The year was 1746. Many Scottish families know it well. This year, and the Jacobite Rebellion that failed to return rule of Britain to the Scottish Stuarts, put an end to the centuries-old system of clan rule in Scotland. Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, was beheaded for his involvement in the conflict. As the old man stood before the block at Tower Hill in London, he repeated that popular line about dying for one’s country. Most of all, he was proud to die for his family. But then, the Frasers of Lovat had always been on the front lines for the security of their kin.
This most famous of Frasers, nicknamed the “Old Fox,” held outspoken views about the importance of family. According to Scottish law at the time, family was everything. Although the ties of family have stretched and faded over time, they remain strong. Scottish families can trace their genealogy by name back to a clan with a rich history that is both timeless and modern. Keeping the symbols of a great family alive is just one way to honor those who have fallen, in war and otherwise. In The Light Urns’ line of Family Badge Urns is designed to offer the glory fitting for anyone proud of their clan’s history.
A History of Family
The formal system of clans in Scotland dates back to the 12th Century. The idea of a patriarchal family structure originates much earlier, of course. In the Middle Ages, power in many parts of Europe was regionally limited. Scotland had a number of family clans, each ruled by a designated chief. Even now, although the clans no longer serve as a form of government, the clans are officially recognized by Scottish law. Each clan has a chief, and the larger clans may also have chieftains to represent individual branches.
There are two Clan Frasers in Scotland. Clan Fraser of Lovat is technically a junior branch of Clan Fraser. The original Clan Fraser is based in the Scottish Lowlands near Aberdeen. When a man named Simon Fraser gained some lands near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands, the Fraser of Lovat Clan began. The chiefs of this clan are often called “MacShimi,” which means “Son of Simon” in Gaelic. In fact, many of the clan’s chiefs have also been named Simon.
Although most clans grouped by blood relation, the concept does not translate exactly to the idea of the modern family. Rather, many people living nearby who wanted to show allegiance to a powerful chief might change their names. In the 1730s and 1740s, smaller clans in the highlands west of Inverness took the name Fraser in alliance with the Old Fox.
The Significance of Family Badges
If a name is this important, it may not be surprising to discover that the symbols associated with a powerful family also had importance. Many of the more influential clans had a family badge to signify their prestige. The badge takes on several different representations and it all depends on who wears it. For example, most people who are associated with a clan would wear a badge surrounded by a belt. Generally, the belt indicates that they are entitled to wear the badge but do not rank as a chieftain.
The elements inside the belt set the separate clans apart. The Fraser of Lovat Clan offers a stag. Most clans chose animals or mythical creatures known for their power. The stag is often associated with balanced peace, along with strength. The stag sits on a straight wreath of blue and white, to indicate the colors representative of the clan. The motto of the clan surrounds these images. For the Frasers of Lovat, it says, “Je Suis Prest,” which means “I am ready.” Historically, lots of people have interpreted this motto as a symbol of this clan’s effort in battle. Perhaps Simon “Shimi” Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat, thought of his family’s badge and motto as he led a group of hundreds into battle on D-Day June 6, 1944.
Turning Family Honor into a Lifetime Remembrance with Custom 3D Engraved Urns
Since so many people are proud to feature their family badges, In The Light Urns sought to make an urn to maintain that sense of honor. In 2011, we began a design process that would last more than a year. At first, our lead graphic designer started by recreating the design for the Fraser of Lovat badge. In The Light Urns co-owner Rick Fraser descends from this clan. The process to recreate this badge design was not easy. To be able to recreate the fine points of detail that could then be engraved perfectly into wood took the most time. We went back and forth with multiple software which lead to plenty of trial and error until we were finally happy with the end result. Anyone who looks at the completed Fraser Family Badge Urn, can see how well our hard work payed off. Some of the details are so fine that it would take a magnifying glass for a person with average vision to see them.
After we got down the design part we came across another challenge, finding the best wood for engraving such fine detail. Some of the detail on these badges are so fine that it would take a magnifying glass for a person with average vision to see them. Certain types of wood are more likely to splinter or smudge the detail during the 3D laser engraving process and that would never do for a person’s final rest. Once we found the best type of wood along with the proper software for recreating the badge designs we were ready to start creating some of the more popular clan badges to add to our line of urns. Each badge design created has a custom look special to In The Light Urns, while maintaining the elements common to every family. Even though we feature Scottish badges, we do have the ability to do any type of badge custom to the individual’s personal heritage.
Branching Out Beyond Clan Badges
As we mastered the skill of 3D relief engraving, we realized that there was so much more we could do for customers who wanted engraving with a similar level of detail. From the idea of the Scottish clan badges we decided to create some more honorable urns. The next line of urns we came out with featured the military branches with detailed emblems for the various departments of the military.
With multiple product lines of relief engraved wood cremation urns that we have customized, we started to think about other options to offer even more customization for families. Ultimately, it was this journey that brought us to the next level of 3D design and custom urn creation we offer today. Now, we can engrave on almost any material or build a custom 3D printed object for the perfect urn or memorial that our customers have in mind.
Life begins and ends with family. The ancient history of the Scottish clans shows how family can be unending. The symbols and emblems reflect a dedication to love, honor and service that are worthy of remembrance. In The Light Urns’ Family Badge Urns stand as a visible reflection of that glory.