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cl-Scotland-msg - 6/17/12


Clothing of Scotland. folding of kilts.


NOTE: See also the files: cl-Scot-fem-art, cl-Scot-male-art, cl-Ireland-msg, Scotland-msg, Ireland-msg, clothing-books-msg, fd-Scotland-msg, haggis-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: ddfr at quads.uchicago.edu (david director friedman)

Date: 9 Oct 90 02:39:57 GMT

Organization: University of Chicago


   Tartans Etc.


"I think that clan-specific tartans date from the late 18th and early

19th centuries." (Steve Duncan)


"A question comes to mind immediately....  How much of the clan

tartan business is a Victorian Romanticism" (Laura Rydal)


I read up on this subject many years ago; I am afraid I no longer

have the references. Apparently the "traditional clan tartans" were

forged by the brothers Sobieski-Stuart early in the nineteenth

century. They claimed to have gotten them from a medieval manuscript

in their possession (Vestiarum Scoticum? Some Latin name like that)

which they were very reluctant to let anyone else examine. The

Sobieski-Stuarts claimed to be descendants of both the Polish and

Scottish royal families, and were very popular with the celtophile

aristocracy of the time. There are, I believe, regimental tartans

that are much older, but I do not think any are known to be period.


Incidentally, the Skean Dhu (stocking knife) also appears to be a

"celtic revival" invention (not necessarily by the same people). The

Scottish Dirk, on the other hand, is real, but the earliest evidence

is slightly post-period; it appears to be a descendant of the ballock

dagger, which is period.



(David Friedman)

DDFR at Midway.UChicago.Edu



From:    Ioseph of Locksley  

Date: 09-Oct-90 01:09pm

Subject: tartans


From: laura at ux1.lbl.gov (Laura Mcvay)

>Is there a good reference extant which discusses Medieval Scottish  

>Dress, with illustrations from paintings, brasses, etc.  There were

>some differences according to period accounts, but I'll like to know  

>more. Perhaps there is a book of portraits from the National Museum

>of Scotland?  I'd love to know about it and how to obtain it..

       My researches show that Scots nobility, at least, wore Anglo-French

       fashions, about 50 to 100 years out-of-date. The Highland garb was

       mostly the "saffron shirt" (which tended to be a padded gambeson)

       for men, and standard generic peasant garb for women.

"I read up on this subject many years ago; I am afraid I no longer

have the references. Apparently the "traditional clan tartans" were forged by

the brothers Sobieski-Stuart early in the nineteenth century. They claimed to

have gotten them from a medieval manuscript in their possession (Vestiarum

Scoticum? Some Latin name like that) which they were very reluctant to let

anyone else examine. The Sobieski-Stuarts claimed to be descendants of both

the Polish and Scottish royal families, and were very popular with the

celtophile aristocracy of the time. There are, I believe, regimental tartans

that are much older, but I do not think any are known to be period."


       There are, apparently, five setts that have been accepted by Lyon

       King-of-Arms as pre-1745 -clan- patterns. Three of those are my own

       clan (MacRae) setts, MacRae Hunting/Dress, and Prince Charles Edward

       Stuart. There is also Rob Roy, and Black Watch. I have yet to find

       any pictorial evidence of tartan in medieval times, tho much from

       post 1550 can be dug out. Most of the other setts tend towards post

       Victorian times in age.

"Incidentally, the Skean Dhu (stocking knife) also appears to be a

"celtic revival" invention (not necessarily by the same people). The

Scottish Dirk, on the other hand, is real, but the earliest evidence is

slightly post-period; it appears to be a descendant of the ballock dagger,

which is period." (also Cariadoc)

       Worn in the stocking of the kilt (a post-1650 style) yes, but in

       period it was worn in the armpit. I figured out how to do this

       from research about two years ago.....and have been working on an

       article for TI on period Highland dress ever since.....should be

       ready to fly in about 6 months or so.

                                       -Ioseph of Locksley

                                        Harper to Clan MacRae



From: kinsey at nas.nasa.gov (Cassandra L. Kinsey)

Date: 16 Oct 90 16:15:04 GMT

Organization: NAS Program, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca


>>I've seen 16th century portraits (not many,

>>but a male and a female) that show the great kilt incorporated with

>>doublet and shirt.

>Where? Where?  I'd love to do a scots doublet for 12th night.


When I was in Scotland, I went to the National Art Museum in Edinburgh.  There

was one painting in particular that had left an impression on me.  It was

a picture of a large (stocky) man in a great kilt, but instead of a tunic

covering his upper body, or bareskin, the man was wearing furs.  I think the

painting was done in either the 16th or 17th century, but I think is was

portraying someone from earlier times, probably 15th century.  


Also, I just watched "Highlander" again this past weekend, and parts of the

story take place in 15th century Scotland.  This was the manner in which

the Scots were dressed in the movie.  Hope this helps.


Yours in service,

Eiriol of Lothian



From: sgj at slc1.brl.mil (S. Gwen Johnson)

Date: 13 Oct 90 06:15:35 GMT

Organization: Paladin.aberdeen.md.us

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca


I'll make it brief, kilts come in two basic types: great kilt and

little kilt.  Little kilts are modern kilts, and are an 18th century

invention. It seems that the word kilt at this time was attached to

this garment, and the term great kilt was coined to descirbe what had

been worn before.  Alas, I can't remember what the gret kilt was

called in period before, but it was nothing remotely ressembling

'kilt'. The great kilt is a plaid (a rectangular peice of cloth, not

necessarily tartan. Isn't the evolution of langauge fun?)  


Great kilts are period, they were worn for a long time.  Just how the

were worn is a matter of debate.  As is just who wore them, and for

what activities.  I know a couple of wearing a great kilt, I'll

describe them if asked.  I've seen 16th century portraits (not many,

but a male and a female) that show the great kilt incorporated with

doublet and shirt.  The basic great kilt takes five yards minimum of

wide wool.  In period it was made of narrower fabric than we have now,

'and going up a hill, or in a wind, the indecency of it is plain'

which is a fairly close quote of an eyewitness account in a time

period I can't remember.  Aargh!  'Formal' great kilts took up to

thirty yards.  Great kilts are not sewn (a boon for those of us who

view needles with supsicion) and have *pockets*, lots of pockets.  


Scotland seemed to delight in 'chequered cloths' as one translation of

Diodorus would have it, the Irish seemed to prefer plain cloths.  As

to when they were worn, well, only by men on foot.  (Do not ride a

horse in a skirt with no underwear underneath!)  As such I suspect

they were only worn by the nobility on rare occassion, and were in

fact the garb of the commoner.  Having worn great kilts myself on a number of

occassions they are quite comfortable, even at Pennsic (as long as you

don't exert yourself.)  Some historians suggest the kilt was only worn

out of doors and was removed upon entering a dwelling.  This would

mean that the shirt/tunic worn underneath was long enough to preserver

modesty, which is certainly possible.  The consensus of opinion is

that they were worn all the time, and were not reserved for outerwear.


Do note that in period they were only worn by men, but in SCA are

often worn by women.  In period something similar (the illustration

wasn't real clear) was worn by women over their skirt, but it was

tucked in the waist and not taken up onto the shoulder as the great

kilt was.  On the other hand, kilts are heavy and pull at the

shoulder, even ripping a lightweight shirt, so it is quite conceivable

that the woman painted had tucked her plaid in at the waist for

reasons of comfort, and that the custom was to wear them on the

shoulder as men did.


Note that modern SCA usage says women should pin the kilt to the right

shoulder, and men to the left.  This is not documented in period in

any way shape or form. (That I know of, and I've looked into the

subject.) Men would pin it to whichever shoulder would leave them a

free arm for using a weapon.  And I imagine it was sometimes pinned to

both shoulders, for various reasons having to do  with comfort.  And

sometimes it was not pinned.  The great kilt has many virtues, but it

voluminous folds can get in the way of real work.


Legend has it that the little kilt was invented by a carpenter who got

tired of the bulk.  He removed his great kilt, cut it in half and wore

it as a cloak and a little kilt, the cloak being laid aside during

work or warm weather.  This is no doubt (in my mind) part of the

Apocrypha of Scottish culture.  But it does sound plausible.


Sorry I can't name my documentation, it's been a long time since I

looked into this matter and having settled it to my satisfaction, I

ceased to worry about it.  


Awilda Halfscot, sometimes Halfdane



From: ddfr at quads.uchicago.edu (david director friedman)

Date: 22 Oct 91 03:47:28 GMT

Organization: University of Chicago


Everyone knows that period Scotsmen wore Skean Dhu's (stocking

knives). So far as I can tell, they are actually an invention of the

Celtic Revival, c. 1800. The Scottish Dirk is earlier, but there seem

to be no examples before 1600, although it may be a descendant of the

period ballock dagger. The present system of clan tartans is

apparently a forgery by the brothers Sobieski-Stuart, c. 1800,

although tartan patterns go way back.





