The family of Skene is thought to be an exceptionally early sept of Clan Donnachaidh, from before it adopted the name Robertson.
The Skene clan is known in Gaelic as Siol Sgeine or Clann Donnachaidh Mhar. The traditional origin of the name is found in an eleventh century legend of the Robertsons. It is said that a younger son of Robertson of Struan saved the life of the king by killing a savage wolf with only a small dagger or ‘sgian’. He was rewarded for this deed with a grant of lands in Aberdeenshire, named after the weapon that had brought him such good fortune.
Subsequently the family took their name from their ownership of this land. This story is commemorated in the shield of the Skene chief, which displays three wolves’ heads impaled on daggers or ‘durks’.
The first recorded bearer of the name Skene is John de Skeen, who lived during the reign of Malcolm III.
The clan Skene does not have a record of great fortune in battle, with three clan chiefs being killed on the battlefield at Harlaw, Flodden and also the battle of Pinkie. The unfortunate history of the Skenes culminated in 1827 when the direct line of Skenes of Skene finally died out. All estates of the family then passed to a nephew, the Earl of Fife, whose family holds them to this day.
Skene Clan History