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cl-Ireland-msg - 10/10/15


Medieval Irish Clothing.


NOTE: See also the files: Ireland-msg, cl-Scotland-msg, fd-Ireland-msg, SI-songbook1-art, bagpipes-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given  by the individual authors.


Please respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear  at this time. If information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



From: trifid at agora.rain.com (Roadster Racewerks)

Date: 1 Aug 91 05:07:17 GMT

Organization: Open Communications Forum


dkrume at magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu (Deborah D Crume) writes:

>Greetings, visitors to the Rialto, from Cailin MacFinn!

>Does anyone know of any good sources for Irish garb, preferably 13th or

>14th century? The Scottish garb which was recently discussed sounds

>interesting, but of course we ALL know by now that all Celtic people

>did not have the same language, music, dress, etc. ;-)  

>Please post your reply. I would guess by the names of some of the gentles

>who post here that this would be of interest to a number of folks.

>In service to the Dream,

>Cailin MacFinn                 mka Debbie Crume

>Middle Marches, Midrealm       Columbus, Ohio

>dkrume at magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu


I recently put this question forth myself, and have received two interesting

answers, which I hope the authors will excuse my passing on:


         30 Jul 91 10:30 GMT

From: Lesley Grant <lgrant at maths.tcd.ie>

Subject: Re: Irish clothing

To: trifid at agora.rain.com

Organization: Dept. of Maths, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.


>Could you please elaborate on the saffron leine, and does "leine" refer to

>linen as I have read elsewhere?


       "Leine" is the Irish for "shirt"/"tunic" (I suppose a sort of long

shirt). From what I gather, linen would have been the preferred cloth for

high-status people. Commoners would have worn homespun. Saffron was *THE*

most favoured colour, any yellow tended to be called saffron, but a deep,

clear gold seems to be the ideal. To my annoyance, I can't find the article

on Irish garb our herald, Eva de Barri dug up. A great article, telling you

not only how to get authentic colours but also how to make those infamous

"hairy" cloak collars...

       I seem to remember from Seamus' reading on Granuaile a description

of Gra'inne's mother as wearing a saffron leine "as befitted a noblewoman".

This would have been early to mid 16th century...


>I have also seen one report that among the Scots, men wore tartan great kilts,

>but women wore their version (the airsaidh) in a stripe of the same sett..


       I *think* tartan as we know it was a relatively late development,

perhaps as late as the 17th century? Can't remember where I saw this, though.

       I'll search up some references for you. Alas! Trinity library is

closed at the moment (why should librarians be given time off :-), but

they have surprisingly little anyway. I don't think much information exists

anywhere, but I'll do my best.




   %           Seamus Donn             Sorcha Ui' Flahairteaigh

   %|%          Jo Jaquinta             Lesley Grant

/\\ | //\       jaymin at maths.tcd.ie     lgrant at maths.tcd.ie

=====                 49 Russell Avenue, Clonliffe Road, Dublin 3, Ireland.

   /|\                  for the Shire of Lough Devnaree (Lough Da'mh na Ri'gh)



From: pbhyb!desande at ns.PacBell.COM

To: trifid at agora.rain.com

Subject: Re: Irish clothing

Newsgroups: soc.culture.celtic

Organization: Pacific * Bell, San Ramon, CA


>Could you please elaborate on the saffron leine, and does "leine" refer to >linen


Welcome to the wild and wonderful world of guessing what the Island Celts



Basically none of your questions can be answered with any proper authority.


There is a reference or two (or twelve) to a ranking system in Irish dress

based on the number of different colored stripes in a garment.  Unfortunately

there is no reference to how these stripes were displayed.  A King was

entitled to seven colors according to most authorities.  There was some

hubbub during the middle ages as to the right of the Catholic priesthood

to use eight-colored cloth for altar cloths, since their god was supposed

to be higher ranking than a King.  I don't believe that slaves were

allowed any stripe, but that could be faulty memory on my part.


We have examples of plaid material dating from pre-roman times in Gaul,

so we know that both twill and plaid existed, but we can't say for sure

how they were used.  The safest dress for an Irish middle ages personna

would be as follows:


Ankle-length saffron leine, heavily embroidered around the neckline, with

drop sleeves "deep enough to hold a sheep".  The leine should be pulled

up and belted so that the bottom rides at mid-thigh (this may embarrass

some people, as there was no underwear).  Valuable items were carried in a

purse worn at the side.  This moved around to the front and became the

Scottish Sporran.  A balloc knife or some other such weapon worn at the

waist, with a short dagger worn in a holster under the leine under the arm.

No shoes or hose.  A wool blanket approximately 60 inches by 5 yards of

either plain homespun wool or tartain (make sure you stay away from

analyne dies).  This became the breacan feile, or great kilt of the Scots.

A leather jerkin is appropriate, depending upon the period.  The hat should

be a soft knit (yes, knitting is period) or crochetted (spelling?) floppy

hat. In winter legs would be wrapped in the Norse fashion and furs would

be worn in addition to the blanket.  At home the Celt often went without

clothing at all, depending on the weather.  Males made, apparently, no

effort to hide their genitalia.


Women wore (near as we can tell) the leine as a dress, often with an

overskirt and a blanket of 2 or so yards (the arasaid).  A bodice,

depending on the period, is appropriate and head covering was apparently

either the arasaid or a shawl.


Tudor period clothing is well documented, as several examples of the

clothing of the nobility still exist.  Since SCA folk are supposed

to be noble, this type of clothing would be worn, rather than the peasant

costume described above.  


It has been my experience with SCA types that the Celts tend to dress

much earlier in style than they think.  By the 11th century, court

dress throughout the British Isles was fairly standard amongst the

nobility, the greatest variants being in peasant dress, which the

SCA types are not actually supposed to wear. A houppelande

would be most appropriate for the Irish, depending on the period.  You

can get a good idea from the Lindesfarne gospels and the Book of Kells

as to color, cut and detailing for the early stuff.


For ninth and tenth century stuff, Norse dress is very appropriate.  They

were thick as flies in Ireland and Scotland during that period.  After

the eleventh century, go with Norman styles, since they were the dominant

force in the British Isles until the Germans took over again after the

Stewarts (but that's post-period).  Please try and convince your people

that the Celtic nobility did not dress like peasants.  Most of the Irish

nobility after 1100 should be Norman in dress, name and flavor.  Only the

common folk wore the "traditional" dress.


I hope this helps some.  Let me know if I can help you in any other way.


Dougie Mhor

Doug Sanderson-Gomke (Douglas Edwin McAllestyr)



I hope this answers some of your questions. It certainly did mine!

All my thanks to Sorcha and Doughie Mhor.



trifid at agora.rain.com



From: IMC at vax2.utulsa.EDU (I. Marc Carlson)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: re: Irish Garb

Date: 6 Nov 1995 10:07:26 -0500


<The Polsons <polsons at cruzio.com>>

>HELP! This Irish matron of the late 15th C. is getting despirate! I can't find

>ANYTHING AT ALL in my local bookstores or library on 15th C. Irish dress,

>art, or needlework! I've found a little on 14th C. architechture, which

>will help with art and needlework motifs, but I'm really running out of

>ideas... and everybody I've talked to in my area who's doing Irish is

>either earlier or later! Sigh. What now???


<starace at imap2.asu.edu>

>I'm trying to find patterns (or even pictures!) of Irish Garb around the

>1400's. Any help?


<lyon < at infi.net:lyon at infi.net>>

>You should try to get a copy of "Dress in Ireland" by Mairead Dunlevy. It

>gives good descriptions but the pictures start at about 1500.  Good luck!  If

>you find pictures or other info for earlier, please post here.  I'd be very



I remain convinced that fewer people would have Irish Persona's if they

had to actually *dress* this way.


"The" current source still appears to be "Old Irish and Highland Dress" by H. F.

McClintock (I used the 2d ed. to compile this mess).  Also, you might want to try "Irish Medieval Figure Sculpture, 1200-1600" by John Hunt.


Let me hit the basics, so that the terms are the same (since the clothes

remain essentially the same forever, only the details change).


Irish garb throughout the early period was divided into clothes worn by the

upper classes, and those worn by people in subservient positions.  The Upper

class wore the garments known as the Leine and Brat, the lower wore the

Ionar and Broc.  Most of the descriptions I'm giving are fairly general,

since to be honest, these are based on no known surviving examples (other

than late, late period examples).


With some variations, women wore the Leine and Brat.


Leine and Brat:

       Leine:  This is essentially a tunic or long shirt, of a largish

               nature, and made to be floor length if worn unbelted.  When

               belted, it was pulled up so that the lower hem reached the

               knee and the excess was "bloused" over the belt.  There

               may have been a large neck opening, or perhaps a collar

               similar to that on an Australian Duster, since the Leine

               is sometimes refered to as having a hood.

               In the early period, the Leine may have had no sleeves, and

               it is fairly certain that sleeves cut from a ridiculous

               amount of material is a late period style.

               The Leine is likely to have been made from Linen, and

               is described as being "bright" in color, probably most often

               white, although in the later period shirts, saffron yellow

               may have been more common.

               The predominant decoration of the Leine would have been

               either trim or embroidery coming up from the hem and in

               rare cases reaching up to two feet from the hem.


       Brat:   The Brat is a piece of wool, size indeterminate, that was

               worn wrapped or folded around the body.  It was fringed

               or edged in trim or embroidery.


       Criss:  Belt or Girdle.  Probably leather.


Shoes may be worn with this outfit, although the legs are bare.  [BTW, the

character of Stephen, in "Braveheart", does wear an interpretation of the above

outfit, although his leans toward the later period descriptions.]


Ionar and Broc:

       Ionar:  This is a "jacket" or front opening shirt.  It may or may

               may not have sleeves. It may reach the hips, or be cut to

               knee length.

               Since the jacket is sometimes said to have been worn with a

               hood there is speculation that it too had a rather large collar.


       Broc:   (Or Truis or Trews) These are related to hose or trousers

               worn on continental Europe, although they were not imported

               in historical times.  They reached to the ankle and some are

               described as having a loop of cloth that ran around the

               foot (as in modern stirrup pants) to hold them in place,

               while others were flat bottomed like modern trousers.