Subject: Scottish Persona Question

Date: 31 May 92

From: boris at sys6626.bison.mb.ca (boris)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Organization: system 6626 BBS, Winnipeg MB




I am amazed at the number of people who aren't willing to walk over

to an encyclopedia and look something up.


dates :

        1500's  tartans come into use, predominatly in the

                northern highlands.

        1715  The earl of mar brings the tartan to public attention.

                  (ie widespread knowledge )

        1745  tartan and highland dress banned. Most tartan patterns

              lost.  most modern tartans date from the 18th century.



Until the middle of the 1700's both men and women of the highlands

wore 'simple' clothing made of tartan.  The men wore a 'feile-mor',

which was a rectangular piece of cloth 5 or 6 yards long and 54 inches

wide. The lower 22 inches or so were pleated onto a belt and secured

around the waist. The shorter edge fell to just above the knee, while

the remainder was used as a cloak over the head or shoulders and

pinned on one shoulder. It was often used as a blanket at night, but

mostly severed as a 'coat'.


It should be noted that the pleats of the feilemor were not stiched

in as in the modern kilt and that they were held in place only by the

belt. The military were the first to stich the 'kilt' in the late



Triubhas or trews are as old as the feilemor. Of tartan cut on the

cross, (on-the-cross means with the lines running diagonally to the

horizontal) with the feet tailored in and worn inside the shoes.

Garters were worn at the knee to prevent bagging. The trews were

favored by gentlemen of the times. Only occasionally were the

trews separated into breeches and hose.


A very long shirt was worn, long enough to be quite decently dressed

in it alone.


Often many different tartans were worn at the same time. By this I

mean the trews would be different from the hose and both would be

different again from the cloak. Fairly common. It drives the

uneducated up a wall when you do it too.


The sporran originated as a bag worn on the belt. The modern version

is very stylized and decorative version of the common english purse of

the middle ages. It was plain leather and often highly decorated.


The balmoral bonnet of knitted wool is at least 500 years old,

while the flat wedge-shaped glengarry bonnet favored today was

only invented in the early 1800's.


Shoes are straight forward style of the time. Same as in england.

Though in earliest times were of untanned hide. Cuaran (sock-like

boots) were made of horse or cow hide and were worn to just below the

knee. They were shaped to the form of the leg and secured in place

with thongs. Though it was common practise to go bare-legged or



Arms consisted of bows and arrows, spears, swords, dirks, axes,

shields and later firearms.

Expert archers were very common. The claymore is the older sword most

commonly used. the broadsword is fairly modern. Very good with the

claymore they were without equal with the dirk. Shields or targes were

also common.


wickerwork was common.


As far as what tartan to wear, wear whatever strikes your fancy.

the idea of wearing a 'clan' tartan is a modern one, and many people

in days of old wore whatever the weaver produced or had tartans

invented or modified. trends or a good weaver would set the 'common'

tartan of a village or district but borrowing from distant areas was a

common practise.  ANYONE can wear a tartan.  If they tell you that you

have no right to the tartan then laugh at them.  Clan badges are an

entirely different thing though as each is usually the personal badge

of the clan chief.


Early tartans are likely to have been simple chequered cloth, with the

plaids and elaborate tartans evolving much later.


All this from a coupla Scottish Clan and Tartan history texts from

Scotland and written by Scots.    A lot of lore got lost as a result of

the oral traditions and after the failure of the jacobite rebellions.


hope it helps.




;E-mail: boris at sys6626.bison.mb.ca

;system 6626: 63 point west drive, winnipeg manitoba canada R3T 5G8



Subject: Scottish Persona Question

Date: 26 May 92

From: ewright at convex.com (Edward V. Wright)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Organization: Engineering, CONVEX Computer Corp., Richardson, Tx., USA


In <1992May26.122406.25733 at dartvax.dartmouth.edu> nathans at coos.dartmouth.edu (Nathan Shafer) writes:


>1) What's the earliest that the [I don't remember the Gaelic spelling, so

>   I have to go phonetic] "breck'n faile", the precursor to the kilt in

>   which the pleats were folded in and belted, not sewn in, was worn? I

>   want to make my persona as early as possible.


I'm afraid you're not going to like the answer.  The more recent books

on the subject all seem to indicate that the belted plaid, the predecessor

of the modern kilt, does not go back nearly as far as once believed.  

Apparently, the idea that the kilt had origins "lost in the midst of

antiquity" originated with 18th Century Scottish poets, and later authorities

repeated this as fact without bothering to check it.  Modern research seems

to indicate that the belted plaid originated in the Scottish Highlands

sometime around the early 1600's and did not become universally popular

until the mid-to-late 1600's.  The earliest reference to something which

might be a belted plaid seems to be a description of Scottish mercenaries

who arrived in Ireland in the 1580's wearing "fringed cloaks beneath their

belts" (or something very close to that).  Prior to this, it appears that

Scots wore trousers or "trewes" (not to be confused with the short pants,

also called "trewes," which are worn underneath a kilt).



>2) If at some point I should become interested in Court goings-on, I

>   assume I should acquire some garb that is more formal, yes? What is

>   available to Scotsman tyhat would be period and accurate? The dress

>   kilt, with all the flashy accoutrements, would not be available in

>   the time period I'm thinking about.


Portraits of Mary, Queen of Scots and her husband, Lord Darney, show them

in what appears to be more-or-less standard Tudor-Elizabethan costumes. If

it's good enough for them...


-- Nicholas van Leyden



Newsgroups: soc.culture.celtic,rec.org.sca

From: gleason at scf16.scf.loral.com (Robert Gleason)

Subject: Re: Instructions for ancient kilt - feileadh mor

Organization: Loral Space and Range Systems, Sunnyvale, CA

Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1993 16:11:28 GMT


Ok. Here's how I fold my great kilt. It's not the only way to do it but

it works for me...


I take 6 yards of plaid, or roughly twice the length from my hands

extended above my head to the floor, 60" wide and fanfold it so it

unfolls easily. (Note: some use 8-10 yards but that's silly and is

too bulky and keeps in too much heat.)


Take one edge of the fabric and measure in 1 cubit (elbow to fingertip)

Pleat the rest of the plaid (deeply) until there is 1 cubit unpleated

on the other end. You want the pleats deep enough and close enough

together to form 1 cubit of pleats. For me that's wrist-to-fingertip

deep and 1.5" to 2" apart.


Take a belt and slide it under the plaid across the pleats. Lie down

on top of the pleats having the fabric end at the knee (or just above

if you wanna show them off). Adjust the belt to where your waist is.

Put the right edge of the plaid over your body. Now the left. Cinch

the belt to fit.


Now stand up. You'll notice that in front you have 4 layers of

fabric; the outer two longer than the inner two. There are two ways

to go with these:


Method 1: Take the corner of

the first layer and twist to bunch the fabric.  Tuck this under itself

and into the belt under it to keep it there.  Put on another belt and

a sporan over the plaid. Take the second layer at the corner and twist.

Pull this around

the back and over your shoulder. Affix to shirt with a brooch or pin;

or to belt with a length of cord.


Method 2: Do the same for the first and second layer in this method

that you did for the first layer in method 1. This keep the plaid off

your shoulders (cooler), doesn't put holes on your shirts, and doesn't

slode off your shoulder all the time.


You may want to take the outer layer in back and tuck it over and into

your outer belt to give you better ventilation.  


Be sure to get a pin to keep the front 2 layers together. Especiallly

when going regemental.


It takes a little practice but when you get the hang of it, you can do

this in under 8 minutes.


Parlan MacGillivray



Robert Gleason  

>> gleason at scf28.scf.loral.com



From: mortonr at pica.ARmy.MIL

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Instructions for ancient kilt - feileadh mor

Date: 22 Jul 1993 10:24:49 -0400

Organization: The Internet


Greetings to all who travel here!


>Method 1: Take the corner of

>the first layer and twist to bunch the fabric.  Tuck this under itself

>and into the belt under it to keep it there.  Put on another belt and

>a sporan over the plaid. Take the second layer at the corner and twist.

>Pull this around

>the back and over your shoulder. Affix to shirt with a brooch or pin;

>or to belt with a length of cord.


        I've always used a slighty different method for the outside "tails".

