Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Kerr: Left handed spiral legends

For my Kerr and Carr readers – The Januarist Past and Present has an interesting article about Clan Kerr and The Legend of the Left Handed Spiral Staircase.

Kerrs were known as fierce left handed warriors who defended their castles with dexterous swordmanship on left handed spiral staircases (or so the story goes….)  (see my list of posts about this below)

But the Kerrs were aye the deadliest foes
That e’er to Englishmen were known
For they were all bred left handed men
And fence [defence] against them there was none

(Attributed to James Hogg in The Raid of Kerrs)

The Januarist article shows visuals of how the staircases would appear.

Ferniehirst Castle (the Kerr castle in Scotland) apparently has a left handed staircase but as noted in my previous posts a 1993 study of lefthandedness revealed no significant increase in this trait in the Kerr/Carr families.

Related Posts:

Are you a Left Handed Kerr or Carr? – the most commented post on this blog!

Serendipity DNA – the story of our Kerr DNA match.

Google Scholar:  Left Handed Kerrs and Carrs


One Response to “Kerr: Left handed spiral legends”
  1. Gary Kerr says:

    Hi Joan,

    Several years ago I had an opportunity to travel in the Borders area os Scotland for 3 weeks and found out a lot of local history about the Kerr’s.
    I visited Ferniehirst Castle and Monteiviot House which are still owned and occupied by the Earl (Viscount) of Lothian, who is a Kerr, as wll as nearby Floors Castle which is among several owned by the Duke of Roxborough (also a Ker).
    These are some of the largest land owners in Scotland and are related by marriage to the Duke of Buccleugh, who is reputed to be the largest land owner and also the wealthiest man in Scotland.
    One interesting story was told to me by a retired Church of Scotland Minister in the town of Cold Stream, who related an incident which had happened sometime in the 1600`s when Ferniehirst Castle was seized after a battle and was occuopied by a group of English soldiers.who committed a number of atrocities in the area.
    The Kerr`s formed an alliance with a group of French soldiers to retake the castle and defeated the English. As a punishment for the crimes the English had committed and also as a warning to others who might wish to attempt another attack, the Kerr`s lopped of the heads of the English and played polo with the severed heads.
    Even today the local children play a game of soccer using ribbons attached to soccer balls to simulate the hair of the English soldiers.
    The Scootish Minister advised me “Gary, I think you should know that your ancestors were not very nice People“.
    I think this warlike attitude and the favor of the Scottish Kings is what enabled them to be able to accumulate the lands which their heirs now possess.
    Please contact me furthe as I have agood deal of information on the Kerr background as both my parents were Kerrs (not related). My father`s side is from Scotland and my mother`s family immigrated to Canada from Ireland (but no doubt originated in Scotland many years prior).

    Gary Kerr
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

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