               They were made from material that could be brightly colored

               or not, checked, striped, etc.  The material was cut on a

               bias so that the pattern would appear at an angle.  They

               were sewn to have a single seam up the back of the leg, and

               snugly fitted.  At some point later in period they were

               occasionally made so that the last 6-8" of the bottom were

               not seamed together, and buttons were udes to close that


               Note that the short, knee length breeches are likely a

               very late period importation.


There no stockings worn, and no cross gartering.  This outfit was normally

worn with shoes.


       Cochall:Hoods are reported as being widely worn, although few if any

               pictoral examples exist to give us clues.  There have been a

               examples excavated that resemble the "standard medieval hood"

               (though without the lire-pipe/tail), including one made from

               "otter skin".


And since I can't leave well enough alone...


       Kilts:  There is a *great* deal of debate on this topic, and it

               does appear that the "Kilts are a modern Affectation in

               Ireland" has the more solid arguement.  However, they

               still can't be disproven, and McClintock kindly provides

               the bulk of the documentation for them that exists (primarily

               so he can debate it).  However, if kilts *were* worn, they

               were probably (at least according to the posthumous work of

               O'Curry) called Leinidh.



15th Century Woman's outfit, from tombs "within the Pale"

     A gathered and pleated skirt, slightly assymetrically raised on the right

side, to reveal a pleated under gown.  Belted.  Bodice is close-fitted, but

still blousey, with very full sleeves, gathered at the cuffs. The headwear is

something piled into two cones, right and left.


16th Century Woman's outfit, from tombs in Kilkenny.  Based on the Leine, with

a heavily pleated gown (pleats starting at the neck-line), loose fitting belt,

and very full and pleated sleeves, gathered at the wrist.  Head wear, in these,

cases is more easily distinguished as a peaked "V" sort of hat.


Men's outfits are beginning to combine the Leine and the Ionar, with a short

doublet, with a large cutaway sleeve, often worn over the Shirt.  There are

some portraits that add the Broc to the mix.


If anyone wishes to further discuss this, I'm game.


"Mihi Satis Apparet Propter     Diarmuit Ui Dhuinn

Se Ipsum Appetenda Sapientia" University of Northkeep/Company of St. Jude

-- St. Dunstan                 Northkeepshire, Ansteorra

                               (I. Marc Carlson/IMC at vax2.utulsa.edu)



From: zaphod at zoology.ubc.ca (Lance R. Bailey)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: irish women's costume

Date: 27 Feb 1996 16:17:23 GMT

Organization: The University of British Columbia


Deloris Booker (dbooker at freenet.calgary.ab.ca) wrote:

> Greetings to all from aldreada of the lakes.  


> A friend has asked me to post a request for information on early period

> Irish women's costume.  She would like to make a complete outfit

> including leine(spelling unknown), undergown, bratte, shoes, head-dress

> (if any), embroidery or other decoration, accessories, belt, etc.


the best authority is McClintock, *Old Irish and Highland Dress*

(i believe the dewey decimal to be 391.0942 M12o, i was looking at it

last night)


McClintock has a lot of good pictures and analysis of same.





From: dickeney at access2.digex.net (Dick Eney)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Bog Gown - A longshot query - archaeology Co Clare

Date: 25 Mar 1996 22:14:45 -0500

Organization: Express Access Online Communications, Greenbelt, MD USA


Maggie Mulvaney <mulvanem at fp.co.nz> wrote:

>Greetings to all and sundry on this bridge from Muireann ingen Eoghain

>I am looking for information on a bog-find from Moy, Co Clare.

>what I know is that there was a gown found in 1931, which is

>identified as medieval, but the construction of it is of particular

>interest. It appears in Mairead Dunleavy's book on Irish Costume,

>but I have no citation for further reference.

>Does anyone here recall seeing anything about this gown? I'm specifically

>looking for good descriptions of the various pieces, any analysis on the

>material used, in short, an Archaeological report... :)


If this is the one that is 14th or 15th century-- it has a very tightly

gathered skirt, not actually gathers but cartridge pleats, and tapers

also so that although it has a normal size waistline, it has something

like a fifteen foot circumference at the hem.  I don't have the details

right at hand, but Kathryn Goodwyn (?) published a booklet some years ago

about Irish garb through the ages and included it.  It was virtually

complete, including a stiff bodice lining that was coarsely stitched in

(presumably so that it could be removed easily for cleaning or for use in

another gown.  IIRC, the description of how it was made, etc, was written

by a male archaeologist who apparently didn't know how to sew or any of

the standard terminology of sewing, which made his description almost

useless for a seamstress.


-- Tamar the Gypsy



From: bjm10 at cornell.edu (Bryan J. Maloney)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Bog Gown - A longshot query - archaeology Co Clare

Date: Tue, 26 Mar 1996 10:44:10 -0400

Organization: Cornell University


>I am looking for information on a bog-find from Moy, Co Clare.

>what I know is that there was a gown found in 1931, which is

>identified as medieval, but the construction of it is of particular

>interest. It appears in Mairead Dunleavy's book on Irish Costume,

>but I have no citation for further reference.


This is also described and photographed in McClintock's "Old Irish and

Highland Dress with Notes on the Isle of Man".



From: mulvanem at fp.co.nz (Maggie Mulvaney)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Bog Gown - A longshot query - archaeology Co Clare

Date: 27 Mar 1996 11:52:49 GMT

Organization: Fisher & Paykel Limited.


Dick Eney (dickeney at access2.digex.net) wrote:

: If this is the one that is 14th or 15th century-- it has a very tightly

: gathered skirt, not actually gathers but cartridge pleats, and tapers

: also so that although it has a normal size waistline, it has something

: like a fifteen foot circumference at the hem.  I don't have the details

: right at hand, but Kathryn Goodwyn (?) published a booklet some years ago

: about Irish garb through the ages and included it.  It was virtually

: complete, including a stiff bodice lining that was coarsely stitched in

: (presumably so that it could be removed easily for cleaning or for use in

: another gown.  IIRC, the description of how it was made, etc, was written

: by a male archaeologist who apparently didn't know how to sew or any of

: the standard terminology of sewing, which made his description almost

: useless for a seamstress.


Greetings, Tamar!


I'm not sure, but it sounds like a different gown. Here's what Dunleavy

says about it;

'It is of coarsely woven twill of lightly spun wool and may have had some

slight felting on the inner surface. It has a low round neckline, with

the bodice buttoned at centre front and tight sleeves buttoned to underarms.

The skirt is shaped with a double gore at centre back and at either side.

The front of the skirt did not survive. This Moy gown is of interest since

it shows the sewing techniques of the time. Selvedges were used when possible,

otherwise the fabric edge was thickened to avoid ravelling. All seams were

welted but the neckline was finished neatly with backstitch on the inner

face and the bodice fronts were hemmed. The seams of the skirts were sometimes

left unfinished twoards the bottom, the lower edge of which is so fragmentary

that it would be unwise to conjecture as to whether it was ankle or calf-length.

The difficulties surmounted in accommodating the sleeves are of interest.

The fabric was wrapped around the arm and cut to extend close to the neck.

A welted seam attached this to the body of the gown and continued into the

sleeve. In this way the weakness of a shoulder seam was avoided. For further

strength the two foreparts of the bodice were cut with narrow straps which

extended over the shoulders and into triangular gussets between the shoulder

blades. A gusset was placed at the front of each armpit for ease of movement

and comfort.'

There is also a picture on page 39 of the upper part of the back.

The tailoring of this gown is intriguing enough that I would like to know

more about it. Construction of garments is one of my pet topics...


Thank you for taking the time to look up a possible lead for me. It is

indeed appreciated!


Muireann ingen Eoghain



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: lila at lynx.co.nz (Lila Richards)

Subject: Re: Irish Costume

Date: Tue, 02 Apr 1996 01:17:56 GMT


"Morgan E. Smith" <mesmith at freenet.calgary.ab.ca> says:

>I've been trying to gather material on early Irish costume,.....

> My problem is that standard SCA costuming patterns for Irish leynes show

>a left-hand side semi-circle of sloth that appears to be brought forward

>and looped over the belt on the right-hand side. I can find no mention of

>it either in text or in illustration, in any of the sources I have



If your information is from an article in TI No. 68 (Fall 1983), written

by Aeruin ni Hearain, I understand (from an SCA friend who is an early

costuming expert) that the wrap-around piece on the early leine cannot be

documented, and is most likely a mistaken interpretation of side gores

used in many early gowns/tunics.  For a good description of this type of

garment and how to make it, see Muireann ingen Eoghan ua Maol Mheagna's

(Maggie Mulvaney) article in TI No. 117, Winter 1996.  This basic pattern,

though not specifically Irish, seems to have been used widely enough to

make it a reasonable garment to have been worn in early Ireland,

especially at a time when the Irish had had contact with Anglo Saxons and

Scandinavians, who both wore garments of this general pattern.


>Also, the camisi, which is only glancingly referred to in the sources I



The above pattern can also be used for this, made with longer, tighter



Caitlin ingen Cumhail ui Briuin,



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: Madoc <John_nash at hp-unitedkingdom-om1.om.hp.com>

Subject: Re: 11th century Irish clothing~

Date: Mon, 13 May 1996 20:23:45 GMT

Organization: Hewlett-Packard


Bitterfolk at aol.COM wrote:

> Try as I might, I really haven't come up with any information about Irish

> clothing in the 11th century, or any century close to it.  I mean dresses,

> and shoes, and did they wear hoods?  I'm at the point of simply making some

> 11th century English garb, assuming the two countries are nearby, maybe they

> were similiar....  Does anyone have the answers here?  Is there a good book

> on this subject, or isn't there any documented information on this subject?

> If anyone can help, I certainly wish they would.  :)


> Thank you very much,

> Lennabhair


I belong to a re-enactment society over here in the U.K. My particular

group specialises in Irish and Welsh dress of the 11th century.


What specifically would you like to know ???

In addition, you could try

M. Dunlevy - Dress in Early Medieval Ireland

F. McClintock - Old irish dress  (I think)


As a matter of interest, we are off (as a group) to do a series of shows

near Dublin in three weeks....



     John-Nash at hp-unitedkingdom-om1.om.hp.com



From: s.krossa at aberdeen.ac.uk (Sharon Krossa)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: 11th century Irish clothing~

Date: Mon, 13 May 1996 21:05:20 +0000

Organization: Phuture PhuDs


Bitterfolk at aol.COM wrote on 12 May 1996:

>Try as I might, I really haven't come up with any information about Irish

>clothing in the 11th century, or any century close to it.  I mean dresses,

>and shoes, and did they wear hoods?  I'm at the point of simply making some

>11th century English garb, assuming the two countries are nearby, maybe they

>were similiar....  Does anyone have the answers here?  Is there a good book

>on this subject, or isn't there any documented information on this subject?