Instead of only throwing one end over my shoulder and tucking the other end into

my belt, I gather up both ends and sling them over my shoulder, fastening them to

one another with a cloak pin.  The right "tail goes up my back and the left

across my chest.  When I wear a blade, I reverse this arrangement.  The advantage

is that the folds of cloth form a pouch to one side.  I've successfully stored up to

6 cloven lemons, a bottle of mead, a gobblet and my tam in there without the cloth

looking unduly bulky.  Also, if the weather turns cold, you can always unclasp the

"tails" and wrap the front one around your body and the gather the back one over your

shoulders. Last Pennsic, I had lent my heavy cloak to a lady I was with and sat

at a bardic circle freezing until I suddenly recalled that my kilt was originally

intended to be worn as a cloak/blanket.  I bundled myself up and was tolerably warm

for the rest of the songs.


        The major disadvantage is that the cloak clasp, depending on hou you place it,

could stick either yourself or someone hanging on your arm.  I always make sure that

any ladies with me walk on the "safe" side.


                       -Malcolm Douglas



From: odlin at reed.edu (Iain Odlin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Anachronisms

Date: 21 Jul 1994 07:00:35 GMT

Organization: The Stuffed Animal Trauma Team  (We're Trained Professionals)


>[Question about historicity of Kilts]...


One of these days, I'm actually going to get around to preparing that FAQ

sheet about kilts...  Along with the TI article (or was it a CA issue?)...


Ah well.  The extremely short form:


The 'kilt' (as in, a long strip of 'plaid'-ish or chequey wool cloth wrapped

about the body -- usually pleated at the waist and held with a belt -- more

interestingly than just throwing it over the shoulders and calling it a

cloak) can only be reliably documented back about to 1520.  At that point,

it was an *exclusively* Highland mode of dress.  Before 1520, the Highlanders

apparently had the same cloak/shirt/trews combo everyone else in history

has had.


The little kilt (what modern folks think of as kilts) can only be *sketchily*

documented to 1645;  The British have this vain conceit that has polluted

all Histories that came thereafter, though:  It is claimed that the small

kilt was invented by a British overseer for either a smithy or a road con-

struction crew comprised of Scots who were "too stupid" to remove all that

extra wool in about 1700.  Perhaps true; perhaps not.  Arrogant as all Hell,



The tartans as we know them today were nearly all invented on the occasion

of King George the (IV?)'s visit to Scotland in (1828? -- my books are mostly

still in boxes, damnit) by the Brothers Sobieski -- weavers extraordinare,

and quick to smell a profit in Invented Ancient Authenticity.  It was all

the rage, you know!


Some time in the future, I fully intend to flesh this all out, but it'll

all have to get in line with all the other things that need doing;  like

fixing my car... *sigh*


Hope it's helped a wee bit.


------------------------- Iain Odlin, odlin at reed.edu -------------------------

                     42 Clifton Street, Portland ME 04101

----------------- Never teach your pet rust monster to fetch -----------------



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: ddfr at quads.uchicago.edu (david director friedman)

Subject: Re: Anachronisms

Organization: University of Chicago

Date: Sat, 23 Jul 1994 03:20:49 GMT


"The tartans as we know them today were nearly all invented on the

occasion of King George the (IV?)'s visit to Scotland in (1828? -- my

books are mostly still in boxes, damnit) by the Brothers Sobieski --

weavers extraordinare, and quick to smell a profit in Invented

Ancient Authenticity.  It was all  the rage, you know!"

(Iain Odlin)


I do not believe the brothers Sobieski-Stuart were weavers. My

impression was that they were a pair of early 19th century confidence

men who purported to be descended from the royal houses of both

Poland and Scotland, and made their living off the celtophile

nobility. They claimed to have an ancient book showing the

traditional clan tartans, seem to have been very unwilling to show

them to anyone else.


Like Iain, I am relying on memory. Perhaps he, or someone else, can

correct or amplify this.





From: odlin at reed.edu (Iain Odlin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Anachronisms

Date: 25 Jul 1994 06:54:13 GMT

Organization: The Stuffed Animal Trauma Team  (We're Trained Professionals)



Good m'Lord Cariadoc asks if I can expand on what I posted earlier about

the brothers Sobieski.


  I only wish I could.  I have just spent the last three hours tearing apart

every box full of my possessions (I recently moved) and was completely

unable to find my files of photocopies and notes on the subject.  Which,

of course, has put me in a stellar mood...


[And the spacebar on my computer has seen fit to start dying now, too --

  I have to hit it nine or so times for it to register -- which is helping

my mood no end...]


But:  I was able to find something else of interest to anyone curious.

My copy of the book "The King's Jaunt," by John Prebble -- an account of

King George the IV's visit to Scotland in August of 1822 and the plots and

ramificiations surrounding the trip.  Most significantly, the almost whole-

sale fabrication of Scotland's "History," including dress.  I'd say more

but I am having extreme difficulty even saying this much...  I highly

recommend this book to anyone interested in Scottish history, if only to

help you to seperate the wheat from the chaff of what is 'known' about

Scottish history.


------------------------- Iain Odlin, odlin at reed.edu -------------------------

                     42 Clifton Street, Portland ME 04101



From: Gretchen Miller <grm+ at andrew.cmu.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Anachronisms

Date: Thu, 21 Jul 1994 12:55:06 -0400

Organization: Computer Operations, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA


Excerpts from netnews.rec.org.sca: 20-Jul-94 Anachronisms The

Ulair at eagle.wesleyan (1109)


> I have just been reading a tretise which, among other things, claims

> that the kilt was invented {by an Englishman no less} around 1727. Previous to

> this, it claims that many Scots wore a long plaid shirt, belted at the waist.

>      The kilt supposedly caught fire in Scotland after the British outlawed

> it in the 1740's or 1750's. No need for those Scots to try and behave in

> Non-British ways, is there? Suddenly everyone wanted a kilt as a badge of

> Scottishness and further began fighting over who had claim to what plaid

> pattern. This all received sanction in the early 1800's when Sir Walter Scott

> claimed an ancient origin for kilts and tartans.

>             Does anyone have any idea if this is even remotely true?


Yeesh, where DID you find this treatise?  This sounds like a very bad

mishmash of history, and misunderstood and misread secondary sources.

If you want a good account, check out a little book called:


"So you're going to wear a kilt"


It has a Scotsman in a kilt on the cover, and is available at most

Celtic stores.


The earliest documented Great Kilt discussed in most books is from

1550--the time that the Irish dress, a long SAFFRON colored shirt belted

at the waist, was banned by the English in Ireland.  Previous to this

time, the Highland Scots dressed pretty much like their Irish cousins.

The kilt caught on big time as we roll into the 17th century.  After the

last Jacobite rebellion (around 1740), the kilt was banned in

Scotland--except for regiments like the Black Watch, who were in London

anyhow-- However, about 30 years after this, two fellows published a

forgery that they claimed was an ancient book describing the various

"clan" tartans of Scotland.  THIS is what first fired the imaginations

of everyone in regards to the kilt, and inspired Walter Scott to write

about the ancient and honorable clan tartan.--Kilts came back into usage

around this time, and finally became high fashion when Queen Victoria

went to Balmoral and discovered that she really liked watching all those

husky Ghillies running around in thier Skirts--"Here is clothing for

Mannly Men!" she proclaimed, and kilts have been "in" ever since.


Hope this helps.


toodles, margaret



From: AuntieS at aol.COM

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: All Kilts Great and Small

Date: 22 Jul 1994 20:42:28 -0400

Organization: the internet


Jotun asked about the (small)kilt -- the pleated plaid skirt type kilt --

and its 18th century origins.


>> I have just been reading a tretise which, among other things, >>claims

that the kilt was invented {by an Englishman no less} >>around 1727. Previous

to this, it claims that many Scots wore a >>long plaid shirt, belted at the



Marke (squired to a Scot)replied:

>This treatise of which you speak must have be written by  >someone who

hasn't visited the British Museum. The museum has >an article of clothing

refered to as a 'military skirt.' The skirt >was owned by Henry VIII and the

skirt looks like a modern pleated >kilt. It's hard to invent some-thing thats

be around for 150 years.


   Sorry, Marke, but Jotun's treatise is more or less correct.  (Except for

long plaid "shirt" part, which, unless it refers to a plaid tunic, probably

should read "skirt.")  The "military skirt" is absolutely nothing like a

kilt, modern or otherwise.  They are shaped differently, constructed

differently, served different purposes and were worn differently.

   The modern or small kilt -- in Gaelic, feilebeg (spelling varies) --  is

indeed an 18th century development, and the 19th century development of the

modern "Clan tartan" system is also well documented.

