May 2014

In this Issue:

 Origins of Clan Grant  Coming Events
 Meet Our Members  May Celebrations
 Flowers of the Forest  Society Officers
 St. Giles Cathedral - Part 1  

Origins of Clan Grant

The origin of Clan Grant is not known for sure.  Some claim that because of the three gold antique crowns on a red ground in their coat of arms, the Grants originated in Scandinavia.  Others claim that the clan is Norman in origin, dating from the invasion of 1066 when William the Conqueror defeated Harold to claim the English crown.  Back then, these Norman Grants were known as Le Graunts—hence the names of Granchester and Grantham in England.

Some research suggests that the ancestors of the Grants originated with one Griotgard of Yriar.  This was an area at the mouth of Trondheim fjord in Norway. Griotgard's ancestry is not completely clear, but there are some who claim him as an ancestor of the kings of East Anglia.  The kings had as their arms three gold crowns, but on a blue ground.

Griotgard's great grandson was Hakon the Great, who ruled Norway from 970 to 995.  Hakon's son Eric and Eric's son Hakon went to England to help Canute rule.  Hakon died early.  His son Heming found himself exiled from England by Edward the Confessor and then landless in Ireland after Dairmit overran Dublin in 1052.  Heming's sons both came to Scotland.  Swein, the younger, was the progenitor of the Ruthvens; the elder Olav (or Amlaim, in Irish) became the progenitor of all the so-called "Siol Alpin."

Olav was highly placed in Scottish society.  His second son was a progenitor of the MacGregors and his third son of the Mackinnons.  Olav's heir, Patrick, was in the line which became the Grants.

In all cases, the adoption of surnames and the development of the clans came some generations later.  The Grant surname came into existence in the late 1100s.  In 1174, Shaw MacDuff, to whom these early Grants were beholden, installed Allan as forerunner of the sheriff of Inverness.  It was Allan who adopted the surname Grant.  He is considered to be the first clan chief.  The clan made an alliance through marriage with the Bruce-allied Stewarts and prospered through the 1400s.

To this point, the name Grant applied to the blood descendents of the chiefs and their families, but in 1493 when James III required the clans to support him at the siege of Berwick, the bulk of the clansmen took the surname of their chief.  From that date, it is useful to think in terms of Clan Grant.

Meet Our Members

David McBee - Board Member

David McBee

David lives in Gilbert, Arizona and works in Technology Systems Management and Design.  He joined the Society in November 2012 to meet other people of Scottish heritage in the valley and support his clan and the Highland Games.  His clan is Clan McBain.   He says, "As a child of orphans, I did not know my clan affiliation until I met Chief McBain at our Highland Games four years ago."

David has been Games Chair for the Children's area and now is serving as Treasurer of the Society. 

Favorite Society Memory:  "My favorite times with the Society are those that involve laughter and big hugs"


Len Wood - Long Term Member

Leonard Wood plays and teaches bagpipes.  He is currently teaching fire departments in Mesa, Chandler and Apache Junction as well as a number of students who take private lesson from him.  Len is also the Pipe Major of the Phoenix Pipe Band.

Len started in piping with the Adirondack Pipe Band in Glens Falls, NY and at 14 moved with his family to Phoenix where he joined the Phoenix Scottish Pipe Band in 1961.  After trying to find a pipe band for instruction, his folks took him to a performance of the band at a home builder's open house.  When asking the Pipe Major if he could continue his tuition and attend practices, Pipe Major Glen Moore said, "You can come to practices, but if there's any foolishness, you're out."  As the only kid in the band, there was no foolishness, at least not on Len's part.  After a few years Len was in Glen's position of Pipe Major and hopes he was a little less gruff when asked by kids if they could take lessons with the band.

Sometime around 1966 the Phoenix Scottish Pipe Band played for the Arizona Scottish Society's Burns Supper.  At that function one of the members stood up and said, "Why can't we have Highland Games like those in Santa Monica, CA."  The band's teacher at that time was Jock Sneddon and Jock said, "So, why don't you?"  For some time everyone remained quiet on the subject and all thought of it was dropped.  Later, Len called the president of Arizona Scottish Society and asked what they were going to do about a Highland Games and a few of the members responded with a meeting to discuss it.  Henry Kirkwood took up the mantel, chairing the future event and by March a picnic at Encanto Park became the forerunner of the today's Arizona Highland Games.  The next year, full-fledged contests in Piping, Highland Dancing and some athletic events were added.  Len remembers flying to Los Angeles for a meeting of the Pacific Coast Pipe Band Association to show them what had been done for games in Encanto Park and to seek their help.  He was informed that he had already broken their rules by using non association judges and for not applying for sanctioning.  All was given in a light hearted manner and all was forgiven.

