Huntly Castle

Mary, Queen of Scots Home Page

The frontispiece is a carefully considered arrangement of heraldic and symbolical panels. As the eye ascends, it is led successively from lower themes to higher. It begins with the noble lord, George Gordon, and his lady, Henrietta Stewart. Above their arms are those of their sole earthly overlord, King James VI and his Danish Queen, Anne. Above this again is a depiction of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Our Lord. Finally, at the summit of the whole majestic composition, the St Michael group portrays the final triumph of Good over Evil on the day of the Last Judgement.

The first panel formerly had Christ as glory within a circle accompanied by the proclamation Divina Virtute Resurcio, "I rise again with Divine Power". On one side is the Scottish lion and on the other the twin-headed eagle of the Holy Roman Empire. These emblems are a reminder that Scotland claimed to be in her own right an imperial power, whose mythical monarch, Achatus, had negotiated a treaty on equal terms with the Emperor Charlemagne. Above all is the figure of St Michael, the warrior archangel triumphing over Satan. St Michael was the patron saint of the French Order of St Michael which the marquis received from King Henry IV of France in 1594.

The second panel originally contained the Five Wounds of Christ (the pierced heart, hands and feet) with the instruments of His Passion, and two supporting figures, probably St Mary and St John, or alternatively, St Peter and St James. Above was the text, "God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ". All these subjects were defaced by Captain James Wallace, a member of the Covenanting army bastioned here in 1643.

The third panel has the royal arms of Scotland (James VI) beside those of his Queen, Anne of Denmark. The left-hand supporter of the panel is the Scottish unicorn carrying the royal banner while the right-hand supporter is the Danish Wyvern (a fictitious winged monster similar to the dragon) carrying a banner depicting another wyvern. Beneath the shield is the badge of St Andrew and, over all, the royal crown with the royal crest of Scotland and, on either side, the initials IR6 and ARS for Jacobus Rex Sextus and Anna Regina Scotorum. Above this is the royal motto IN DEFENS.

The fourth panel bears the arms of the first marquis and his lady, that is, Gordon and Lennox, side by side. They are supported on the left side by the collared deer-hound of the Gordons, and on the right side by the wolf of Lennox. Above the arms are the Gordon and Lennox family mottoes - BYDAND and AVAND DARLY (Darnley) - and below, the initials GMH and HSMH for George marquis of Huntly and Henrietta Stewart marchioness of Huntly. The coronet at the top of the panel carries both the stag's head crest of the Gordons and the bull's head of Lennox.

On the door lintel are four shields bearing, from left to right, the arms of Huntly; a monogram combining the initials of the 1st marquis and his lady; the arms of Lennox; the date 1602. Between them are deer-hounds - the Huntly supporters.

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