   For an SCA-period kilt -- a great-kilt, or feile-mor -- you'll need about

6 yards of 60" wide plaid wool, in a plaid that does not resemble any

existing Clan tartans.  (Or 12 yds of 30" fabric, cut in half and sewed

together on the long edge -- it's easier to hand-weave this way.)  Put on a

long yellow (linen) shirt, long enough to be decent when you're kneeling on

the ground, pleating your plaid.  Spread your plaid out and start pleating

it. Then remember that you should have put your belt down first; curse, and

slip the belt under the pleats.  Position yourself on the pleated plaid and

roll yourself up in it.  Adjust 27 pounds of wool in graceful folds, and wear

with pride.  You're good to well into the 18th century.

   Well, maybe you'd better find someone to show you how in person -- it

loses a little in the translation.   ;-)   If you can't find anyone, there's

a pretty clear description with diagrams in "So You Want to Wear the Kilt,"

available at Scottish shops and festivals.

   Read: "A History of Highland Dress" by John Telfer Dunbar and "Scottish

Costume 1550-1850" by Stuart Maxwell.  Avoid "Tartans" by Christian Hesketh

and the TI article on the same subject, which is largely plagarized from

Hesketh. McIan's "Costumes of the Clans" is easily available as a remainder,

but is, well, pretty imaginative when it comes to early costume.

   Hope this helps.  I'm looking forward to seeing more men in (great)kilts!


Auntie Signy   :   Baroness Signy Dimmridaela, OL

"Why do they wear the kilt in the Highlands?"  "The sound of zippers

frightens the sheep."



From: connect at aol.com (CONNECT)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb: Scottish female

Date: 27 Oct 1994 10:53:03 -0400

Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)


In article <Pine.SOL.3.90.941026160800.865C-100000 at lars.acc.stolaf.edu>,

Katherine A Reilly <reilly at stolaf.edu> writes:


Is there anyone in the known world who knows what a Highland woman would

have worn?


In the Rainments catalog, they list a number of books, but one I've toyed

with purchasing is Beyond the Pale: A survey of Gaelic Garb 1500-1650

written by Lord Cormac MacCliuin o Dumhnaill. The description reads

Construction of the common dress of the "wild" Irish and Scots of the 16th

and early 17th centuries. The price of the publication is $5.


Rainments can be reached at PO Box 93095, Pasadena, CA 91109, (818)

797-2723 [T-TH 10am-4pm] FAX (818) 791-9434 or via email at

72437.674 at compuserve.com.


Pattie Rayl



From: macdonpc at nbnet.nb.ca (Paul M. Mac donald)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb: Scottish female

Date: Sun, 30 Oct 1994 00:56:55 AST

Organization: home


On Wed, 26 Oct 1994 16:11:13 -0500 (CDT), reilly at stolaf.edu writes:

>Is there anyone in the known world who knows what a Highland woman would

>have worn?  I have tried every source I know of and can get a hold of,

>which is not that impressive.  Are there any books around where i can

>find this information out?  Or perhaps some kindly Scotswoman?  \

>Thanks in advance,


While the documentation is slack, my research (a number of years ago, for the

California RenFaires) led me to a long chemise/shift type garment and a

"plaid", which meant several yards of wool, usually plaid but not what we

call tartan (pre that trend, actually).  It was worn several ways, but the

one I liked was:  touching the ground in back (the cut end), belted around

the waist, the rest (about 2 yards more, I think) folded and draped around

the shoulders, or over the head if it's cold out.  Hope this helps.


Catherine Mac donald/Kaththea verKaeysc

macdonpc at nbnet.nb.ca



From: sapalmer at magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu (Sharon A Palmer)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb: Scottish female

Date: 28 Oct 1994 22:42:41 GMT

Organization: The Ohio State University


In article <38oesf$224 at newsbf01.news.aol.com>, CONNECT <connect at aol.com> wrote:

>with purchasing is Beyond the Pale: A survey of Gaelic Garb 1500-1650

>written by Lord Cormac MacCliuin o Dumhnaill. The description reads

>Construction of the common dress of the "wild" Irish and Scots of the 16th

>and early 17th centuries. The price of the publication is $5.


I have a copy of this, which I purchased at Pennsic several years

ago. It was published in 1987 by Moongate Designs, 44791 Windmill

Drive, Canton, MI 48187.  Phone 313-451-6839.  I have no idea if the

phone number is still good.


This is not an area where I have a lot of expertise, but this seems

sound. It is a typical SCA pubication, with pictures from various

sources, some redrawn, but with the sources listed and a bibliography.

The bib. does not list any primary sources, but the illustrations

include several in-period ones, presumably copied from the secondary



It covers men's and women's garb and changes thru the listed times.





From: odlin at reed.edu (Iain Odlin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb for mid-15th C. Highlander

Date: 2 Nov 1994 06:54:03 GMT

Organization: The Stuffed Animal Trauma Team  (We're Trained Professionals)


In article <396ote$d7l at newsbf01.news.aol.com>,

LXA II 503 <lxaii503 at aol.com> wrote:

>What would be appropriate garb for a mid-15th C. highland Scotsman?  What

>tartans, if any, are considered period?


Short form:  Appropraite garb for a Highlander from the 1400's is a big

"saffron" shirt, generic barbarian pants (semi-optional), a fuzzy wool

mantle (*mantle*, not kilt), and -- for the well-off -- a tight doublet

with loose arms (the name of which escapes me for the moment).  Also

optionally, a rough shoe of leather (generally deerskin with the hair still

on and on the *outside*) called a cruaran was worn.


No kilts at this point.  Their dress is similar/identical to the Irish

of the same period.


Undoubtedly, colourful "chequey" or "stripey" woolens were to be had, but

no tartan of today is period in either form (what little evidence we have

suggests that the symmetry and patterning seen in modern tartan was un-

heard of in period) or colour.


More later, perhaps.


------------------------- Iain Odlin, odlin at reed.edu -------------------------

                     42 Clifton Street, Portland ME 04101



From: caradoc at enet.net (John Groseclose)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb for mid-15th C. Highlander

Date: Thu, 03 Nov 1994 10:03:35 -0700

Organization: Who? Me? Organized?


In article <397d2b$jud at scratchy.reed.edu>, odlin at reed.edu (Iain Odlin) wrote:


>   Short form:  Appropraite garb for a Highlander from the 1400's is a big

>   "saffron" shirt, generic barbarian pants (semi-optional), a fuzzy wool

>   mantle (*mantle*, not kilt), and -- for the well-off -- a tight doublet

>   with loose arms (the name of which escapes me for the moment).  Also

>   optionally, a rough shoe of leather (generally deerskin with the hair still

>   on and on the *outside*) called a cruaran was worn.


I believe that doublet to which you refer is called a "iolain," but it's

been quite some time since I did my research, and I couldn't afford that

particular book at the time. Now that I could probably afford it, I can't

find it.





John D. Groseclose <caradoc at enet.net>



From: tperreau at newshost.aoc.nrao.edu (Barney O'Borg)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb for mid-15th C. Highlander

Date: 2 Nov 1994 02:01:43 -0700

Organization: National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Socorro NM


In article <396ote$d7l at newsbf01.news.aol.com>,

LXA II 503 <lxaii503 at aol.com> wrote:

>What would be appropriate garb for a mid-15th C. highland Scotsman?  What

>tartans, if any, are considered period?


I wonder if this information should not be included in the FAQ,

since a lot of people ask what tartans are "period".


In a word: none.


All the tartans that you see in the various books, catalogs of kilts,

etc. etc. -- they are all modern, dating from the Scottish revival of

the 1800s -- this was, of course, the same time of the Highland

Clearances. Two brothers, the Soibieski (sp?) Stuarts, were reported

to have had in their posession a book that had all the tartans for

the clans of Scotland, and they sold the pattern(s) to the various

Scottish nobles and clans.


All this dates back to the last Jacobite Rebellion in 1745.  After the

defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Scots at Culloden, the

'Highland' way of life was smashed.  The wearing of the filibeg, or

kilt, was banned; the bagpipe was banned as an instrument of war; the

Scots had to surrender their weapons; many homes were plundered during

the English occupation of Scotland, even those homes of supporters of

the English army.


If any pattern books did exist, and if any clan did have a specific

pattern (the 'tartan'), then it was lost during this time.  Then,

about a hundred years later, the Scottish revival began.  Along come

the Stuarts, who claim to be related to Bonnie Prince Charlie.  The

Scots nobles were looking for a tartan of their clan, and gee, it just

so happened that the Stuarts had a book with _all_ the patterns.  No

one but the Stuart brothers ever saw this 'book,' so it's existance

is hard to believe.  All the patterns for the various clans, clan

cheif tartans, regional tartans -- all date from the mid-1800s to the



Now, what _is_ period?


The great kilt, sometimes called the 'brecan fil'.  The great kilt

seems to have evolved from the Irish article of wear known as a bratt,

which was pretty much a length of cloth that was belted and pulled

around as a protection against the elements.


