Danus Skene


"My ambition as Chief is to bring together Skene clansmen worldwide in active fellowship, and to expand an awareness of modern Scotland throughout our global community." – Danus

Danus George Moncrieff Skene was born on 2 April 1944, at Dundee, in Scotland.  At the time, his father Robert William Dugald Skene was away doing his bit for the Allied military effort in Italy.

Danus' mother was born Elizabeth Diana Wolfe Sutherland. The name Wolfe came into her family through the provisions of the will of the bachelor General James Wolfe, who was killed in the hour of his victory in taking Quebec from the French in 1759. He left property in his will to his second-in-command, Diana’s ancestor.  The Sutherlands were originally from Caithness, but Danus' grandfather George Sutherland spent most of his life in India as a successful businessman.

The Skenes had lived since 1683 at Pitlour, in Fife. The beautiful house there was built by the bachelor brothers Robert and Philip Skene in 1784. The family were not the 'Head of Name' of Skene:  the name originated in Aberdeenshire, where the Skenes of Skene lived in the House of Skene.

The Skenes of Pitlour were however descended from Andrew Skene of Auchorie, a younger son of the Skene of Skene of the day, who moved from Aberdeenshire to Fife in about 1600. The Pitlour family knew that they were a senior branch of the family, and that there was no other landowning branch in Scotland following the death of the last of the family of Skene of Skene in Aberdeenshire in 1828.

Danus thus grew up knowing that his family had an ancient pedigree, but assuming that there was no 'Chief' of the name of Skene as the chiefly line had died out.  In 1962, Danus' parents sadly divorced, and his home came to be with his mother, at that time beside  Loch Tummel, in Perthshire.

Sent to school in England, Danus had continued to the University of Sussex, where he followed up his lifelong fascination with Africa, and the relation of Scotland and Britain to that continent. Following graduation in 1966, he went to Uganda for two years before entering the PhD program in Political Science at the University of Chicago. Leaving with an MA, Danus returned to Britain, and eventually to Scotland, where he qualified at the Universities of Dundee and Aberdeen as a High School teacher.

At Aberdeen, he met his wife Anne Audrey, also a teacher. While Hannah and Dugald and Abi were young children, they lived in different parts of the north and east of Scotland as teaching posts dictated.  All the while, Danus maintained active involvement in Scottish politics.  Hannah is now a doctor in London, Dugald has his own architect’s practice in Edinburgh, and Abi is a (Canadian!) civil servant.  All three are married.

In the early 1990s, members of the US-based Clan Skene Association contacted Danus as part of checking out who might be the head of the Clan given the demise of the direct line of the Skenes of Skene all those years ago. Investigation of family history resulted in the Lord Lyon accepting the opinion that the Skenes of Pitlour were indeed the senior surviving family of the name of Skene, and in February 1994, Danus matriculated his coat of arms as Skene of Skene. Clan Skene has a chief again!

Danus sealed his recognition as Skene of Skene with a major visit to the United States in 1996, when he was Guest of Honour at Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.  He has attended other Games in the US on four occasions since.

Sadly, Danus passed away on 19 August, 2016.  His integrity and intelligence will be forever missed here on earth.