Tartan Tuesdays - Clan Armstrong

Tartan Tuesdays - Clan Armstrong
By Sophie 1 years ago 1589 Views No comments

The tartan pictured is our Armstrong Ancient, 16oz, Pure New Wool Tartan. To purchase this tartan click here:


To take a look at other variants of the Armstrong Tartan, click here: https://www.scotweb.co.uk/tartan?filter_searchterm=armstrong


The Armstrong name has a mythological origin, in that it is said their heroic progenitor, Fairbairn, saved his king of Scotland in battle, and not from a wild beast as is the case with another Border clan - the Turnbulls. It is said that, dressed in full armour, he lifted the king onto his own horse with one arm after the horse had been killed under him in battle. The family crest, an arm clinched, records this act of heroism that was said to have been rewarded with a grant of lands in the Borders region and the famous Armstrong name.

The first specific reference locating them in Liddesdale, which would become their family seat, is in 1376. Liddesdale was also the seat of their unquestioned power in the region that allowed them to expand into Annandale and Eskdale to accommodate their growing population. It is reputed that by 1528 they were able to put 3000 horsemen in the field.

The Armstrongs' relationship with subsequent Scottish kings was turbulent to say the least. The most notorious event in this uneasy relationship occurred in 1530. John Armstrong, known in history as, was persuaded to attend a meeting at Carlingrigg with King James V who, unknown to Gilnockie, had the malicious intent to silence the rebellious Borderers. The ruse succeeded as Gilnockie and fifty followers were captured.

The Royal order to hang them was issued and despite several pleas for the King to be lenient in exchange for obedience, it was carried out. Defiant to the last, Gilnockie said these words directly to King James V:

'I am but a fool to seek grace at a graceless face, but had I known you would have taken me this day, I would have lived in the Borders despite King Harry and you both.'

His defiance is commemorated and echoed in the soulful popular Border ballad, Johnie Armstrong:

'Farewell! my bonny Gilnock

Where on Esk side thou standest stout

I had lived but seven yeirs mair

I wad a gilt thee round about

John Murdered was at Carlinrigg

And all his gallant companie;

But Scotland's heart was ne'er sae wae' To see sae mony brave men die.'

Armstrong tartan

In 1587 an act was passed by the Scottish parliament, for the quieting and keeping in obedience of the inhabitants of the Borders, Highland and Isles, That contained a roll of Chieftains and clans that confirms the status of Border families as an important part of clan history, and the Armstrongs as perhaps the most significant Border clan.

The clan's authority resided intact at Mangerton in Liddesdale, a succession of Armstrongs retaining the “Laird of Mangerton" title, until 1610 when Archibald Armstrong was “put to the horn" as a rebel. After this, the Armstrong lands passed into the hands of the Scotts.

The clan is currently represented by the Clan Armstrong Trust in the Scottish border region. No clan chief currently exists.

Clan Castles

Gilnockie Tower is the home of the Clan Armstrong and houses the Clan Armstrong Centre.

Above: Gilnockie Tower, below: Map of Gilnockie Tower location

Gaelic Name

MacGhilliel' idir (Surname)

Clann 'icGhillel' idir (Collective)


The Armstrong Clan motto: is "Invictus maneo" which means "I remain unvanquished".

Noted allies of Clan Armstrong are:

Clan Elliot, Clan Nixon and Clan Moffat.

Neil Armstrong

Perhaps the most famous of the Armstong clan was Neil Alden Armstrong, who was an American astronaut and the first person to walk on the Moon. He was also an aerospace engineer, naval aviator, test pilot, and university professor. Before he became an astronaut, Armstrong was an officer in the U.S Navy and served in the Korean War. After the war, he earned his bachelor's degree at Purdue University and served as a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) High-Speed Fligh Station, where he logged over 900 flights. He later completed graduate studies at theUniversity of Southern California.

A participant in the U.S Airforce's Man in Space Soonest and X-20 Dyna-Soar human spaceflight programs, Armstrong joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1962. He made his first space flight as command pilot of Gemini 8 in March 1966, becoming NASA's first civilian astronaut to fly in space. He performed the first docking of two spacecrafts, with pilot David Scott. This mission was aborted after Armstrong used some of his reentry control fuel to prevent a dangerous spin caused by a stuck thruster, in the first in-flight space emergency.

Armstrong's second and last spaceflight was as commander of Apollo 11, the first manned Moon landing mission in July 1969. Armstrong and Lunar Module pilot Buxx Aldrin descended to the lunar surface and spent two and a half hours outside the spacecraft, while Michale Collins remained in lunar orbit in the Command/ Service Module. Along with Collins and Aldrin, Armstrong was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon. President Jimmy Carter presented Armstrong the Congressional Space Medal of Honour in 1978. Armstrong and his former crew mates received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.

Armstrong died in Cincinnati, Ohio, on August 25, 2012, at the age of 82, after complications from coronary artery bypass surgery.