As the legend is told…
In the reign of King Kenneth III, about the year 980, the Danes invaded Scotland and a fierce battle ensued at Luncarty. The Danes broke through one of the wings of the Scots army, and the Scots soldiers fled in confusion and fear.
A countryman named Hay and his two sons, plowing in a field nearby, saw this happen. The father, commanding his sons to follow with their implements, snatched up an ox-yoke as a weapon and barred the way of the fleeing Scots soldiers. He and his two sons led them back into battle and they triumphed over the Danes.
The King marched with the man and his sons back to Perth in great honor. The King commanded that a falcon be let off from Kinnoull Hill and as far as it flew, the land would belong to the hero and his sons. The falcon’s flight was long and wide and it finally came to rest on what became known as Hawk’s Stone. This encompassed some of the best land in the Carse of Gowrie, so overnight the peasant became a powerful man.
Kinnoull Hill, Perthshire, Scotland
Hawk's Stone, Perthshire, Scotland
The Hay Coat of Arms displays three bloodstained shields for the father and his two sons, the falcon, and the ox-yoke.
Clan Hay Coat of Arms
The Hay Clan motto is Serva Jugum. It is Latin for “Keep the Yoke” and comes from the legend of one man and his two sons using farming implements to redirect the fleeing Scottish soldiers back to a victorious battle against the Danish invaders.
I am Scottish through my father’s side and this legend is part of our rich clan history. We knew the Clan Hay motto before we knew the legend behind it and I always thought it was kind of lame. A coupld of years ago when my sister came up with a great idea to put together a Clan Hay history book for my Dad's birthday and asked for my help, we unearthed the legend (equally together the help of Google - except it was Julie's idea and her initial research and I just expanded upon her research) and it become very poignant to me.
We’re adopting this ancient clan motto as our modern family motto. I’m not even sure if that’s anything new since the motto stands, but it’s a new focus in our family.
To me, Keep the Yoke means to be faithful, to be strong, to keep fighting, to endure. When all seems lost, take up all you have, all you know, and stand side-by-side with your family stalwart and steadfast, never yielding, and turn the tides of the battle. Keep the Yoke is a reminder that three peasants changed the fate of a nation and that—with determination and action—I can do similar things.