> If anyone can help, I certainly wish they would.  :)

>Thank you very much,



Have you tried


McClintock, H. F.   Old Irish and Highland Dress, and that of the Isle of

Man. Second and Enlarged ed.  Dundalk: Dundalgan Press (W. Tempest) Ltd,

1950. 1 vols


McClintock, H. F.   Old Irish and Highland Dress, with Notes on that of the

Isle of Man.  Dundalk: W. Tempest, Dundalgan Press, 1943.  1 vols


These seem to start with at least 11th and 12th century primary sources

concerning Irish dress, though I don't know the specifics as far as dresses

and shoes and hoods and stuff.


Effric the temporarily sloinneadh-less, who's fond of McClintock for

gathering together so many primary references in one spot...


Sharon Krossa: skrossa at svpal.org (permanent)

-or- s.krossa at aberdeen.ac.uk (until June 1996)



From: s.krossa at aberdeen.ac.uk (Sharon Krossa)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Leine Pattern (was: How to make a kilt?)

Date: Mon, 13 May 1996 21:05:41 +0000

Organization: Phuture PhuDs


Okay, here is one leine pattern, given only on the understanding that no

one take this to be a period method of construction, only that it results

in something that looks pretty much like 16th century drawings of Irish

leines. Also given with the warning that I am not a great sewing type

person, and this has been written down from memory, and so if I left out

some vital step or information, or made a total hash of the explanations,

it's only to be expected :-)


Effric the temporarily sloinneadh-less, definitely not the sewing type


_____ Leine Pattern _____


This is a basic leine pattern. Although it results in something that looks

pretty much like the 16th century drawings of Irish people in leines as

reproduced in McClintock, no claim is made that this is actually how they

were constructed in period!!!!


1. Get a lot of 60 inch wide cloth, of the colour desired (cotton, linen,

even very light wool will do -- linen is probably the most period though)


2. Get some basting tape (at least, I think that is what its called -- it's

a this strip of colored material, cotton I think, that usually comes folded

in half, and I think you have a choice of widths, maybe 1/2 inch or

something, and it can be used to finish hems or something. It comes in it's

own little package wrapped around a card. Can you tell I don't sew much? If

I can sew this thing -- you can!)


3. Get some sturdy but not too thick string or cord.


4. Figure out how long you are from the top of your shoulders to how long

you want the leine to be -- the floor for women, at least the knee for men.

Call this length X. Piece "A" is the width of the cloth (60 inches) by 2

times length X.


5. Figure out how long you want the sleeves to hang. (That is, if you stick

your arms straight out to the side, how far down do you want the sleeve to

fall -- halfway down your chest, to your waist, what? Use the pictures in

McClintock as a guide for this. Remember that when you put your arm down by

your side, your sleeve will fall about this far from your wrist towards the

ground -- and you don't really want to be dragging your sleeves on the

ground!) Call this length Y. Each piece "B" (and you want two of them) is

the width of the cloth (60 inches) by 2 times length Y.


6. Finally, you want two pieces (peice C) that are about 9 inches wide by

about 24 inches  inches long. (the 24 inches is to go around your arm, so

if you have big arms, you need this to be longer -- you want this to be

loose but not as big as the main sleeve pieces.)



                    |<9>|                    |<9>|


                        |  <- 60 inches ->   |




                        |                    |                          


                        |                    |                        

                        |                    |                          


                        |                    |                        

                        |                    |                          


                        |                    |                            

                        |                    |                          


                        |                    |                        

| <- 60 inches ->   |   |         A          |   |  <- 60 inches ->   |  


                        |                    |                          


|--------------------|   |                    |   |--------------------| -

|                    |   |                    |   |                    | |


|                    |   |                    |   |                    |

|                    |   |                    |   |                    | |


|                    |   |                    |   |                    |

|          B         |   |                    |   |         B          | Y


|                    |---|                    |---|                    |  


|                    |   |                    |   |                    | |

| |

|                    | C |         __         | C |                    |

|                    |   |        /  \        |   |                    | |

| |

|====================|===|=======(    )=======|===|====================| -

- 24

|                    |   |        \  /        |   |                    |  


|                    |   |         ||         |   |                    |

|                    |   |         ||         |   |                    |  


|                    |---|                    |---|                    |  


|                    |   |                    |   |                    |

|                    |   |                    |   |                    |

|     sleeve         |   |                    |   |       sleeve       |

|                    |   |                    |   |                    |

|                    |   |                    |   |                    |

|--------------------|   |       body         |   |--------------------|

                        |                    |    

                        |                    |  

                        |                    |  

                        |                    |                      

                        |                    |                      

                        |                    |                      

                        |                    |                        

                        |                    |                      

                        |                    |                      

                        |                    |                      



7. Okay, now you have 5 pieces of cloth, right? (If not, go back and reread

steps 1 to 6!) One huge one (A), two big ones (B), and 2 little ones (C).


8. Piece A is the main body, and so you need to cut a hole in it for your

neck. At the center, cut a circular type hole big enough for your neck, and

down the front make a single slit (make this cut long enough so that you

can slip your head through the hole and slit)


9. Take a length of the basting tape (or whatever that stuff is called) and

use it to finish the neck hole and slit. That is, if the tape isn't already

folded in half widthwise, fold it in half (iron it to help it stay), and

slot the it around the cloth at one side of the slit, then around the neck

hole and down the other side of the slit and sew it on. [I know I'm not

explaining this part very well -- I hope it will be intuitively obvious

though when you see it!] The result should be that the edge of your neck

opening is covered and lined with this basting tape.


10. Line up the centers of these five pieces as shown in the diagram

(centers are marked by the ===== line) and sew them together. (Actually, it

helps to do this one at a time :) Sew the first B to the first C (with

centers aligned), then sew the other side of that C to A (with centers

aligned), then sew the other side of that A to the second C (with centers

aligned), then sew the other side of that C to the second B (with centers

aligned). You should now have one very large strangely shaped piece of



11. (You're going to repeat this step for each sleeve) Cut two pieces of

basting tape that are as long as the width from the neck to the edge of the

sleeve. Cut two pieces of cord that are a few inches longer than this. Sew

the two lengths of basting tape, one to each side of the center line

(====), from the neck to the sleeve edge, to make two channels for the

cords, leaving the ends open at the neck and the sleeve. This should be

done on the *outside* side of the leine -- you want the channels to show

when you're wearing the leine. Thread the cords through, then at the neck

end only, sew down the cord and channel end to held them in place. Make

sure this sewing is very firm! (The sleeve end of the channel will be left

open permenantly) Repeat this for the other side.


12. Fold the cloth in half at the center line (====), with the string

channels on the *inside* of the folded cloth, and the raw edges of the

seams on the outside.


13. Leaving enough room for your wrist, and any small children you may

eventually want to put in your sleeve, sew together the open edges of piece

B, working around to the edges of piece C, then sewing down the sides of

piece A to the bottom. Then do the same for the other side. (Basically,

having folded it in half, you now sew together all the open edges except

for where you put your hands and feet :-)


14. Finish the hem of the leine


15. Turn the leine right side out (so the colorful channels are on the

outside, and the ugly sewed bits are on the inside)


16. Pull on the cords, gathering up the material along the arms and

shoulders until the body and sleeves are the right width to be worn by a

human. Tie the two left hand side cords together, and tie the two right

hand side cords together. You can adjust the legth of the sleeves to suit

your tastes, or to get them out of the way when you're doing work.


17. You're done!


This pattern makes for a very very full leine with very big billowy

sleeves. I was not kidding about putting small children in your sleeves!


If you don't want to use the drawstring method, you could instead use the

same pattern but pleat the shoulders and sleeves to the right dimensions

and sew the pleats down.


This is a real one size fits all pattern -- just adjust the cords on the

sleeves to make it fit a large man or a small woman. The only size

consideration is really the length of the body, and even that can be

gathered up.


Again, *no claim is made that this is a period construction method* -- only

that the result looks pretty much like 16th century drawings of leines, and

that it fuctionally works as far as something that can be worn and lived



This method of leine making is not my own idea, but was learned from Clovis

Carleton in California, USA. I have written it down from memory, though, so

any errors introduced are purely my own. [And if anyone wants to make

suggestions for how to make the instructions clearer, do please e-mail me

at skrossa at svpal.org!]


Effric, who can't sew but still managed to make a leine


PS Here are the McClintock references in case anybody doesn't have them:


McClintock, H. F.   Old Irish and Highland Dress, and that of the Isle of

Man. Second and Enlarged ed.  Dundalk: Dundalgan Press (W. Tempest) Ltd,

1950. 1 vols


McClintock, H. F.   Old Irish and Highland Dress, with Notes on that of the

Isle of Man.  Dundalk: W. Tempest, Dundalgan Press, 1943.  1 vols


Sharon Krossa: skrossa at svpal.org (permanent)

-or- s.krossa at aberdeen.ac.uk (until June 1996)



From: s.krossa at aberdeen.ac.uk (Sharon Krossa)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Leine Pattern (was: How to make a kilt?)

Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 00:58:29 +0000

Organization: Phuture PhuDs


garvey at tribble.cig.mot.com (Heather L. Garvey) wrote on 14 May 1996:

>Sharon Krossa <s.krossa at aberdeen.ac.uk> wrote:


>>|====================|===|=======(    )=======|===|====================| -- 24

>>|                    |   |        \  /        |   |                    |  

>>|                    |   |         ||         |   |                    |

>>|                    |   |         ||         |   |                    |  

>>|                    |---|                    |---|                    |  

>>|                    |   |                    |   |                    |

>>|                    |   |                    |   |                    |

>>|     sleeve         |   |                    |   |       sleeve       |

>>|                    |   |                    |   |                    |

>>|                    |   |                    |   |                    |

>>|--------------------|   |       body         |   |--------------------|

>>                         |                    |    


>>13. Leaving enough room for your wrist, and any small children you may

>>eventually want to put in your sleeve, sew together the open edges of piece

>>B, working around to the edges of piece C, then sewing down the sides of

>>piece A to the bottom. Then do the same for the other side. (Basically,

>>having folded it in half, you now sew together all the open edges except

>>for where you put your hands and feet :-)

>       So is the sleeve going to look boxy? If you just sew around the edges,

>sleeve B is going to be square-cornered....

