Ancient Lands

Clan Oliphant was once situate in the area now known as Kincardineshire (also known as the Mearns.) Donald Holifard was shipwrecked on the East coast of Scotland in the 9th Century. Initially, it may be assumed that Donald, and his descendants, received lands in this area through marriage or by becoming an ally to a family who already held land in the area. However, eventually, the Olifard family became the hereditary sheriffs of the Mearns and were probably thus granted land by the ancient Kings of Scotland.

Oliphants owned at least 3 tracts of land in the Mearns: Glenbervie, where Duncan Olifard is recorded and was buried; Arbuthnot, which name is a combination of the Gaelic 'Aber' meaning, the joining of two streams and, Buthenoth meaning, of healing power.

The Glenbervie lands are believed to have passed to the Oliphants through Duncan's marriage with Helen Hassa (in the early 11th century), the daughter of Hew Hassa, who came upon the lands through his marriage to Germuda Dervise, the heiress of Glenbervie. The town of Glenbervie is located between Auchinblae and Drumlithie, about 5 miles north of Laurencekirk.
The Glenbervie lands passed to the Melvilles, with which Clan the Oliphant tartan has been lumped by authorities on tartans and, whose chiefs to this day carry a differenced quartering of the Oliphant arms in theirs, through a female heir. This seems to be the only link between the two families, a link that has been exaggerated to the point where some misinformed sources say the Oliphants are a sept of the Melvilles.


The lands of Arbuthnot were granted to Osbert Olifard, known as "the Crusader" for his famous and valiant exploits in the Holy Wars, in which he later died with Godfrey of Bologna. These lands were granted in approximately 1178 reportedly as a knights fee by King William the Lion to Osbert, for the Oliphant family already held lands in that area, and had a close association with Scotland's Royal Family (see Early History). Osbert left his nephew Walter as the temporary keeper and executor of the lands, until Osbert's daughter married Hugh de Swinton (a kinsman of the Earl of March, and who was descended from an ancient Saxon noble family), to whom the lands passed. Their son, Duncan, took the name Arbuthnot from the lands, and was the progenitor of the Clan Arbuthnot.


Clan Arbuthnott Crest

Although these lands are the only specific lands on record held by the Oliphant Clan, it is known that the early Oliphant's held other lands by the royal park of Kincardine Palace but their exact location is unknown. They probably controlled the use of even more, as they built up a close association with the ancient Kings of Scotland, along with their role as protectors of the area.

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