Siol nan Gaidheal
Sìol nan Gàidheal
FounderTom Moore (original form)
Jackie Stokes (current form)
Founded1978[1] (original form)
1997 (current form)
NewspaperFirinn Albannach (1980s)
IdeologyEthnic nationalism[2]
Scottish independence[3]
Official website

Siol nan Gaidheal ([ˈʃiəl̪ˠ nə ˈŋɛː.əl̪ˠ], meaning "Seed of the Gaels") is a minor Scottish ultranationalist[4] and ethnic nationalist group which describes itself as a "cultural and fraternal organisation".[5]

The first incarnation of the group was founded by Tom Moore in 1978, though it became defunct twice and was re-established by Jackie Stokes in 1987 and again in 1997.

Though the group publicly disavows politics, SnG has been variously described by commentators as anywhere from "traditionalist"[6] to "crypto-fascist" or "proto-fascist".[6][7][4] Members of the group have been banned from membership of the mainstream nationalist Scottish National Party since 1982.[8]


The name, properly spelled Sìol nan Gàidheal ([ˈʃiəlˠ̪ nəŋ ˈkɛː.əlˠ̪]), is Scottish Gaelic for Seed of the Gaels. The term sìol has numerous meanings, most commonly translated as "breed, brood, lineage, progeny, seed".[9]


First incarnation (1978–1985)

The first incarnation of Siol nan Gaidheal was founded in 1978 by Tom Moore, a Scot who spent his childhood in the USA.[1] It grew in the immediate aftermath of the 1979 devolution referendum, despite being shunned by the mainstream nationalist SNP, whose ruling executive attempted to ban SnG from the party as early as 1980.[10] In September 1980, the SNP launched an inquiry into the group, with Colin Bell as vice-chairman.[11] SnG was fully proscribed after the SNP's 1982 conference. The 1320 Club, which was banned by the SNP in 1968, merged into SnG in the same year.[12]

Throughout the 1980s, Siol nan Gaidheal published a magazine called Firinn Albannach [sic] (Scottish Truth), which has been described as having a rhetoric which was "anti-communist, neo-fascist and sometimes violent in tone".[13] Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's personal security was stepped up in Scotland after members of SnG tried to accost her outside the Conservative Party conference in Perth in 1982.[14] Some members of SnG formed an unofficial paramilitary wing called Arm nan Gaidheal (AnG; Army of the Gael), which was responsible for a number of petrol bomb attacks in 1982 and 1983.[1] Against the background of internal division and arrests of members, the first incarnation of Siol nan Gaidheal eventually folded in 1985.[15]

Second incarnation (1987–90s)

Siol nan Gaidheal was re-established in 1987 by Jackie Stokes, a member of the Scottish Republican Socialist Party. This second incarnation of the group explicitly rejected violence.[16] By 1988, it was claiming a membership of 300.[13] Its activities included, in 1989, erecting a cairn in memory of Willie McRae—who was sympathetic to SNG, and possibly at one point a member[17]—along with Michael Strathern. By the early 1990s, however, Stokes had suffered a heart attack and then kidney problems, which effectively killed the organisation.[16]

Third incarnation (1997–)

Siol nan Gaidheal and Connolly Society at protest in 2007.
Siol nan Gaidheal and Connolly Society at protest in 2007.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June 2018)

Jackie Stokes eventually re-established Siol nan Gaidheal for a second time in 1997, this time concentrating mainly on its website and online discussion forum.[citation needed] Chapters were set up in the United States of America and in Canada as a focus for the Scottish diaspora in North America.[citation needed] Stokes died on 24 July 2001, leading to a downturn in the group's activity.[citation needed] In May 2006, SnG held its first Ard Fhèis (party annual conference) in 14 years, in Dalwhinnie, Scotland.[citation needed]

Siol nan Gaidheal actively campaigned during the 2014 independence referendum, though the mainstream Yes Scotland campaign distanced itself from SnG.[3] The group made headlines in the run-up to the referendum for heckling Labour MP Jim Murphy on his visits to Dundee and Montrose.[18][3]

On 11 January 2020 the All Under One Banner pro-independence demonstration in Glasgow marched behind a banner badged with the Siol nan Gaidheal symbol.[19]

Aim and ideology

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June 2018)

The Siol nan Gaidheal website summarises its views as follows:

The Siol nan Gaidheal organisation supports the revival of the Folkic traditions of Scotland and the Gaelic and Scots languages.

The land of Scotland from which we as a people and our culture spring, is central to our vision. Sustainable land use is vital for the future of our country. Land must be reclaimed for the benefit of our people.

Siol nan Gaidheal seeks to liberate the Scottish people from the worst excesses of English/British Cultural Imperialism and believes that English people resident in Scotland will integrate into and make a full contribution to the community of Scotland.

SnG will dedicate itself to fulfilling our commitments to our country and people, we will thus not stand idly by and watch our country being used, abused or betrayed by enemies both internal and external. We are content to leave party political action to the Scottish National Party and the forthcoming Scottish Parliament.

SnG exists to promote, safeguard and stimulate a third Scottish Renaissance which will use the best past traditions of Scotland to forge a new Nation which will be an example to the world.

They have been branded as like "proto fascists" by former SNP leader Gordon Wilson.[4]

See also



  1. ^ a b c Neat, Timothy (2012). Hamish Henderson: Poetry Becomes People (1952-2002). Birlinn. ISBN 9780857904874.
  2. ^ "Extreme Scottish nationalists: hunting lapdogs and traitors". Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Gilligan, Andrew (7 September 2014). "Anti-English racists terrorising the No campaign in Scotland". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d "The Scottish National Party at 80". BBC News. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  5. ^ Mitchell, James (2016). Scottish National Party (SNP) Leaders. Biteback Publishing. ISBN 9781785901232.
  6. ^ a b Devine, Tom (2012). The Scottish Nation: A Modern History. ISBN 9780718196738.
  7. ^ McArthur, Colin (2003). Brigadoon, Braveheart and the Scots: Distortions of Scotland in Hollywood Cinema. ISBN 9780857711014.
  8. ^ "History of our Movement". Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  9. ^ Mark, C. (2004). The Gaelic-English Dictionary. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-29761-3
  10. ^ "BACK BITE October 13, 1980". The Herald. 13 October 1980. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  11. ^ Bowd, Gavin (2013). Fascist Scotland: Caledonia and the Far Right. Birlinn. p. 256. ISBN 9781780270524.
  12. ^ Barberis et al, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations, p.409.
  13. ^ a b Barberis, Peter; McHugh, John; Tyldesley, Mike (2003). Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations: Parties, Groups. p. 408.
  14. ^ English, Tom (2010). The Grudge: Scotland vs. England, 1990. ISBN 9781409089377.
  15. ^ Pittock, Murray. The Road to Independence?: Scotland since the Sixties. ISBN 9781861894571.
  16. ^ a b McKay, Ron (28 August 1994). "'White settlers go home'". The Sunday Telegraph. Archived from the original on 5 April 2015.
  17. ^ "The death of Willie Macrae". The Herald. 27 March 1995. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  18. ^ "Settler Watch founder was among hecklers at Jim Murphy's Montrose rally". The Courier. 29 August 2014.
  19. ^ "British PM: If Scotland breaks away, UK will lose its power and magic". Dhaka Tribune. 10 August 2020. Retrieved 6 February 2021.