ayrshire in the South West of Scotland he is bound by ties of ancestry to the North East, to the Keiths Marischal and to Dunnottar and Fetteresso.

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Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle is a ruined medieval fortress located upon a rocky headland on the north-eastern coast of Scotland, about 3 kilometres south of Stonehaven spread over 1.4 hectares surrounded by steep cliffs that drop to the North Sea 50 metres below. A narrow strip of land joins the headland to the mainland, along which a steep path leads up to the gatehouse. The buildings within the castle include the 14th-century tower house as well as the 16th-century palace. Dunnottar Castle was the principal seat of the Keith Mariscal dynasty from 1392 until its sacking by Cromwell’s forces in 1652.

Dunnottar is best known as the place where the Honours of Scotland, the Scottish crown jewels, were hidden from Oliver Cromwell’s invading army in the 17th century.

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The Modern Clan Keith

Following World War II, a wave of clan and society activity was aided by formation of a “Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs”. For the British Festival of 1951, a “Council of Clan Associations” was formed to handle Scotland’s pageant and Gathering of the Clans in Edinburgh. The now familiar arrangement of tents and marquees resurrecting pageantry of medieval times and the march of the clans were displayed to fifty thousand visitors from many nations. Can societies proliferated near and far. By 1970, there were over fifty.

In America, affiliates the clan, having no similar vehicle for the purpose formed Clan Keith Society USA in 1970.

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The Dress of a Thief

Much said and written about tartans in the 18th century is unfounded, especially in regard to the tartan adopted by Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army in the 1745-46 Rising in Scotland. The famous painting by David Morier, showing…

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