The great kilt contains 9 yards of material, and when properly

pleated, is very comfortable to wear.  As an aside, the term "The

whole nine yards..." that one hears in the military apparently stems

from the amount of cloth in the great kilt.  There was enough material

in the great kilt for a person to roll up several times, keeping them

warm against the cold ground -- note that you could roll up a couple

of people several times in 27 feet of material.


It is also period for the kilt to be 'checkered' or to have a

checkered pattern -- what is commonly known today as the plaid (pron.

played, not plad) -- a tartan is a plaid assigned to a clan, region,

etc. That the Celtic people wore checkered patterns is not new,

dating back to the Roman era.  Besides, a checkered pattern, or plaid,

is very easy to make when weaving.  So we know that Celts, if not

liked a plaid, at least wore it -- so we can assume that the great

kilt was plaid as well (we can also assume that there were great kilts

of uniform coloration).


Unless the weaver was rich, the wool was dyed from local materials.

The great kilts would then take on the coloration of the local area.

Please keep in mind that these colors are muted, not very brilliant as

what you find today.  Most kilt suppliers provide an 'ancient'

coloration of the plaid -- what it would look like if made with

natural dyes.  They also provide a 'weathered' plaid -- what it would

look like when exposed to the elements after years -- please note that

these are _not_ made with natural dyes, but synthetic ones.


What did the plaids look like?


Hard to tell, really.  The best that we can come up with is that there

is a famous painting of Culloden which portrays the Highland charge

against the British line.  The painter used actual prisioners from

Culloden in the painting.  The Highlanders wore plaid kilts and coats

that didn't match.  There was no 'clan' uniformity among the

Highlanders at least in terms of the plaid.  It is also interesting to

note that the plaids that are in the painting _do not exist_ in the

modern tartans at all.


It can be best said that each weaver made their plaid differently, and

that no two patterns were identical, at least given the painting as a

primary source.


You mean there is no correlation between clan tartans and wear in



The only example that exists, as far as I know, is that there was a

reciept for rents from tenents on land held by the Hunter clan.  The

document is from the late 15th Century, and specifies 3 bolts of cloth

in white, green, and black.  Interestingly enough, these are colors in

the tartan of Hunter, along with red.  This is, however, the only

proof that I know of where we have a direct correlation between a clan

and _at least_ the colors in their tartan -- note that this does not

mean the the current Hunter tartan is the actual pattern (plaid) that

they wore in period.


So what do I do?


Wear what you want!  At one time, there was a unwritten rule that only

a member of the clan could wear that clan tartan.  The Lord Lyon of

Arms, the chief Herald of Scotland, has stated that anyone can wear

any tartan of their choice, reguardless if they are of that clan or

not -- that by wearing the tartan you are showing your 'support' for

that clan.  Tartans such as the Royal Stewart, Black Watch, and Rob

Roy are pretty much public domain any more -- go to a cloth store and

look at the plaid material and you'll find at least one of the three

there, if not all of them.


There are plaids that "seem" more ancient than others in that their

pattern is rather simplistic.  Given the weaving technology in period,

the simpler the pattern, the more "realistic" it looks.  Such tartans

are: Black Watch, Clergy*, Cranston, Dunbar, Erskine, Glasgow (city

of), Kerr, Livingstone, MacColl, MacDonald Clan, MacDonald/Isles

(red), MacDonald/Sleat, MacDuff, MacIntosh, MacQuarrie, Matheson,

Maxwell, Middleton, Moffat, Rob Roy MacGregor, Robertson, Ross,

Sinclair, Skene, Stewart/Atholl.  All these have rather simplistic

patterns and have in general 3 colors maximum (or at least that is

what I can tell from the catalog "The Scottish Lion Import Shop" when

looking under modern colors).


* Clergy is not listed.  It is, however, very much like the Black

Watch except that the pattern is even more simplistic -- looking very

much like a black and dark green Rob Roy with large checks.


Some quick terms:


plaid (played):  the pattern of the checks

tartan:              a plaid associated to a clan, region, city, or

               military force

kilt:         an article of wear, there are two types

        great: 9 yards of material, unpleated, most likely evolved

               from the Irish bratt

        small:         what you typically get when you buy a kilt,

               constructed from 8 yds. of material, can be pleated

               either to Sett or Stripe

               Sett - what majority of kilts are pleated to, when

                       looked at from the rear, the pleats form a

                       large plaid pattern

               Stripe - regimental wear, pleats folded on major

                       stripes in the plaid

(Note -- men wear kilts, women wear skirts.  The kilt should come to



Cost of cloth (from "The Scottish Lion" - not the cheapest of places)

Light weight (9-9.5 oz) 54" wide        $ 52.00 / yd Wool

        Use: neckties, light skirts, hangings, banners

Regular weight (11-11.5 oz) 60" wide   $ 55.00 / yd Worsted

        Use: kilted skirts, drapes, trousers, most clothing

Heavy weight (12-13 oz) 56" wide        $ 58.00 / yd Worsted

        Use: kilts, upholstery


I hope this helps...


Ld. Torcail Gilleghaolain


*** "A little rebellion now and then is a good thing; the tree of liberty ***

*** must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and   ***

*** tyrants."      Thomas Jefferson                                  ***




From: caradoc at enet.net (John Groseclose)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb for mid-15th C. Highlander

Date: Fri, 04 Nov 1994 12:59:23 -0700

Organization: Who? Me? Organized?


In article <destryCyps13.67F at netcom.com>, destry at netcom.com (Max

Fellwalker) wrote:


>    Yes, but how does one properly pleat 27 feet of fabric to avoid

> looking like a rolled rug? Does any one have a kilt-pleating diagram they

> can recommend?


>       -Max-


I pleat mine by placing my belt on the floor or ground, and laying the

plaid lengthwise along it. Leave about 18-22" on either side as the

"apron" flaps, and make your pleats about the width of your hand. Takes me

about 10-15 minutes now, since I have a larger pavilion. Please, if you

value your sanity, do *not* attempt to pleat a breacan feile in a dome




John D. Groseclose <caradoc at enet.net>

One more person who will NEVER buy anything inappropriately

advertised on the UseNet. Ever. Especially things advertised by

Canter and Siegel, the Green Card Cyberslugs!



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: wyldefyr at netcom.com (Wylde Fyre)

Subject: Re: Garb for mid-15th C. Highlander

Organization: NETCOM On-line Communication Services (408 261-4700 guest)

Date: Fri, 4 Nov 1994 22:17:30 GMT


Max Fellwalker (destry at netcom.com) wrote:

:   Yes, but how does one properly pleat 27 feet of fabric to avoid

: looking like a rolled rug? Does any one have a kilt-pleating diagram they

: can recommend?


Eek. This is one of those things that's easy to do (once you know how)

but near impossible to /explain/. It'd be much easier if you could have

someone show you, but I'll give an attempt at describing how /I/ do it

(note: there are probably several ways of folding a kilt, I'm merely

pointing out how I've been doing it):


1. Lay out your fabric on the ground. THis will take lots of space, so

beware. :)

2. Looking at the pattern of the plaid, determine in your mind where one

'row' begins and the next ends (my plaid has 'rows' about 4-6 inches wide,

I think)

3. Sit at one end of the fabric, looking down the length. Reach forward,

across the fabric, and grab the edge of the 6-9th row, and pull it towards

you 3 1/2 rows, creating a fold, or pleat. After this initial pleat, you

should have about 18-24" of flat material between you and the pleat.

4. Look at the edge of the pleat that's facing you. Start from that edge

and count away from you 4 rows. Grab the edge of that row, and pull it

back 3 1/2 rows. This will create your second pleat, layered slightly

with the first.

5. Continue step 4 until you've pleated the entirety of the length,

leaving approx 18-24" of flat material (This will give you 18-24" of flat

material on both sides of the pleated material.

6. Gently slip a long leather belt lengthwise under the material -

running approx under the middle.

7. Lay on the material so that the belt is at mid waist underneath you,

and so that one edge of the fabric is approx at mid-knee. You may need to

adjust the location of the belt to accomplish this.

8. /Carefully/ pull one side of the fabric over your body (I use the belt

to pull the fabric across my body, this helps keep the pleats intact),

then pull the other side of the fabric across your body as well. Secure

the belt snug.

9. Stand. This will result in the fabric draping over the belt,

effectively giving you an 'inside layer' and an 'outside layer'. The

inside layer should overlap in the front of your body by a couple of feet

or so, and the outside layer will more or less meet at the front of your


10. It is important that for the following steps, you not mess with the

'inside layer'. That is all that is protecting your modesty. :)

11. Take one of the corners of the outside layer (hanging in front of

your body) hold it away from your body, pulling the material taut. Roll the

upper edge of this slightly, then pull the layer back around your body

(exposing the 'inside layer') keeping it taut, and tuck it into your belt at

the end.

