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Insignia of the Chiefly Office

R.R. McIan's Victorian era
romanticised depiction of a
Macdonald, lord of the Isles
bearing his Clan Sword.

According to "Clans, Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands" p. 113 [Adam & Innes], the Clan Insignia (Clan Sword and White Rod) are symbols of an ancient representation of the Scottish clan chief’s judicial authority and power vested in them by the Sovereign, through the Court of the Lord Lyon.  

These symbols (or "Insignia") are founded on ancient Celtic tradition, and have not only been historically used by Scottish clans, but also used by the Crown to represent their power and authority. 

To the left is a medieval depiction of Robert II of Scotland, with both the sword and rod in hand.

The insignia are used primarily during Chiefly investiture ceremonies. 

The Insignia are so held in trust by the Society for the benefit of the entire Clan Strachan, including it's eventual Representor [of the “clan eponymus” (common ancestor)].  This being the Commander or Chief recognized by the Sovereign of Scotland, through the Court of the Lord Lyon.

The Clan Sword

The Clan Sword, anciently, represented the Chief’s power of life and death over their clansmen.   In modern times, the sword simply represents the Chief’s legitimate power as provided under Scots Law over their clan as authorized by the Sovereign through the Court of the Lord Lyon.

As shown above, the Clan Sword is a sharpened and battle-ready Scottish Basket-Hilt Broadsword, and the traditional weapon of the highland clansman.  In particular, it was known to have been a popular weapon at the battle of Culloden Moor.  Many Strachans fought at Culloden certainly under the Jacobite flag as is well documented, and also likely (albeit as yet unproved) under the government flag.  A certain Jacobite sympathizer, John Strachan, died at Culloden Moor and is prominently mentioned today at the Culloden Moor Visitor Centre.

The sword's long, two-edged blade and distinctive basket hilt, when combined with targe and dirk has proven to be more than a match for enemy soldiers on battlefields the world over.  It is hand forged and beautifully polished with triple fullers. The stout basket hilt is made of blued steel with a wood grip covered in samé (ray skin) and decoratively wrapped in wire.

The Clan Strachan broadsword passes the stringent British Proof test (a certificate is on file in the Clan Strachan Society library), and comes with a wood and leather scabbard that's complemented by blued steel chape and throat.

Its blade is made of 1055 carbon steel with an overall length of 37 ¾ inches (blade length is 31 ½ inches).

The Clan may choose to add a jewel or gem to the sword’s hilt, scabbard, or other element every generation to ensure the wealth of the clan is maintained in the future.  

The sword is owned by the Clan in the custody of the Clan Strachan Charitable Trust, and it is within the Chief’s privy (as the Representor of the Clan) to appoint the Sword Bearer who is charged with its ceremonial safekeeping. 

The White Rod (‘An Slat Bhan’):

‘An Slat Bhan’, a straight white rod, represents a clan chief's judicial authority over their clan as authorized by the Sovereign of Scotland and so recognized by the Court of the Lord Lyon. It is required to be both white and straight -- the colour representing purity and the straightness of justice.

The Clan Strachan White Rod was custom hand-crafted by artist Kevin Brady in 2013, and is made of Hard Maple.  It is 30-32 inches long, and embedded in the sterling silver head is the crest badge of the legal Representor of Clan Strachan.  The mid-section is hand-carved open spiral lattice design to represent its ancient Celtic origins.  The three segments that make up the length of the shaft are conjoined with two sterling silver trim bands (or bezels). 

The endcap (or "Filial") is also Sterling Silver and consists of a dark blue Amethyst cap stone, which represents the primary livery colour of ancient chiefly Strachan armorial bearings (e.g. Azure).  

The White Rod is properly held on the top third shaft as the head makes the rod top heavy.

The White Rod is owned by the Clan and placed in the custody of the Clan Strachan Charitable Trust who maintains custody of The White Rod for the Seannachie who is charged with its safekeeping.  It is within the Chief’s privy (as the Representor of the Clan) to appoint the Seannachie.  "An~Seannachie" is a hereditary office within the Clan.  The Seannachie is summarily recognized as a Chieftain.   

Inauguration of the Chief

The Clan Sword and White Rod are the two principal props used in the Chief's inauguration ceremony. 

During Chiefly investiture ceremonies, the Seanachaidh, as inaugurator, commands the Clan Sword Bearer to bring forth the clan sword to be delivered along with the body-guard to the Seanachaidh, who in turn delivers the sword and rod to the “eldest cadet” [Tanist] entitled to hold the insignia for the time being.  Upon investiture, the Tanist presents the Clan Insignia to the Chief.  Albeit the Chief takes custody of both the Clan Sword and the White Rod during the investiture ceremony, the Seanachaidh holds the White Rod during official clan proceedings just as the Clan Sword Bearer maintains possession of the Clan Sword during proceedings.   Both the Seanachaidh and Sword Bearer are considered part of the Chief's Personal Escort if individually armigerous.

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