>       And do you finish off the cuffs with bias tape like the neckline

>or gather them or what? :)


Well, when you turn it rightside out, it doesn't actually look all that

boxy, because of the gathering up top, even if you don't round the corners

when sewing (I know cause people have done it that way). HOWEVER, as

advertised, I forgot an instruction, which is to round the corners at the

bottoms of the sleeves as you sew them :-) You don't actually have to round

them very much -- only enough so there isn't a sharp corner. (Like the use

of seasonings in a recipe -- round the corners to taste ;-)


As for the cuffs -- they are on the finished edge of the material, so don't

need anything done to them (no hem or whatever). You do need to quadruple

sew the the end of the seam below wrist opening, though, so that it holds

in day to day wear (dragging those children in and out, etc). I know some

people who embroider the wrist openings for decoration, or finish them with

(bias tape? is that what it's called?) to make them look pretty. Again, I

can't guarantee the periodness of this actual form of construction.


Effric, glad to know her predictions on leaving instructions out have been



Sharon Krossa: skrossa at svpal.org (permanent)

-or- s.krossa at aberdeen.ac.uk (until June 1996)



From: bjm10 at cornell.edu (Bryan J. Maloney)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Irish costume, 14th cnentury...

Date: Wed, 10 Jul 1996 18:40:09 -0400

Organization: Cornell University


"Joseph H. Greene" <jgreene at orion> wrote:

> I need info on garb for a femmale with a 15th century Irish persona.  Any

> suggestions?


According to a drawing of "Noah" and his family from a late 14th/early

15th century book, the women appear to have been dressed in "slightly

behind the times" fashion.  It looked like a long-sleeved chemise or

kyrtle under a short-sleeved cotehardie, with a sideless surcoat over

all. Headgear was one of those squarish "hat-veils" that I can't describe

to save my life.


Source: Early Irish and Highland Dress.



From: Diana Dills <ddills at u.washington.edu>

Newsgroups: alt.scottish.clans,alt.fairs.renaissance,rec.org.sca

Subject: Early Highland Footwear and Clothing

Date: Fri, 12 Jul 1996 18:39:02 -0700

Organization: University of Washington


I'm not an expert, but my SCA persona is an Irishwoman from about 1100.

And I've done research on Irish and Scottish clothing back to 600 ad and

even earlier.  Due to their convenient habit of stuffing people in oak

logs and burying them in peat bogs, some garments and shoes are extant

from the period of 600-1000 ad.  Margarethe Hald is an excellent source,

and did much of the primary research on this period for Danish, Irish, and

Norse textiles and shoes.


A common man or woman would have gone barefoot or worn ghillies or brogues

of raw, untanned leather.  Apparently these were worn until they rotted

off, and the smell must have been...well...indescribable, after a day of

trekking through the bogs!


A wealthier individual would have worn shoes made of a single piece of

leather, sewn up at the heels and along the tops.  No soles to speak of

until later. (1200?)


The typical garment for the upper classes, both men and women, was the

liene, a linen "sherte" or tunic that fell to the ground on ladies, and

below the knees on men.  It was a sign of wealth to use as many ells of

linen as possible, especially in the voluminous, pleated sleeves, which

could hang almost to the ground.


Saffron was the most popular dye, and yes, they had oodles of it in the

British Isles.  Slippery elm, poplar, and Lady's Bedstraw were also used.

So yellow was the classic color for lienes, although white, crimson, and

other colors were not unheard of.  Over the liene, which was worn alone,

next to the skin, was the brat.  This was an oval or kidney shaped cloak

woven of wool that was heavily tufted on one side; it probably looked

like a modern flokati rug!  This was a popular style from 500-1100 in

the more remote regions of the north, and in Scandinavia.


Of course, the Irish were always ford of wearable wealth, and so golden

or bronze ornaments of fine quality were worn.  There was also some nice

red enamel work from this time...


There are many better sources than my rambling recollections, but try to

get a copy of almost ANYTHING by Hald first!  Also, McClintock's "Early

Irish and Highland Clothing" is excellent, as is Mairead Dunlevy's book.


Maeve of White Ash



From: foxd at silver.ucs.indiana.edu (daniel fox)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Old Irish and Highland Dress

Date: 17 Aug 1996 06:10:14 GMT

Organization: Indiana University, Bloomington


Frederick C Yoder  <fyoder at mesa5.mesa.colorado.edu> wrote:

>If you have seen the book, could you tell anything about the utility of

>it regarding accuracy and such?  I went to a lot of trouble to get a book

>of similar title and was sore disappointed in it.  It turned out to be

>one of those early 1800's noble savage books, where everyone wore

>bearskins till they took up French fashion...

> Phred


Old Irish and Highland Dress by H. F. McClintock is about the best book

on the subject I have run into--it uses primary source material, and

isn't infested with the usual romanticized notions on the subject.


(I.E. it doesn't assume that clan tartans go back hundreds of years, and

shows a picture of the actual statues that resulted in the mistaken

notions about Irish kilts.  )


The drawback is that the book was printed in 1950, and hasn't been in print for

40 years....


Audelindis de Rheims



From: excmairi at aol.com

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Ancient Irish

Date: 7 Nov 1996 20:27:46 GMT


(YoLyddy at aol.COM) asks:


Lady Mairi would like to know....


Are there any surviving textiles and or garments from Ireland that are not in

the book "Dress in Ireland" by Mairead Dunlevy?  This being the period before

1650. Also..... discriptions and pictures of surviving Irish embroideries

and lace of that same period.



Sorry - I think that the book you reference is the best there is out

there. Good luck, though!


The Other Mairi (Baroness..ni Raghaillaigh)



From: L Herr-Gelatt and J R Gelatt <liontamr at postoffice.ptd.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Irish Cup/Circle Brooches

Date: 6 Feb 1997 00:43:39 GMT

Organization: ProLog - PenTeleData, Inc.


Gracious Gentles,


I am reading a book entitled *Treasury of Early Irish Art, 1500 BC to

1500 AD* (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1977, ISBN 0-87099-164-7). Of the

many beautiful objects, two stuck me as being immediately interesting,

and I am wondering how widespread their use was in Ireland within our  

rough period.


The two objects are:


1) Gold Dress fastener (clones) which is essentially the dome of a cup

brooch, minus the pin or rod, connected not by a chain or loop to another

dome, but by a rigid arch.I quote the source:  "This dress fastener

functioned like a double button in metal, to slip through two

'buttonholes' in a garment". The date given is about 700 BC . I am

wondering if these were used to fasten the typical apron-dres of vikings

and celts, or if the style of the dress worn with them is altogether



2) Bronze Dress Fastener. This example is essentially a badly cast large

round circle. Attached to the circle coming off the side (circle is NOT

domed)at a close angle  is a brass exagerated s-shaped rod which has been

flattened in the center of the S into a rectangle,  and tapered and

flattened at the tip. The whole is incised, and enamel would have existed

in the low spots. Again I quote: "The curved stem was meant to slip

through slits in a garment." The date given is approx 600 AD . Again, is

this type of fastener used on an apron dress, or was it used for another



Elsewhere in the book it states that the comon dress code in the 7th

century was a full length sleeved tunic and a cloak, and the biggest

difference between the classes was revealed through ornamentation. I have

trouble reconciling these two irish "fasteners" to the sleeved tunic

theory (unless worn with a viking-style apron dress over it).


Can anyone elucidate?





From: dnb105 at psu.edu (Duane Brocious)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Irish Cup/Circle Brooches

Date: Wed, 5 Feb 1997 22:24:40

Organization: CAC


L Herr-Gelatt and J R Gelatt <liontamr at postoffice.ptd.net> writes:

>1) Gold Dress fastener (clones)


This sounds like a fastner in Archaeology Ireland a few months ago. It was

dated to much earlier than anything "celtic".


>2) Bronze Dress Fastener. The description is dificult to follow but sounds

pre-celtic. In "our" period various fubulae (basicly safety pins) brooches and

straight pins were much more common. The articles I think you are talking

about are closer to modern "ciff-links" and are more likely Bronze Age than

medieval, at least in Insular use.





From: "Jo Grant" <jo_grant at crd.lotus.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: irish armor

Date: 19 Mar 1997 10:49:16 GMT

Organization: Lotus Development Corporation


Morgan E. Smith <mesmith at freenet.calgary.ab.ca> wrote

> "Dress In Ireland" by Mairead Dunleavy is the most reliable and

> well-researched source I know of.

> MtheU


It is also just about the only one! We've only ever found 4. I don't have a

list to hand but if people have complete references I'll add them to Lough

Devnaree's web site (http://www.maths.tcd.ie/~jaymin/sca).


A word of caution: you may see many reprints of a series of

woodcut?engravings with titles like "An Irish Nobleman", "An Irish

Noblewoman", "A Wilde Irishman", "A Wilde Irishwoman". If you have seen

them you should recognise them. These, however, should not be taken as

accurate depictions. Rather the context in which they appeared was as

propaganda and the clothes they are dressed in are drawn to be laughable to

the fashion of the time.


Master Seamus Donn



Date: Fri, 03 Oct 1997 09:33:33 -0500

From: Wendy Robertson <wcrobert at blue.weeg.uiowa.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Irish shaggy brat


At 08:09 AM 10/3/97 -0500, J. Patrick Hughes said:

>I would be very interested in where you got the information on the

>construction of the Irish Brat.

>Charles O'Connor


Are you familiar with the article "An Irish "shaggy pile" fabric of the

16th century -- an insular survival?" by Elizabeth Wincott Heckett,

(p.158-168) in Archaeological textiles in Northern Europe : report from the

4th NESAT Symposium 1.-5. May 1990 in Copenhagen, edited by Lise Bender

Jorgensen & Elisabeth Munksgaard.  Copenhagen, 1992.  (Tidens Tand Nr, 5)



Its bibliography cites McClintock, H. 1936: "The mantle of St, Brigid",

Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 66, 32-40.  On

skimming the article, this appears to be an 11th century cloak, probably

with Irish origins, now in Belgium.  It looks like this is fairly complete.

(The 16th century finds look to be small scraps.)


I have not read either article (the first is in a newly received ILL book;

I haven't had a chance to read it all yet.)



Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 08:31:35 -0400

From: nancy lynch <lughbec at erols.com>

To: SCA-ARTS LIST <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Re: Irish Period Clothing


Liadain wrote:

> I haven't yet committed to a specific time period but I am leaning towards

> the 12th-13th centuries. I am currently interested in leines and their

> construction and history (I've heard that there is no basis for women

> wearing lenias, is this true?)


Lughbec responded:

That is a good time period as you have many choices of garments to make

and wear. :-)


The word leine has a long and glorious past.  It began as an upper body

covering that you wore most of the time.  Less cumbersome than a cloak

or "brat", and you could manuever in it without it getting in the way.  

Leine started, as with other cultures, as a skin of some animal wrapped

about the body and pinned or sewn on.  Generally a front and back piece,

attached at the sides and shoulders.  Then with weaving introduced, this

garment evolved into a woven rectangle on the front and another on the back,

much like the Greek chiton (most costume books have pictures of these).  

Then in the northern climates, sleeves were added on.  (Barbaric feature

to the Romans until they went north, then they adopted the custom :-) Both

men and women were wearing these leinte (plural in Irish for leine) with

the noble women's generally being mid calf to floor length, and noble

men's being knee to floor length (floor length was reserved for showy

occasions- not everyday use).


The leine that most modern ren-fair and historically interested folk

talk of is the saffron leine that the warrior class of the 15th to

17th centuries wore.  There is much talk of this garment and garments

like it worn by the Irish, as it was considered an old fashioned style

and color and against the "progress" the English Tudors were trying to

enforce upon their subjects.  First understand that to the English, any

garments that were not of the "modern" fashions, that reflected local cultural

and ancestral associations were considered against English attempts to

drag their subjects into the modern age and out of their medieval backward ways.  


This became a problem as the very people that the English sent in to whip

this backward country into shape (transplanted English and Scot nobility),

enjoyed the local color and fashions and found themselves adopting the local

customs. So, many Acts and edicts were put into effect to turn the English

subjects, nobility and the Gaeil (plural for Irish native), back towards

the "progressive" views.  The average Gael paid little attention to these

laws, but the nobility were forced to if they wanted to be recognized and

powerful within their government and English social connections.


So what does this have to do with the leine?  Just that in the S.C.A we

are all nobility and adopt the customs that fit our chosen personas and

time period.  In the time of the Norman Plantagenet's influence on Ireland

(your chosen time period, Liadain), many of the noble women were wearing

garments similar to cotehardies and t-tunics, but with Irish embroidery

and trim and fringe.  But with these influences, the Irish were also

using their time honored traditions.  If you could put more fabric into

a garment for show, Irish nobility did that.  So the sleeves gradually got quite

large(by the 1400s) and the skirts, enormous.  Under-leinte are less than

totally clear as we do not have any extant garments of this type (linen

does not survive in graves or bogs well).  From sculptures we can ascertain

dress styles of the nobility being influnced greatly with European dress

(see "Dress in Ireland" by Mairead Dunlevy) yet still very Irish in flavor.


Saffron or yellow, as a color(derived from a multitude of different dye

sources), was extremely popular with both sexes and considered very Irish.  

Yet that was not by any means "the" color.  They customarily wore their

clothing in layers with each layer showing.  Each successive layer got more

ornate and more colorful than the preceeding layer.  *high court example

(5th cen thru 13th cen): white linen underdress leine trimmed in gold and

red tablet woven trim, with an over leine of woad blue twill wool - fringed

and embroidered, with an outer ionar (jacket shorter than the leine

underneath) of brightly colored wool patchwork lined in red silk with

an applied fringe, with a circular ankle length cloak of saffron fulled

and highly brushed wool with a hood - speckled with various colors and

embroidered around it's entire edge.


I do not know if in early periods this garment was actually called leine,

or if that was an introduced Latin term, but it has been in use from their

earliest written records(post 5th Century) to the present.  The modern word

for "shirt" in Irish is leine.


So, to recap your questions.  Yes, women wore leine.  Yes, women wore

saffron colored leine.  No, noble women "probably" did not wear the same

style saffron leine that the warrior class wore, of which there are

pictures drawn by various artists in the 1500s.  Noble women wore a

kind of kind of bag-pipe sleeved under dress (written descriptions

have them in various colors, but illuminated in white only that I have

found) by the 1500s.  In your time period I have no particular pictures

or sculptures I can recall or find that have big sleeved garments for

women. They seem to have evolved after the 1300s.  They do have big

skirts though, perhaps welted or pleated or gathered.  


I certainly do not know everything on this subject and would welcome

any differing documents to be brought forth.  I hope I have answered

your question.  Now read what I recommended and we'll have more to discuss.:-)

I suppose what I must do is gather what I have into a readable format

for use in a "Complete Anachronist".  Maybe next year.:-)


Sonas ort! (Happiness on you!)




Date: Mon, 08 Dec 1997 09:37:35 -0700

From: Nancy Lynch <lughbec at info2000.net>

Cc: SCA-ARTS LIST <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Irish Celtic Garb


James Brown wrote:


> > Unfortunately Irish dress is rarely included in costuming books.:(

> I understand traditional dress was frowned on, possibly to the point of

> being outlawed in some areas, by the 16th century.


Yes, with each successive reign the English monarchy was "forced" to

outlaw more and more traditional Irish customs, including clothing.  The

Crown was attempting to make all of their subjects good modern

Englishmen and were frustrated by the tenacity of the Irish custom of

holding onto thier Medieval-backward ways.  Of course, the Irish opinion

was slightly different.:)  Not only did the Irish hold onto thier

ancestral clothing styles, but the transplanted Normans took on the

fashions as well.  That was a part of the English difficulties, their

own folk were "Hibernizing" (turning into Irishmen :)  By the time of

the Tudors, and especially Elizabeth, even the transplanted loyal Scots

and English were straining at the yoke of English fashions.  They

weren't practical in the Irish countryside, and the culture and life was

SO different.  Eventually Elizabeth got most of her transplants to

fortify the English culture within her heirarchy in Ireland, against the

Old Irish nobles (Normans and Gaels) at least within the Pale (Dublin

area) by the end of the 16th century.


> > many of the drawings and written accounts are a bit vague.

> Boy, you got that right!!

> > Written accounts from various sources give the Irish men wearing plaid

> > or bright wool trews (pants) with the legs cut on the bias, for better

> > fit and mobility.

> Some accounts I have read state that only the mainland Celts wore the

> pants, with the Irish wearing long tunics and knee-high boots. Can you shed

> any light on this subject?


Study the old Irish drawings, sculptures and written histories, trews

were quite common.  Also the gravesites have remnants of trews on many

of the males.  (but none on the females, as of yet).


> > T-tunics with the borders embroidered, with woven trim, fringed,

> > knotted, beaded, or a combination of these treatments on a fine wool or

> > linen were popular garments.

> What kinds of colors and patterns would have been used?


Most all colors that were available anywhere in Europe or imported would

have been available to the nobility in Ireland.  They did trading quite

a bit, especially after the Vikings built trade centers (9th cen- on)


> I understand they

> were quite specific to one's place in society. For example, I found a

> wonderful dark blue plaid wool material for a cloak (it matches what I had

> visuallized almost perfectly). What kinds of colors would go with this?


In the Irish culture, if it was a color it matched.:)  There were rules

of color if you want to get specific.  Green was a noted color of

astronomers,- bards and poets were noted by excessive amounts of blue,

red was a regal color, purple was used in special gifts, but I do not

think any of these colors were exclusive for these specialties.


There were also rules regarding the number of colors used.  The problem

is, I am not sure exactly what colors (if there was a rule on this) were

allowed for each level discussed.  Also, keep in mind that while Ireland

seems a small "country" to us, they most often were a collection of

seperate tribes with similar culture.  So not all "rules" could be

applied to the whole of the island.  (this goes for language and

pronunciation as well, but that is a whole other kettle of salmon.:)

Soldiers and peasantry   - 1 color

Officers                 - 2 colors

Clann (perry tribal) chiefs - 3 colors

Beatach (cattle lords)     - 4 colors

Nobles                   - 5 colors

Nemed (philosophers, high bards, judges, master craftsmen) - 6 colors

Royalty                  - 7 colors


Medieval Celtic plaids were very square and regular in design.  They

could be lined up diagonally on the bias at 45 degrees.  There are a

couple of great extant pair of 15-16th century Irish trews in Dunlevy's

book "Dress in Ireland".


> > Wools and linens were most used by the nobility, but by the tenth

> > century, the Viking traders had been bringing Byzantian imports of silks

> > in as well.

> What about cotton? Obviously, the Irish didn't have the climate for it (and

> trading with the Egyptians was risky at best during the Crusades), but I

> would think the Mediterranian countries would have the climate (I've found

> at least one reference to a cotton trade in Italy during the 14th Century),

> so logicly the Romans should have had it.


Cotton is possible, but would have probably been rarer than silk.  But

cotton is a good modern replacement (and cheaper) for linen.  Just try

to shy away from too bright colors if trying to be ultra period, as

linen generally takes dye sparingly.

> Would a Viking sword be out of place? This is what I happen to have. I had

> no idea what it was when I got it, but it fit what I wanted and the price

> was right. Besides, if your sword breaks in the heat of battle, steel is

> steel, right? Grab what's handy!!


You bet!  As I stated in a previous missive, Vikings were an integral

part of the Irish culture by the 10th century.  Inter marriage, trade,

war, and fosterage became commonplace between the cultures.

Work up a scenario for your acquisition anywhere within these parameters

and have fun with it.:)  You can, of course, wear or have anything you

want within the time period.  It is just if you are aiming at accuracy,

period achievements, and developing ones persona correctly that research

comes in handy.  Fortunately, the Irish culture had a tendancy to not

only work with their own time periods fashions, but it was considered a

noble act to wear the styles or accoutrements of ones ancestors, so

multiple centuries were worn side by side.


Hope this helps, and doesn't just confuse.

