(Holifard, Olifant)
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Oliphant Tartan
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Oliphant Tartan

The Oliphants can trace their roots back to the Norseman Donald Holifard who was ship-wrecked on the East Coast of Scotland in the 9th Century. The name probably derives from the Norse Olaf, possibly modified by the Mediaeval Latin Olifantus meaning 'elephant', following an encounter with this animal during the Crusades. A descendant, Roger Olifard, was the Sheriff of the Mearns in the late 10th Century. David Olifard saved the life of King David I at the Battle of Winchester in 1141. Sir William Oliphant defended Stirling Castle during the Wars of Independence and was a signatory of the Declaration of Arbroath. His son Sir Walter Oliphant of Aberdalgie married the youngest daughter of Robert the Bruce and gained the lands of Gask in Perthshire. His descendant Sir Laurence Oliphant was raised to the peerage as Lord Oliphant. The 2nd Lord Oliphant was killed at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, while the 3rd was captured by the English in 1542. The 4th Lord Oliphant supported Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87). He was involved in the intrigue surrounding the murder of Lord Darnley and stayed loyal, fighting alongside his Queen at her last stand - the Battle of Langside in 1568. Another Lord Oliphant was involved in the Ruthven Raid of 1582 and as a result was banished by King James VI (1566 - 1625).

The Oliphants of Gask were noted Jacobites and a daughter of that house was the poet, Lady Carolina Nairne (1766 - 1845). Margaret Oliphant (1828-97) was a prodigious authoress.

Their clan centre was at Hatton Castle in Angus, although this was sold in 1996.

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