The first Hunters arrived in Ayrshire in the opening years of the 12th century, having come over from northern France after the Norman Conquest of England. Experts in hunting and fieldcraft with generations of experience in the forests of Europe, these Norman lords were invited north by King David I of Scotland who was himself brought up in the Norman court.
The earliest reference to the Hunters living at Hunterston in official documents emerges in an Inquisition, a Court of Law held in the King’s presence in 1116. We find mention of Willielmo Venator, William the Hunter, now regarded as the first Laird, and Royal Huntsman Praefectus Venatorus Regis to the Kings and Queens of Scotland. The Hunter family are fortunate to have an ancient parchment charter still in their possession confirming a grant of land at Huntarstoune and Ardneil (near West Kilbride) dated 1374, with a rent of a silver penny only to be paid on request to the Crown.
There is very recent evidence that the lands at Hunterston were inhabited since very early times. Iron and Bronze Age relics have been unearthed andrecently foundations of an early wooden fort have been discovered by archaeologists on the Hunterston Sands. This sheltered foreshore would have provided a safe natural beach from where to launch and land boats. As we know, much of the early contact between communities in olden days occurred by sea and there was trading all along the coast of Britain from the far north to the tip of Cornwall.
In 1826 two local farm workers were digging a ditch near the foreshore a few miles south of where the Battle of Largs took place in 1263. They uncovered a large metal ornament crafted in a distinctive Celtic style which was thought to have been worn by a mortally wounded Viking, Jarl Malbrigda fleeing the battle scene. We know his name as he had inscribed it on the back of the brooch.
This magnificent hand crafted solid silver brooch inlaid with gold filigree still takes pride of place at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, nearly 200 years since its discovery. Named after the location of its find, the Hunterston Brooch displays the astonishing skill and craftsmanship of Scottish craftsmen.
Madam Pauline Hunter of Hunterston is the present Chief of Clan Hunter and represents the 30th generation of Lairds that have lived at Hunterston. Madam Pauline devotes much of her time to promoting the proud heritage and culture of Scotland to a wide diaspora of Clan Hunter family members and their relatives spread across the global domain. In the tradition of Scotland’s most successful export, making the genealogical connections for these peoples signifcantly contributes to the value of Scotland’s history.
Source: Clan Hunter Scotland