12. (This one is a little tricky) Grab the other outside layer corner

and pull it straight up to your shoulder (same side), then reach behind

you with your other  hand and grab the outside layer at the bottom edge at

the mid-point betweeen your legs, pull this up over your shoulder to meet

the corner you're currently holding.

13. Secure the two ends at your shoulder with a heavy duty cloak pin.

14. Admire yourself in the mirror. :)


A few notes: Make sure you're wearing whatever top you wnat to wear with

the kilt before you start. Tucking anything into it afterwards will be

near impossible. Also, it may take a few tries to find out how large you

prefer to make your pleats, etc.

I have no idea if anyone would be able to follow these instructions, as I

said, it's near impossible to describe how to fold a kilt. :/ But I

figured, what the heck. :)

Again, I'm sure there are about a million different ways that people pleat

their kilts, this is the way I pleat mine.


Good luck!!


[still working on a name.. :/]




| "Strangers now are his eyes to this mystery... hear the silence so loud! |

| Crack of dawn, All is gone, Except the will to be.                      |

| Now they see, What will be, Blinded eyes to see...                      |

|         - For Whom The Bell Tolls (Metallica, Ride the Lightning)       |




Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: wyldefyr at netcom.com (Wylde Fyre)

Subject: Re: kilts

Organization: NETCOM On-line Communication Services (408 261-4700 guest)

Date: Wed, 2 Nov 1994 22:01:35 GMT


Jay Brandt (rzex60 at email.sps.mot.com) wrote:

: In response to requests for a US kilt-maker. I know of one doing business


[comments about cost of modern kilts and about period kilts being nothing

more than rectangles of fabric deleted]


Depending on how 'authentic' you wish to be, you may or may not find the

following advice helpful. When originally searching for suitable fabric

for my period great kilt, I discovered that if I were to purchase an

'official' tartan, I'd pay close to $75 a yard .. and considering great

kilts require upwards of 9 yards of fabric, I opted for a more cost

efficient material. This may sound silly, but I went to Fabric Warehouse,

found a tasteful/authentic looking plaid (lots of blacks, blue's, greens,

and a touch of grey) in a wool/wool-blend, and paid about 9 dollars a

yard (maybe less, I think it was on sale). Yes, great kilts are nothing

more than a large rectangle of fabric that is pleated, wrapped, and

tucked around your body. :)... To this day I get compliments on my kilt.


Hope this helps!


[re-entering the SCA after a 4 year break, and working on a period name...]




| "Strangers now are his eyes to this mystery... hear the silence so loud! |

| Crack of dawn, All is gone, Except the will to be.                      |

| Now they see, What will be, Blinded eyes to see...                      |

|         - For Whom The Bell Tolls (Metallica, Ride the Lightning)       |




From: caradoc at enet.net (John Groseclose)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: kilts

Date: Sun, 06 Nov 1994 12:48:00 -0700

Organization: Who? Me? Organized?


In article <Cyt6rz.GzE at nucleus.com>, spechko at nucleus.com (Gary Spechko) wrote:


> My thanks to all those who responded to my request with locations where I

> may find what I seek.  Your responses were greatly appreciated.


> Thore


There's a GREAT book out there... Called "So You're Going to Wear the

Kilt." I don't have my copy with me (someone borrowed it... Argh) but it

lists all of the MODERN conventions for wearing a kilt, plus lists a few

myriad ways to wear the breacan feile. In the back are patterns for

sporrans, how to pleat a tartan rosette, and a few other tidbits.


The author also goes into some detail about the forged "clan tartans," as

he also wrote another book on the egregiousness of the Bros. Sobieski




John D. Groseclose <caradoc at enet.net>

One more person who will NEVER buy anything inappropriately

advertised on the UseNet. Ever. Especially things advertised by

Canter and Siegel, the Green Card Cyberslugs!



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: rzex60 at email.sps.mot.com (Jay Brandt)

Subject: Great-Kilt: a way to fold it (LONG)

Organization: the Polyhedron Group

Date: Wed, 9 Nov 1994 20:17:00 GMT


The following is revised and updated from an article I posted in August of

1992. Given that there has been some interest in the folding of Great

Kilts, I offer my experience...


Jason of Rosaria



For the last three years or so I have worn a great kilt to SCA events and

to various cultural fairs (such as Worldfest in Seattle WA). I figured out

how to fold it by looking at period illustrations in books on the Scottish

Clans, and by experimentation one fine night in Oregon, when a very hot

weekend turned much colder than was comfortable for the lightweight English

summer garb I had packed for an SCA tournament. I will admit that I am not

CERTAIN that this is the true and ancient method of wearing the great kilt.

In fact, as the true great kilt uses a larger amount of fabric, I’m certain

it is lacking in accuracy. But the appearance, when worn, matches the old

paintings and illustrations, and I have never had a complaint, from any

member of a Scottish Clan Association or anyone else of Scottish heritage,

that it was in any way incorrect or inappropriate in appearance. If

anything, they are usually fascinated to see it and think it looks quite

good. If anyone knows a more authentic method than the one I describe here,



The garment as I wear it consists of a single rectangle of tartan plaid,

held with a belt, a simple brass penanular broach at the shoulder, and

optionally a kilt pin where the hem overlaps. I also usually wear a shirt,

possibly a second belt, and at least a Scottish pouch called a Sporran,

which is worn in front. Other paraphernalia are simple leather shoes, socks

that reach the knee (tartan to match the kilt or solid color), a small

knife in the top of one sock, called a Skein Dubh, a larger knife worn at

the hip, called a Dirk, and possibly also a sword. The dirk and sword are

optional, and you should judge their appropriateness by where it is to be

worn and for what purpose. Certainly not for dancing or for shopping

downtown! The Skein Dubh, however, is almost always worn. It is considered

the same way we think of a pocket knife.


Undergarments are up to you. The period (pre 1600) practice seems to have

been boxer shorts with a drawstring waist. "Going Regimental" and wearing

nothing beneath the kilt appears to be a Victorian idea. It has, however,

spawned something of a legend...


Fair Maid -- "Good sir, tell me truly, is anything worn beneath the Kilt?"

Scotsman -- (chuckle) "Nay lass, it's all in fine working order." :-)


Myself, I wear either 'bicycle shorts' or mid-thigh cutoff  sweat-pants, to

prevent chafing and to avoid insect bites in awkward places. :-) It doesn't



The Shirt: The great kilt is worn with a loose, blousy white or saffron

yellow shirt, that has loose long sleeves (although sometimes only elbow

length), no collar or a 1" simple band collar, with ties at the neck and

optionally also at the wrists. The shirt just overlaps in front or is a

pull-over. If you look for "peasant blouse" patterns you will be on the

right track. It can also be worn bare chested in hot weather, if you use

one of the alternate pinning methods described below. Put the shirt on

first, if you plan to wear one!


The Kilt itself: This is a large rectangle of tartan plaid OR of a solid

color, either being done in simple earth tones. (The clan tartans were a

fairly recent innovation, mostly after 1600 AD. Before that, there were

simple regional tartans, and before that they just used simple dark solids,

often in browns and greens). Either woven wool (traditional) or cotton

flannel (for summer or wool allergies) will do. 60-inch width would be the

minimum, with 72-inch or even 84-inch width desirable if you are tall. For

a 6-foot tall, 185 pound man, eight feet is the bare minimum length, and

nine feet or more works better. The minimum rectangle is therefore about

the same as a queen-size flat bed sheet (a 7' x 8' rectangle). About seven

feet by eight feet works well. If you can add more cloth, add it to the

eight-foot dimension out to a traditional length of nine yards.


My first great kilt, which I still use, is a queen-size cotton flannel bed

sheet in a generic plaid. It doesn't look like a "cheat" when it is worn.

The thicker fabric makes up for the shorter length, at least somewhat. The

following directions assume a 7' x 8' rectangle. If you have significantly

more material, I’d fold it in half or thirds as needed, to make a rectangle

between eight and fourteen feet in length by the width of your fabric.