In 1970 Len joined the US Navy and was stationed in San Diego for boot camp and tech schools.  While there he played with the Cameron Highlanders of San Diego and had the very good fortune to meet piper Kathy Shappee.  Three years later Len and Kathy were married and for 35 years played pipes and taught pipers in Charleston, SC., Savannah and Atlanta, GA and finally here in Phoenix starting in 1998.  Kathy died from Ovarian Cancer in 2008.

Len will be the first to say that Piping has given him far more than he could have ever asked for.  "You meet some of the best people while playing bagpipes.  Among them the good folks of the Caledonian Society of AZ."

Lori Cameron - New Member

Lori CameronLorraine (Lori) MacDonald Cameron lives in Phoenix, Arizona.  She is the owner of Interlock Arizona and Arizona Special Inspections Group LLC.  She joined the Caledonian Society in November 2013.  Her clan association is with Campbell, MacDonald, Macmillan and Cameron plus other less direct connections.  She has held the position of Co-Chair of the Robert Burns Dinner.

Her reason for joining the Society:  "I was born in Glasgow, my family are from the Islands and Highlands.  Joining the Caledonian Society is my way of staying in touch with my heritage, culture and the fellowship when surrounded by the Scottish/Celtic community.

Her favorite memory of her time in the Society is Addressing the Haggis at the 2014 Burns dinner and "slaying" the haggis with David's dirk.

Flowers of the Forest

We extend our deepest sympathies to David McNabb and his family on the death of his mother.

St. Giles Cathedral - Part 1

St. Giles CathedralThe Royal Mile is probably Edinburgh's oldest street.  In 1723, Daniel Defoe described it as "the largest, longest and finest street for buildings and number of in inhabitants, not only in Britain, but in the world."  The Royal Mile connects the Castle to the Palace of Holyrood.  Along the way it passes Parliament House, John Knox house and many of the Capital's other historic buildings including St. Giles Cathedral.

The Great High Kirk of Edinburgh has watched over the street in silent witness as 900 years of Scottish history unfolding on its doorstep.  Its famous crown steeple dominates the Old Town skyline. 

As early as 854 there was a Christian church in Edinburgh.  However, it seems that it wasn't until the early 12th century that a church was built where the cathedral now stands.  Historians are unsure why this church was dedicated to St. Giles.  Born in Athens around 640, he became the patron saint of lepers, beggars and cripples, and spent the last years of his life in France where he founded a monastery.  Churches in Scotland were traditionally dedicated to Scottish or Irish saints.  Nevertheless, St. Giles it was—the connection reinforced in 1562 when Sir William Preston of Gorton gave the church an arm bone said to belong to the much-venerated saint. 

Like many structures in medieval Scotland, the first St. Giles church was a victim of skirmishes and warfare.  In 1385 St. Giles was burned during an attack by an English army.  Only the entrance porch, nave and the base of the spire were spared.  Work began in 1387 to rebuild the church.  The contract with the masons stipulated that they were to build five chapels with pillars and vaulted roof, and that they were to be "lighted with windows."  Over the next 150 years, work continued on the church.  A number of chapels were added.  Indeed, at one point there were nearly 50 alters in the church. 

As the protestant Reformation swept the old religious order away, the jurisdiction and authority of the pope in Scotland was abolished; and the Protestant Confession of Faith was accepted.  Indeed, St. Giles in inextricably linked with the Reformation.  John Knox, a towering figure in Scottish history and widely regarded as the father of the Scottish Reformation, was the minister of St. Giles from 1559 to 1572. 

The Reformation also brought physical changes to the building.  With the new order came a determination to sweep away all the signs of the old ways.  Many of the alters were ripped out.  Gold, silver and other valuables were catalogued and removed.  Even the arm bone of St. Giles was stripped of its silver mountings and discarded in the rubbish. All the tombstones were taken out and the church's interior was white-washed.  With all its finery gone, it must have seemed an austere and desolate place.        

Coming Events

May 8 Membership Meeting & Pub Crawl
May 10-11 Prescott Games
May 17-18 Albuquerque Games
June 12 Membership Meeting
June 28-29 San Diego Games

SOCIETY MEETING Regular membership meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ. Beginning at 6:30 pm. Come join us or log on to

May Celebrations
If you would like your special date recognized in our monthly newsletter, we need to hear from you. Please let us know your correct birthday and anniversary information by email to and it will be included in our Celebration list.

May 2 Kay Morneau - Birthday
May 22 Sandy Anderson - Birthday
May 25 Dennis Kavanaugh - Anniverary
May 31 James Weber - Birthday

Caledonian Society Officers
President: Mark Clark
Past President: (2010 – 2012) Jean Latimer
Vice President, & Membership Chair Don Finch
Secretary: Thom Von Hapsburg
Treasurer: David McBee
Games Chair
Paul Bell
Trustee 1: Mark Pelletier
Trustee 2: Michelle Crownhart

Newsletter Editor:

Jo Ramsdell