Write if you have more questions....  or answers!:)

Mistress Lughbec



Date: Wed, 28 Jan 1998 10:24:10 -0600 (CST)

From: Lorine S Horvath <lhorvath at plains.NoDak.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: 5th cen Irish Clothing questions (long) [SCA]


If I were recommending one book on clothing for this time period it would

be Gale Owen-Crocker's Dress in Anglo-Saxon England... It is not

currently in print that I can find in the U.S., but there are still  a

few copies available from her publisher in the U.K.  I haven't gotten a

copy yet because I'm not sure how to do it...  But it is available

through inter-library loan, which is free, and I order it frequently.  I

haven't been able to find a book on early period Irish garb that I trust,

but there is a book (also out of print but available through

inter-library loan) that has a lot of information on the time period,

culture, and jewelry, from which some inferences can be made:  Lloyd and

Jennifer Laing's book "Late Celtic Britain and Ireland"... and by late

they mean 500-900 or something around that range.  I will certainly be

watching for other sources in the replies to your questions!

Fiona nicAoidh



Date: Wed, 28 Jan 1998 16:26:46 -0700

From: Nancy Lynch <lughbec at info2000.net>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: 5th cen Irish Clothing questions (long) [SCA]


Gwen Morse wrote:


> I can't figure out the answers to these questions

> because either they're not directly answered, or, the list response tends

> to be 'varies by time period'...

> (1) What did 5th century Celtic women wear as a primary garment (main

> dress)?


I assume we are talking about nobility, which is good because little is

known precisely of the lower classes and not much more is known about

the higher classes.  Some of what Is known is from archaeological sites,

but the 5th century is sparse in actual garments found in the islands.

Mostly what is available is pin placements and speculations.  Along with

some sporatic written acounts we come up with a picture.


So with all those disclaimers in mind...:-)

The main dress of the nobility was the leine.  Probably this was a linen

garment that was something like a t-tunic.  The Romans were making note

that these "barbarians" were wearing sleeves and pants.  This was

thought of as strange, until the Romans actually "spent" a winter in the

northern climes.:)  Then those copy-cats were  wearing them too.


With or without sleeves, depends on your desires and the climate I would

guess. Otherwise, keep in mind that the Irish were noted for their

outstanding ornamentation.  This is most noted by historians and the

annals of most all Medieval Irish documents.  Woven trims, embroideries,

fringes, beads and decorative "spangles" were favorites.  Again, no

pieces have been found as of this time, but one can speculate from the

jewelry and the illuminations of the time the patterns used.


> An inner (underclothing) garment?


If you are wearing a garment next to the skin it would be linen, and

often of white or natural color for ease in washing.  How many layers

you wear is up to the weather and conditions again.  Keep in mind that

it was noted that they often wore many layers and each layer was noted

to be slightly shorter than the previous.  Also this gave them a space

for decoration so each edge of each garment showed and was decorated.


> An outer (overdress) garment?


Outer layers were for warmth or decorative display and were most noted

in wools.  Same decorative applications apply.  There was also applique

used, but I haven't documented it's earliest date in use in Ireland.

There is a wool Dress that resides in the Danish National Museum in

Copenhagen that was found in a bog in Huldremose that is a garment that

was in use by the Celts at this time.  It is speculated from pin

placements on bodies that this garment was popular throughout the

islands. It is basically a tube that is pinned at the shoulders with an

over lap over the chest and upper back (Greek chiton style).


> True outerwear (cloak/warmth)?


The cloak or "brat" was the most important garment anyone had.  If you

had no other garment you had a brat, and if you decorated anything, the

brat was the most highly decorated.  This was a rectangle or circle or

partial circle, and often came with a hood that matched, sometimes



> I've seen discussion of the leine (a sleeveless tunic/dress) as the primary

> garment. Is the leine similar to/representative of the 'peplos' dress worn

> by Ango-Saxon women (see Anglo-Saxon web site above)?


"Leine" meant upper body garment so getting specific is kind of

difficult. A leine could very well be a peplos type of garment (kind of

like the Huldremose dress). Generally when the word leine is used it is

referring to a fine noble garment.  Outer leine were often of bold



Over garments were called (among other things) ionnar (eye' nar or

in' nar).  These were shorter than the leine and often of wool.  There

are various designs likely including a modern bathrobe or a t-tunic

style, or the Huldremose style.  Sometimes ionnar were of varigated

patterns (even worked plaids), or patchwork.


> What was worn under

> the leine, and did this undergarment have sleeves? Was there an overdress

> as well, or, WAS the leine the overdress?


See above...........


> The leine has been described by people on the SCA-ARTS list as a

> tunic/dress that is often (usually? sometimes?) sleeveless. What exactly

> defines 'sleeveless'? Is that two rectangles of fabric fastened at the

> corners to make shoulders and a neckline, or, was it somehow cut and shaped

> like 'modern' sleeveless garments to conform to the upper body? The leine

> was also mentioned as being open on the sides. If this is true, is there an

> undergarment...or, if it's open and there is NOT an underdress...HOW open

> is 'open'?


Good question.:)

In the warmer months I am sure that the light weight leine that was

without sleeves could have been worn without any other garment.

However... for protection from the sun and "other" considerations, it

could have been worn over sleeved garments, or unsleeved garments, or

pinned or overlapped along the side and belted at the waist.  Or, like

the Huldremose dress, it could be sewn up the side, wide enough to get

your arms out the top two holes when pinned at the shoulders.


Does walking briskly or standing in a breeze bare intimate parts

> to the world???


You need to get the tube size right, but I wear one without any

concerns, sewn up the sides of two 45" rectangles of fabric.  It is



> It seems ridiculous that it WOULD (the women had to WORK in

> these clothes), but, I haven't seen a clear description of what parts were

> sewn and what weren't.


Again, I believe that would depend on the type of garment worn and for

what purpose you were wearing it.  If you are working and do not want it

to flash everyone then you would wear the sewn up one.  If you were

standing in court and only an ornament then a very highly decorated

garment would be worn and wouldn't necessarily need to be totally

sensible. If (in period)you were working in 110 degree heat and just

wanted to cover the essentials mostly.... might be different.  Remember,

our cultural mores are a bit different.


> If there is an underdress/undershirt/undertunic (like a peplos dress), how

> is it shaped?


Probably similar to the Saxon dresses.


> Are the sleeves tightly fitted, basically even tubes (same

> diameter at shoulders and wrists),

and possibly had a gusset in the shape of a diamond at the armpit.

'puffed' at the shoulders, 'puffed' at

> the wrists, or, 'blousey' like poet/medieval shirts?


Much later periods these...^^^^


> What about the 'shape'

> of the underdress body? Is it two rectangles sewn up the sides?


Most likely.  However, again, we must speculate from what other cultures

were doing at that time.


> Is there

> some sort of goring or widening of the skirts, and, if so, where are the

> gores placed (sides of skirt, middle of skirt, both)?


In the fifth century I am not sure that would be so, but not impossible.


> Is there any cutting/fitting around the waist?


This was a style that came in in the Viking period (post 800)

How long would the garment be?

For ladies, between mid calf and floor length, depending on the garments



> Would it

> be 'open' or shaped in any special way that might not be evident from quick

> verbal descriptions?




> If there is some sort of overdress/overshirt/overtunic, how is it shaped

> (see the preceding paragraph of questions about underdress)?

> Pants/underwear - I saw mention on the SCA-Arts list that sometimes women

> would wear pants (I think someone said this). However, the web page on

> Celtic costuming said they didn't. Is there a general consensus on whether

> women would wear pants at times or not? (For example - would they wear them

> under short tunics but not long ones, or, during a particular season).


To date no women have been found in Irish archaeological sites wearing

truibas (trews=pants), yet nearly all men are wearing them.


> If

> yes, could someone provide detailed descriptions of how the pants would be

> cut and sewn (were they 2 leg tubes of cloth sewn together, were they two

> upside-down 'v's with the bottom squared and sewn together?) Did Celtic

> women wear panties/briefs/some sort of 'underwear' as modern western women

> understand it?


Don't know.


> What about breast support? Was there an underdress shape

> that would provide 'support' for the full-busted woman?


I am sure that if a need arised that something would have been done.

However, no such items have been uncovered as far as I am aware.


> Cloaks - what material besides wool or hide/fur could they be made of?


They also make cloaks out of wool with tufts of hair added in, a kind of

"fake fur" look.  The cloaks were sometimes lined with a soft fabric (in

later periods - silks occasionally).


> Would they be made of patterned (checked or striped) fabric in the 5th

> century?


Often checked, striped, even woven plaids, speckled, brightly colored,

streaked, hairy, and even patchwork.


> Was it hooded?


Sometimes. Sometimes there was a seperate hood.  Sometimes there was a

hooded short mantle worn over the cloak.


> Was there a specific cloak 'shape', or was it more

> like a rectangular piece of cloth pinned at the shoulder (neck) and thus a

> cape rather than a cloak? Would there be pocketing/sleeves/sleeve holes, or

> any other obvious alterations to the garment?


Not in this period.  They did use metal pins or penanular brooches to

close them either in center front or over one shoulder.


> Some assorted questions...many garments are referred to as being 'fringed'.

> Was this accomplished by picking threads out of the basic weave to fringe,

> or, knotting new threads into an existing edge (or, both - and if both what

> differentiated what type was used)?


When a garment is woven a natural "fringe" is left on the edge and

knotted or stitched to maintain it's integrity.  Also fringes were

specifically woven to attach to garments.  This was done a lot with

metallic threads to add a gilt border with the fringe.


> Garments are referred to as being made

> of one of a very few list of fabrics (wool, linen, and silk (+ rarely

> hemp)). Were these the only fabrics available in the region? What about

> muslin - where did it originate and why weren't garments made from it?


Cotton was from the Egyptian region and completely made by hand and so

was not as available as it is today.  However, if you want a linen look

you can use it for that I suppose.


> What

> sort of stitches were used to sew large panels of fabrics together (what

> was the 'main' stitch technique)? What stitches were used to finish off

> hems?


Basically it is believed that the stitches used in Ireland were in use

in other regions of Europe.  Running stitch, double running stitch,

oversewing, herringbone, and blanket stitches were probable used.  Look up


for Dark Age Stitch Types


> What about neck-lines/wrists/ankles of garments? How would a modern

> hand-sewer hide stitches in a lightweight linen fabric for hemming or other

> finishing?

Look up period manuscripts for necklines.  Book of Kells and earlier

would be about right.  As to stitches and hemming, our fabrics in many

cases are not all the same as the 5th century fabrics.  However, turning

up the edges to the outside with a trim hiding the edge works well.

Fringing (pulling threads and knotting) is a fun edge trim.  Also

cutting a bias fabric and using it like bias tape and covering neckholes

is great.  Also, I use self fabric facings with a decorative stitch to

hold it down to the inside.