Folding the great kilt:


Use a belt that fits you well and has one or two notches to spare. This can

be the same belt that will support your Sporran, belt knives and other

paraphernalia. However, I have found it -much- more convenient to belt the

kilt on with a narrow belt, and hang everything else from a separate belt

after you are dressed. I have seen no evidence that the use of a second

belt is incorrect, and you won't see it when you are done. Lay the belt out

on a bed or on a large clear space on a clean section of ground. If the

belt is on a bed, place it about 24" from one edge, parallel to the side of

the bed, outer side down and buckle to the right. Pick up your plaid, and

lay it on top of the belt, with the length of the fabric running the same

direction as the belt. If the cloth has a "good side", lay that side down,

but hopefully the fabric looks pretty much the same from both sides. The

right edge of the plaid should be on the buckle, and the lower edge should

be the same distance from the belt as a measure taken from your waist to

the middle of your knee. Smooth the material out flat towards the tip of

the belt, maintaining that knee-to-waist distance from the belt to the

lower edge of the plaid. Excess material should be going up and to the

left. About six inches from the buckle, start folding the cloth towards the

buckle in loose, 2" pleats. Keep doing so until the left edge of the fabric

is even with the tip of the belt. Re-adjust the pleats as needed to make

them even. If you wanted to cheat, at this point you could pin or sew the

belt to the pleats. However, it is more historically correct and more

comfortable if you are free to adjust it later. Sewing the pleats will also

have the disadvantage of preventing the kilt from serving as a bedroll, a

tent, or some other use at need. You should now have the pleated fabric

laying on the belt. It will be a bit wider than your actual girth, and

there will be more fabric above the belt than below. Both the buckle and

the tip of the belt should be just covered by the fabric.


Putting it on:


If you have not already done so. PUT ON YOUR SHIRT! It is much easier than

doing so later, I assure you. (If you want to go without a shirt, do so

after you are familiar with this process. It is harder to fasten the kilt

without a shirt). Lay down on your left side on top of the folded kilt,

with the buckle of the belt at your waist above your left hip. Grasp the

buckle with one hand and roll yourself up in the kilt, holding the pleated

fabric tight to your body. Fasten the belt tightly, and stand up (or kneel,

if in a small tent). Adjust the pleats as necessary, so the kilt overlaps a

few inches under the buckle.


The lower part of the kilt is now in place, and the upper part is hanging

down over it, inside out. Grasp the outer, back corner of the kilt. This is

the corner that is under the buckle, on the side that comes around your

back. Hold this corner in your left hand. Take the edge of the outer layer

that was toward the ground and pull it up along your left arm, so it hangs

behind you like a cape. Where it reaches your shoulder is where you pin it

to your shirt with the broach. Do so. (If you aren't wearing a shirt, see

below). Toss the end in your left hand behind you. Grasp the outer, front

corner of the kilt. This is the corner that is under the buckle, on the

side that comes around the front. You are going to twist this part into a

roll and wrap it from left to right around your waist, going around the

front, around the back, under the loose fabric that is now hanging from

your shoulder, and tucking the end into the waist of the kilt. Holding the

edge of the kilt that hangs down from the buckle, roll the fabric loosely,

rolling from the bottom around the outside and toward the top, as you draw

it across the front of your waist. The object is to take up the loose

material. Bring it around your right side, along the belt (thus covering

the belt) and under the fabric on your back. After you get to the buckle on

your left hip, tuck the end of the fabric into the waist of the kilt. If

you have a kilt pin, use it to hold the edges of the lower part of the kilt

together where they overlap. You can do without a kilt pin, but the kilt

may occasionally open like a woman's side-split skirt, so beware, or allow

for more overlap.


Finish dressing: Now that you have it on, get on your shoes, socks, sporran

and any other accessories. Again this is much easier if belt items hang

from a second belt. The sporran is in front, just like the modern kilt.

Think of it as a leather codpiece with a storage pouch, but flat rather

than accenting what’s beneath it. For a more ancient appearance in keeping

with the style of kilt, use a simple leather sporran. The furry ones with

fancy tassels are more modern.


How to fasten it without a shirt:


There are four methods that I have found to work:


‘The sash’ (Looks similar to the standard method, but the plaid fastens to

the waist of the kilt rather than the shoulder of the shirt) --To do this,

wrap the front around your waist first, following the steps above but

skipping over the part dealing with the back outer corner and the broach.

Instead of tucking the rolled end of the kilt in near the buckle, wrap it

over the belt at the buckle and draw the tip upwards, under the belt and

back up toward the shoulder. Now draw up the back outer corner as before,

allowing some extra fabric so the cloth stretches from your left hand, over

the back of your shoulder and back down to the tip of the other outer

corner. Fasten the shoulder broach to this piece of cloth. Alternatively,

draw the back piece over the shoulder and fasten it at the waist of the

kilt with the broach.


‘The double-wrap’ (Good for hot weather, leaves the back and shoulders free

of cloth) --Proceed as above, dealing with rolling the front outer corner

first and tucking it in. Then roll the back outer corner the opposing

direction, and tuck it in. There being less fabric, it will probably end up

tucked in behind your back.


‘The cape’ (Good for cool weather, when you’d probably use the outer layer

for warmth anyway. But if it’s that cool, why aren’t you wearing a shirt?)

--Proceed as you would with a shirt. When ready to pin the cloak to the

non-existent shirt, hold that point with the left hand, and with the right

draw the continuing edge of the fabric around your neck. Fasten the normal

broach-point to this fabric in the same manner as a simple rectangular



‘Letting it hang’ -- Finally, you can simply place the bely at the

mid-point in the fabric’s width and let the outer layer hang over the inner

one. If you do this, I’d advise a wide brlt to hang the sporran from.

You’ll also want the width of the fabric to be twice the length from your

waist to mid-knee. This won’t allow for use as a cape in cold or rainy

weather, but if it’s hot enough to go about with no shirt, you probably

won’t need to use the kilt that way anyway.


Using The Great Kilt as a self-cape:


If you need a cape, draw the loose fabric on your back around you. Your

left hand remains near the corner that you grasped when fastening the kilt,

with that corner hanging over the front of your wrist. If necessary,

untwist the front part that you rolled around your waist, and wrap it

around your right arm like a toga, with about two feet hanging down in

front of your wrist. If you need a hood, draw the back part up over your

head. These maneuvers can all be done without removing the broach from your

shoulder (unless you are not wearing a shirt).


If it gets really hot, the panel that is over your shoulder can be rolled

and wrapped around your waist in a manner similar to the outer front. (See

the ‘double wrap’ instructions for wearing it without a shirt).


Enjoy your great kilt!



Regards, Jay Brandt --- Austin, Texas, USA --- <rzex60 at email.sps.mot.com>

In the SCA, HLS Jason of Rosaria, JdL, GdS, AoA --------- (Member # 3016)

Owner / Designer / Craftsman ------------------------- Bear Paw Woodworks



From: resmith at huey.cc.utexas.edu (Robert Smith)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: 16th c. Highland Dress

Date: 10 Nov 1994 15:43:46 -0600

Organization: The University of Texas at Austin; Austin, Texas


I've seen several posts on Highland dress and thought I'd toss in my 2p.


From _Renaissance Armies_ by George Gush:


"In the 16th Century the Highlanders, if not equipped with a helmet, would

be bare-headed, but in the 17th Century they adopted the blue bonnet from

the Lowlanders. Basic costume also changed around the turn of hte century:

16th Century Highland dress consisted of the 'leine croich', a linen knee-

length shirt, usually dyed yellow with saffron, and worn with a voluminous

mantle or plaid secured with a brooch. After 1600 the leine disappeared and

was replaced with the 'belted plaid' which gave the appearance of the later

kilt and plaid.

        In both centuries short coats an trews could be worn, the latter in the

16th Century sometimes knee-length...

        The only protection commonly worn by 16th Century Highlanders was a

tar-stiffened leine covered with deerskin, but in any case they often stripped

for battle, though sometimes retaining the shirt, the sides of which were tucked

into the belt, the resultant tails at the front and rear being tied between the


        Plaids, often trews, and sometimes jackets were chequered, striped, or

particoloured, frequently in early tartan patterns which were simple and with

a large set (sic). As yet they did not identify clans, and a simpl

black and reD 'Rob Roy' styles seems to have been popular."


From _Scottish Military Dress_ by Peter Cochrane:


        "The early Scots may have brought with them from Ireland the leine

chroich, an outer garment of linen, perhaps padded or quilted, which was dyed

saffron when worn by notables; but it was the striped or variegated mantle

which caught the eye of sixteenth-century observers. The derivation of the

word tartan is obscure... [H]ard cloth of the Highlands was woven from dyed

yarn in patterns of squares or checks, the easiest way of weaving a decorative



So the use of the Great Kilt, or breacan feileadh, as a medieval garment is

questionable. At best it arrived only in the last decades of the 16th c. But

who can tell for sure. It may have been worn for some time before being

chronicled by outside observers.