The rest will have to wait for another day...:)


Sonas ort! (Happiness on you!)

Mistress Lughbec ni Eoin



Subject: BG - leine pattern

Date: Mon, 02 Feb 98 15:47:03 MST

From: Chris Yone <cyone at sprd1.mdacc.tmc.edu>

To: Bryn-Gwlad list <bryn-gwlad at Ansteorra.ORG>


This link is for anyone interested in the basic leine pattern (irish or

scottish highland) (shirt or chemise with large, baggy sleeves gathered

on top to the proper length)




Kirsten MacDonald



From: wireharp at ix.netcom.com(RWM)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: re: Clothing for Irish Children

Date: 3 Apr 1998 05:22:21 GMT


There is a woodcut from Derricke's Image of Ireland, 1581. It shows a

kerne, a chief and a horse-boy (groom). The boy is wearing the léine in

the same fashion as the kerne, but he does not have the decorative

pleating around the waist. He also is not wearing trews... a risky

proposition considering how high that léine is hiked up. It would

appear that the clothing is similar, but a simpler less costly version.




Robert Mouland



Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 12:30:13 -0700

From: Curtis & Mary <ladymari at cybertrails.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Torcs, leines, and other assorted Irish problems


> 1.) One source tells me that the leine is worn only with a brat, not an outer

> tunic.


Leine {pronounced lay-na}in modern Irish means 'shirt'.and is used as the English might say chemise or shirt. It is the linen garment with very large bag

sleeves. Men's leine had slightly shorter length sleeves, though they were still the large bag type {i.e. women's sleeves went to the wrist, men's seem to stop at the elbow or between the elbow and the writs} Men wore theirs belted at the waist with the excess bloused out over the belt.


> Another source tells me that the term inar means jacket, and would be

> appropriate as a term to describe the outer garment.


Ionar seems to refer to a specific sort of jacket stlye, with a short waist, below which is a short skirt, pleated when of wool, made of seperate peices when

of leather and with hanging sleeves.


> One source says the inar and the leine were worn alone, you wore one or the

> other, never both.


As a rule men would wear the leine with the Ionar over it and with bare legs,

though I seem to remember a wood cut or two where the man was wearing leine,

ionar and trews.


> Another source states that each layer was more decorated

> then the first,i.e. the leine was decorated with some embellishment, the

> garment over that was more decadent, and the cloak the most visually stunning

> of all.


Most of the later illustrations and descriptions such as those published in

Dunlevy show the mantle, rug or brat [all names for various cloaks] as being very colorful, mentioning checks, stipes, speckled ones with colored fringes.

However the clothing shown all seems to be solid colors, as in the de Heere plates printed in Dunlevy.


Of all the existing clothing in the National Museum of Ireland have no trim or

embroidery. Some of the old tales and legends have the heroes wearing very

bright, perhaps bleached leines with many bands of stunning embroidery,

though we don't see this in the illustratons.


> Did the Irish, like most everyone else in northern europe at the time, wear an

> under tunic-outer tunic scheme? I thought so, but historic scholars seem to

> disagree on the issue.


If you are talking Early Christian Era, then probably and if you will look

back at Dunlevy, you can see some evidence for this scheme in that chapter. However, Irish dress styles, even when adapted from the continental styles were very distinctive.


> 2.) Were torcs worn within the SCA timeframe? When did they go out of fashion?

> Pennanular and fibulae brooches seemed to survive with some popularity, but

> what of torcs?


we don't have any evidence for the torcs in our time and I can't recall any being found that were not in a bronze or iron age context, However, Irish styles

did change very slowly over time, so if you were very early persona, it might be

a possibility.


Try: http://www.reconstructinghistory.com/ This site has been under

remodeling and may still be hard to navigate, but this lady has been to the National Museum in Dublin and personally examined the textiles there; watch your TI for a forthcoming article on one of the dresses there.  And we are both going to Dublin then Belfast to look at the textiles, tools and clothing in both museums later this year.


Mairi, Atenveldt



Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 17:01:08 -0700

From: Nancy Lynch <lughbec at info2000.net>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Torcs, leines, and other assorted Irish problems


Spatsman at aol.com wrote:

> Another attempt at information concerning the early Irish!

> Hopefully a few fellow Hibernians will be able to shed some light on these

> questions...


> 1.) One source tells me that the leine is worn only with a brat, not an outer

> tunic.


Generally, there is little documentation about "exactly" what was worn

with what. Textiles are rarely found in excavations in Ireland, so other

evidence must be used.  Some documentary sources, sculpted and

illuminated works, and the tools used in textile manufacture are of some



Unfortunately, some documents are relying upon incorrect information as

facts. Just because someone wrote something down, and another person

published it, does not make it necessarily correct.  Lots of early Irish

historians took some writings as the only information and made all Irish

wearing one thing.  Silly.  Very Victorian in the historical approach



Leine means upper body garment, generally the one closest to the skin,

has for hundreds of years.  So keep in mind that the design of your

leine is in direct relation to the time period you are wearing it.:)

Earlier leine are more of the T-tunic style or sleeveless.


Leine was worn with a brat, and if outdoor work was being done or horse

riding was happening, trews (pants) were common.  Then if it was pretty

cool, even with the brat, the better off folk wore a jacket, called

ionar. Ionar is a word used for hundreds of years so, again style is

related to time period.  Early is more of an enlarged T-tunic (with or

without sleeves) or a wrapingg one was worn.  I believe it looked much

like a modern bathrobe.


> Another source tells me that the term inar means jacket, and would be

> appropriate as a term to describe the outer garment.


Yes. Generally the ionar is considered to be a wool, or at least a

heavier, garment.  The jackets worn in earlier period were, from written

and extant sources, made of wool, leather, wool and hair mixed(goat

probably), and possibly a quilted padded jacket, maybe even patchwork.


> One source says the inar and the leine were worn alone, you wore one or the

> other, never both.


Anyone that uses the term "never" is pitching for someone to disprove them.:)

The Irish were very fond of clothing as a determination of their status.

It is mentioned over and over that their garments were worn in layers,

with each succeeding layer being shorter than the one underneath, to

show off the decorative edges (embroideries, fringes, tablet

weavings...). Can't really do this with only one garment on.  Leine are

generally worn next to the skin, generally made of linen, ionar are made

of wool. Not as much worn next to the skin, but possibly.


I see possibly many layers, depending upon weather conditions etc.


> Another source states that each layer was more decorated

> then the first,i.e. the leine was decorated with some embellishment, the

> garment over that was more decadent, and the cloak the most visually

> stunning of all.

> Granted, very little is known of this time, but does anyone know...


No one "knows".  As far as I am aware, we do not have extant bodies of

this time wearing all their clothes.  If they were discovered in a bog,

then no linen would have likely survived, so the picture would be

incomplete anyway.


> Did the Irish, like most everyone else in northern europe at the time, wear an

> under tunic-outer tunic scheme? I thought so, but historic scholars seem to

> disagree on the issue.


See above.:)


> 2.) Were torcs worn within the SCA timeframe?


As far as I know, the torcs that have been reliably dated are pre 500

A.D. Somebody else might be able to fill you in better as to exact

dates. They are definitely bronze age, probably iron age, but how late

they date, can't find it today.   However... The Irish were notably fond

of wearing ancestral fashions and accoutrements, so.......  Sure, I sure

wouldn't argue with a torc being "in period".:)

When did they go out of fashion?


> Pennanular and fibulae brooches seemed to survive with some popularity, but

> what of torcs?

> I'm familiar with Dunleavey's Dress in Ireland, I'm still looking for

> McClintock's Early Irish Dress, and I have read the Social History of Ancient

> Ireland. The website, "Clothing of the Ancient Celts" gave me more questions

> then answers.


> ~Fionnagan


Dear Fionnagan,

Here you go.  And, look up the bibliographies in these books too.  And,

look at what the folks are wearing in the period illustrations and

sculptures. Not just costuming books, but art books and period

illustrations are also the keys.



       Medieval Irish Noble Dress

       by Mistress Lughbec ni Eoin


1. "The Celts", by T.G.E. Powell , Thames and.......Hudson, New York,



2. "The Celtic World", by Barry Cunliffe, Greenwich House, under

McGraw-Hill, UK, Maidenhead England, 1986


3. "Ancient Danish Textiles from Bogs and Burials", by Margrethe Hald,

Natl Museum of Denmark, 1980  - excellent resource for early Celtic

garments and those of early Northern European folks of Middle Ages and



4. "The Book of Durrow", described by Bernard Meehan, Trinity House,

Dublin, Ireland, 1996


5. "Dress in Ireland", by Mairead Dunlevy, Holmes and Meier, New York,


Dunlevy is in charge of the Textiles Dept. Of the National Museum in

Dublin, Ireland


6. "The Book of Kells", described by Sir Edward Sullivan, with

additional commentary from "An Enquiry into the Art of Illuminated

Manuscripts of the Middle Ages" by Johan Adolf Bruun, Studio editions,

London, 1992


7. "History of Highland Dress", by John Telfer Dunbar, with an appendix

on "Early Scottish Dyes", by Anette Kik,  B.T. Batsford Ltd., London,



8. "Handbook on the Traditional Old Irish Dress"; H.F. McClintock,

Dundalgen Press, Ltd.  1958,  28p.


9. "Old Irish and Highland Dress";  H. F. McClintock, 2nd edition

Dundalk, Dundalgen Press, Ltd., 1950,   141p.


10. "COSTUME AND FASHION; The Evolution of European Dress Through the

Earlier Ages"; Herbert Norris,  chapters - Celtic Age - Irish Celts,

J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd.,  New York, 1924.


11. "On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish"; Eugene O'Curry,

Vols. 1,2, & 3, Scribner, Welford and Co Publishers, New York, 1873


12. " The Archaeology of Early Medieval Ireland ", Nancy Edwards, B T

Batsford Ltd., London, 1996


14. "Gold under the Furze"; edited by Alan Gailey and Daithi O'hOgain,

a collection of dye articles including "Traditional Dyestuffs in

Ireland"; article written by Brid Mahon, published by Glendale Press,

Dublin, 1982


15. "Prehistoric Textiles": E.J.W. Barber, Princeton University Press,



16. "The Twilight Lords; An Irish Chronicle" :  Richard Berleth, Alfred

A. Knopf,  New York,  1978. - 16th and 17th century chronicle of Irish

relations with English rule and loss of the Gael nobility.  Has some

bits on Irish garments worn into court.


17. "Primitive Shoes: an archaeological-ethnological study".; Margrethe

Hald, National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, 1972


18. " Art of the Celts": Lloyd and Jennifer Laing, Thames and Hudson,

Ltd., London, 1996


Embroidery Designs


Early Medieval Designs : Eva Wilson,  British  Museum Pattern Books,



Celtic Art :  George Bain,  Dover Publications,  New York, 1973 - (orig.

pub. William McClelland and Co. , Glasgow, Scotland, 1951)


Nancy Lynch

1941 6th  Ave.

Greeley, CO  80631

lughbec at info2000.net



Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 18:20:00 -0700 (PDT)

From: Gabrielle Bombard <KiaraPanther at excite.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: RE: Irish/Celtic clothing for women





Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2000 15:18:15 -0700 (PDT)

From: Gabrielle Bombard <KiaraPanther at excite.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: RE: Irish/Celtic clothing for women


Here is another






From: Gwen Morse <goldmooneachna at yahoo.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Four names, two garments???

Date: Sat, 11 Jun 2005 23:05:33 -0400


I'm having some trouble making sense of an excerpt from the

Introduction to one of the volumes of "On the Manners and Customs of

the Ancient Irish" by Eugene O'Curry. The Introduction itself was

written by W.K. Sullivan.


When discussing versions of short capes worn by the early Irish, Dr.

Sullivan wrote:


<snippage of Cochal describing it as a short cape with a conical hood

with a tasselled point>


The Cochal was the Gallo-Roman Cucullus, sometimes occuring in

combination as Bardo-Cucullus, which was used by Romans of loose

morals, but who, nevertheless, wished to keep their vices secret.


<snippage of a description of a statue wearing a cochal>


The Irish Cochlin or small hooded capes appear to represent the Roman

or Gallo-Roman Cucullio (gen Cucullionis). The latter, like the full

mantle, was much used at night and in travelling. especially in rainy

weather. The Cucullus seems to have been adopted at a very early

periord by the clergy. In the eighth century its use was practically

confined by synodal decree to monks bound to it by a vow, and

occasionally to priests in very cold weather. Thenceforward the

Cucullus became the special garb of monks, though still used in some

parts of the Mediterranean, for instance Corsica, by sailors, boatmen,

and shepherds. In the eighth century the Cochal was considered in

Wales and counties as characteristic Irish dress, and the coarse,

long-napped woollen cloth of which it was made continued to be an

important export of Ireland up to at least the middle of the

fourteenth century.


</end of quoting>


What I'm confused about is the shifting between Cochlin and Cucullus.

Was the Cochlin (IN IRELAND) eventually limited to monks? Or, was the

_Roman_ Cucullus eventually limited to monks? Or, was the basic

garment limited to priests throughout Christian areas of Europe

(excepting those sailors, boatmen, and shepherds in the



Additionally, was the Cochlin a separate form of hooded cape from the

Cochal? They sound as if they would be, but, there's no description of

the Cochlin other than to say that they were "small hooded capes",

while the Cochal has several sentances describing its construction.

I'm wondering if Cochlin is perhaps meant to describe a family of

capes, of which the Cochal is one and there would be others.





From: Sharon L. Krossa <skrossa-unn at nonsense.medievalscotland.org>

Subject: Re: Four names, two garments???

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2005 05:10:19 GMT


On Sat, 11 Jun 2005 20:05:33 -0700, Gwen Morse <goldmooneachna at yahoo.com>


> I'm having some trouble making sense of an exerpt from the

> Introduction to one of the volumes of "On the Manners and Customs of

> the Ancient Irish" by Eugene O'Curry. The Introduction itself was

> written by W.K. Sullivan.


Note that this isn't the best source in the first place, so while you may

figure out what Dr. Sullivan intended to say about the Ancient Irish, you

won't necessarily find out anything reliable about what the Ancient Irish

actually wore.


This is because Sullivan's introduction is 19th century scholarship, and

when it comes to interpretation and conclusions, 19th century scholarship

more often than not leaves a great deal to be desired. To an even greater

degree than with modern scholarship, his interpretations and conclusions

shouldn't be trusted any further than can be supported by consideration

of the full evidence using sound reasoning -- including all the evidence

and reasoning that 19th century scholars were unaware of but which are

available today.


On top of that, O'Curry itself is problematic, even though (if I

understand correctly) it is mainly translations of primary documents. As

one example, O'Curry sometimes translates Gaelic <leine> as "shirt" and

sometimes as "kilt", which is at best extremely misleading and at worst

simply flat out wrong. (The possibility that it is merely extremely

misleading is only because O'Curry may not actually have meant kilt when

he said "kilt"...)


So, for everything Sullivan says, you need to ask: How does he know?

Exactly what evidence is he basing this on? What evidence is he

overlooking or was he not aware of (because it only came to light more

recently)? How sound is his logic? What assumptions is he making?




Sharon L. Krossa "No Nonsense" skrossa-unn at nonsense.MedievalScotland.org

Medieval Scotland:  http://MedievalScotland.org/



From: Gwen Morse <goldmooneachna at yahoo.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Four names, two garments???

Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2005 17:42:20 -0400


On Tue, 14 Jun 2005 05:10:19 GMT, Sharon L. Krossa

<skrossa-unn at nonsense.medievalscotland.org> wrote:


>On top of that, O'Curry itself is problematic, even though (if I

>understand correctly) it is mainly translations of primary documents. As

>one example, O'Curry sometimes translates Gaelic <leine> as "shirt" and

>sometimes as "kilt", which is at best extremely misleading and at worst

>simply flat out wrong. (The possibility that it is merely extremely

>misleading is only because O'Curry may not actually have meant kilt when

>he said "kilt"...)


O'Curry provides his translations, and as you point out, they're

translations of period sources (they're not in _my_ period, but,

they're as good as I can hope to find given nothing useful was written

down in 5th century Ireland).


I'm already aware of the problem with his translation of leine. I can

mentally transpose "Leine" back into any description of clothing that

includes the word 'shirt' or 'kilt'. So, if the translation claims

some warriors are wearing 'snow white kilts with blue borders', I know

they're actually wearing snow white _leinte_ with blue borders. What

matters to _me_, for reconstructive purposes, is that their clothing

is light and there's a single dominant color mentioned as being on the

"borders". _THAT_ style (light fabric with colored borders) is

supported in other sources. O'Curry's translations help show what

colors were more or less "choice" or "valuable" -- as they're

descriptions of assemblies of warriors of differing social strata. The

common warriors would be wearing common clothing, while the wealthy

ones would have the correspondingly more rare resources for their



It's not possible to get this same level of detail from stone carvings

or illuminated manuscripts.


Carvings and manuscripts will provide pictoral examples of the

clothing (and in the case of manuscripts, the colors as well). But, it

takes the written word to 'explain' that Lord Biglake wears purple

borders on his clothes, while his charioteers make do with blue, and

the King of Overthere has borders of red gold.





Date: Wed, 09 Aug 2006 07:39:13 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Images of Dining in Ireland 1581

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Kass McGann has a number of articles up on Irish dress

at her website Reconstructing History.



She has a number of patterns out on Irish dress.

The articles can be found by clicking on "Irish" in the left column.

The one on the leine

http://www.reconstructinghistory.com/irish/leine.html goes into

that odd  pleating. She points out that while John Derricke was in  

Ireland but that the engravings were made in England.


I've always seen these woodcuts in association with costuming too.

This feast scene gets mentioned or reproduced in small images

also because of the music aspects. Finding it in a large image that

can be examined for details was, I thought, worth posting. Also

this is supposed to be the best and most complete set of the woodcuts

which makes the volume something special.


[The above woodcuts can be found in:

The Image of Irelande, by John Derrick

(London, 1581). The most famous plate of the set shows the chief of the

Mac Sweynes seated at dinner and being entertained by a bard and a  



http://www.lib.ed.ac.uk/about/bgallery/Gallery/researchcoll/ireland.html -Stefan]





To: scanewcomers at yahoogroups.com

Subject: Re: Question for newcomers

Posted by: "Alison Choyce" greenfaere at gmail.com

Date: Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:07 pm ((PDT))


On Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 4:37 PM, Kathy Fletcher

<kathyfletcher99 at yahoo.com>wrote:

<<< I was, and still

am, looking for info on garb, style of course, but fabric more so.  What

kind is best to make different pieces, can it have a print or stripe, what

colors are "tabu". How can i be sure it is appropriate? My particular

persona (I've been playing for a yr and half) is early Irish, so there's no

"painted" examples like for much later.  I can't really tell from statues,

so where do you go for that kind of info?  That may be too detailed, or

specific, for a 102 class. Has anyone ever done a garb 101 class????


Caissene >>>


Great questions! I am a costuming junkie, so I will jump in on this

question. For starting out, it is easiest to go with basics. If you ever

get into doing research yourself on your persona's culture, you may find

more information than you think.


Try to use linen and wool if you can (not everyone has the funds or a

source, but it was used more than cotton, and in more places and times than



Linen was used for underclothing, veils, coifs, shifts, undershirts,

braies, etc. In the SCA we extend that to some of our outergarments as

well, because it is so comfortable in summer in the US, and has the right

'drape' for period clothing. Try http://fabrics-store.com/ , they have many

colors, the medium weight is good for most uses, and the 3.5oz or

lightweight is great for lightweight shifts.


Wool was used much of everything else, gowns, cloaks, stockings, hats, etc.

Wool flannel has a basic tabby weave that used throughout period, and is

available from many sources in a variety of colors. They did have a variety

of interesting weaves in period, but those can be hard to get today,

especially in a cost effective version. Try

http://www.bblackandsons.com/and look under the flannel section.


Silk was available to those who could afford it. And cotton was available

but was more expensive than silk, and harder to get.


There are a few books you might want to look into. One is titled Dress in

Ireland by Mairead Dunlevy, and also the Warp Weighted Loom by Marta

Hoffman, which will discuss fabrics that would have been available.


As to colors, you might want to choose colors that look like they could

have been gotten with a natural dye, florescents are, to my eye, a bit too

bright. Fabric that we would call tartan or plaid today were certainly

woven then, not in the current way of thinking that a certain pattern

belongs to a specific family. Jacquard weaves were not possible until there

significant innovations in looms and weaving around the 14th century. So

tabby or twill (which can have many variations) were the weaves available.


Alison Wodehalle


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org