This brings me to the next subject, the Great Kilt itself. Many posters have

quoted a length of material of 9 yards, from which our saying 'the whole

nine yards' comes. But we sould be aware that this is 9 yds of single width

material. Most modern tartan cloth is made double width (60" - 72"). You

only need 4.5 to 5 yds of such material. Thus, the length should be

around 15 feet and width 6ft. These dimensions come from _Scottish Military

Dress_ and _So You're Going To Wear the Kilt_ by J. Charles Thompson, F.S.T.S.


Most common Highland weapons were the bow and the two-handed sword (claymore -

actually this anglicization of the scots has been used to describe both the

2-handed sword and the later basket-hilted broad sword). In addition most

carried a round leather targe shield and dirk. Despite English propaganda to

the contrary, Highland archers were greatly feared by their opponents and

valued by Scottish commanders.


One final note. The dress described above is for Highland 'clansmen' - that is

commoners. Nobles would follow military and civilian fashions of the English

and French Nobility, as tomb carvings indicate. In addition, Lowland Scots

dressed and fought differently, wearing padded jerkins, sometimes over chain,

and fighting in dense spear or pike blocks called schiltrons.



From: z009341b at bcfreenet.seflin.lib.fl.us (Victoria Gilliam)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Rob Roy (OOP)

Date: 1 May 1995 21:29:26 GMT

Organization: SEFLIN Free-Net - Broward


For those good gentles who wished me to repost the article from the

Historical Costume ListServ on the Rob Roy clothing (and why it is OOP),

here is said information:


From KATHLEEN at ANSTEC.COM Mon May  1 17:24:44 1995

Date: Mon, 24 Apr 95 14:25:16 EST


Subject: Rob Roy costumes


For Chantal and others who asked about the costumes in the film "Rob

Roy". If you are contemplating doing an 18th century Highland outfit, DO

NOT use this film as an example. There was almos nothing right about the

Highland clothing.  (I will let others critique the English clothes

somewhere else). Here are the problems.


Men: The men wore some sort of leather buskins on their legs. I have no

idea where this came from.If Highlanders did not go barefoot (and they

frequently did), they wore *cuarans*, skin shoes, described in Burt's

"Letters from a Gentleman in the North of Scotland" c. 1730--"But some I

have seen shod with a kind of Pumps, made out of a raw cow-hide, with the

Hair turned outward, which being ill-made, the Wearer's foot looked

something like those of a rough-footed Hen or Pigeon. These are called

'Quarrants' [cuarans] and are not only offensive to the sight; but

intolerable to the Smell of those who are near them." (i.e., they were

made of skin cut right off the carcase and laced onto the foot with a

thong -- not tanned or anything).


Hose were worn "no higher than the Thick of the calf" (Burt's Letters).


The philibeg (small kilt), which Liam Neeson wore, was first documented 10

or so years after the film takes place (1713). It was supposedly invented

c. 1723- 25 by an Englishman. Common Highlanders (not gentlemen or

chieftains) were much more likely to wear the great kilt (breacan mor)

because they could roll up in it and sleep, cover their shuolders or

heads; gentlemen who could afford a waistcoat and/or coat would not need

the top half of the plaid. Rev. James Broome(1700) describes the men as

wearing "mantles streaked or striped with divers colors, about their

shoulders which they call pladden" and Martin (1703,"A Description of the

Western Islands of Scotland") describes trews [worn in the film by the

Duke of Argyll] and thegreat kilt and specifically states that you can

tell where a man is from by his plaid (not his family or clan)-- "This

Humour (i.e., the stripes and plaids) is a different thro' the main Land

of the Highlands in so far that they who have seen those Places is (sic)

able, at the first view of a Man's Plaid, to guess the place of his

Residence." He goes on to say that the plaid is pinned with a *bodkin* of

wood or bone (NOT a penannular brooch -- those were worn by women) and

belted around the waist."Memoirs of Mareshal Keith (b. 1693) (first

published 1843). described the Battle of Sherrifmuir in which he took

part, 13 Nov. 1715 (2 yrs. after the movie is set)--"but above all they

have another piece of the same stuff, of about six yards long which they

tie about them in such a manner that it covers their thighs and *all their

body when they please, but commonly it's fixed on their left shoulder, and

leaves their right arm free* (empahsis mine)." He further says that they

sometimes throw off the plaid entirely before fighting.


I have not seen any contemporary illustrations of Highlanders wearing

shirts that laced up the front. 17th and 18th century shirts were slit

down the center front part way and had a button closing at the collar.

Earlier Highland *leines* did not lace up the front either.


Highlanders commonly wore knit bonnets on their heads. These were similar

to soft berets,usually blue, but sometimes grey or black. Mentioned by

Martin (1703), John Macky (1723),and others, but earlier descriptions and

illustrations show this.


The film also shows the members of one family all wearing the same sett of

tartan, although not any clan tartan that I recognized and NOT the "Rob

Roy" tartan (at least they didn't do THAT). This is problematic, because

copntemporary decriptions don't mention that anything matched or didn't

match, only that there seemed to be regional plaids or tartans. The

painting of the Battle of Culloden was done some time after the fact, but

used real Highland prisoners captured there as models. They are wearing

hose, plaids, and jackets all of different setts.


Women: Not an airisaid in sight. The airisaid was the female equivalent

of the breacan mor, an all encompassing tartan garment worn by women.

Martin (1703) says "The ancient Dress wore by the Women, and which is yet

wore by some of the Vulgar, called *Arisad*, is a white *Plade*, having a

few small stripes of black, blew and red; it reached from the Neck to the

Heels, and was tied before on the Breast with a Buckle of Silver or

Brass,according to the Quality of the Person." The buckle, or brooch was

sometimes the size of a plate and was engraved, or had a smaller brooch

set with a "large piece of Chrystal, or some finer Stone". "The PLad being

pleated all round, was tied with a Belt below the Breast; the Belt was of

Leather, and several pieces of Silver intermixed with the Leather like a

Chain." The belt had a plate on the end of it and was decorated with

stones or silver.


Martin continues."They wore sleeves of Scarlet Cloth, closed at the emnds

as Men's Vests, with gold lace round 'em, having Plate Buttons set with

fine Stones. The Head dress was a fine *kerchief* of Linen strait [i.e.

tight] about the Head, hanging down the back taper-wise..." Unmarried

women wore a "snood", which seems to be a ribbon wrapped around the front

of the head and tying a ponytail in back. There are illustrations of this,

although they are later than the time period I am addressing.


Burt (1730) describes the dress of the ladies of Inverness: "The Plaid is

the Undress of the Ladies; and to a genteel Woman, who adjusts it witha

good Air, is a becoming veil. It is made of Silk or fine Worsted,

chequered with various lively colours, two Breadths wide, and three yards

in Length; it is brought over the head and may hide or discover the



Various writers state that the women go barefoot, but women probably wore

cuarans, and when available and affordable, regular leather shoes.


There are no contemporary descriptions I have seen that talk about women

wearing petticoats (skirts) or bodices. In my living history group we wear

them, primarily for warmth. I think they were not mentioned because they

were not SEEN. An Airisaid covers everything, especially if it is worn

over the head.



Anyway, sorry to go on so long, but I wanted to give documentation for my

flames. There were a lot more inaccurate things in the film besides the

Highland clothing, but that's another topic.  Hope this helps.



kathleen at anstec.com


Ellsbeth Lachlanina MacLabhruinn


Vycke' Gilliam                       z009341b at bcfreenet.seflin.lib.fl.us



From: caradoc at enet.net (John Groseclose)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: The Quick and Dirty Kilt-folding Guide

Date: 12 May 1995 09:39:56 GMT


Reposted by popular demand (I've gotten five requests for something like

this in the last two days.)


Some people have indicated a high-level of interest in how to wear a kilt,

so here goes an attempt... It's MUCH easier to show someone how to do this

than to try to write instructions.


You'll need a minimum of three items: a belt, preferably a handspan in

width (better to keep your kilt on ye!), a piece of cloth roughly 8-10

yards in length by 60 or so inches in width (I'd prefer wider, so I could

"cloak" myself with the top half. More on this later), and a brooch (the

semicircular "penannular" brooches work nicely, but the pin itself makes a

hole in your cloth. Try for a NARROW, SHARP pin, as it's less likely to

damage the cloth.)


The belt is placed so that the bottom edge of the kilt is just above your

knees. The other 40+ inches are going to get rolled, tucked, or pinned

somewhere over your upper body.


Before pleating:

                     8 yards or more


|                                                           |

|                                                           |

|          belt (UNDER cloth)                               |

| <-->C===========                                          |    60

inches                                                      | 12-18

inches   ^ distance from knees to hips              |

|                |                                          |




-----//////////////-----   /// = PLEATS

|                      |

|                      |  All of the parts ABOVE the belt get draped over the  

|                      |  shoulders, rolled and tucked into the belt, or pinned

|     C===========     |  over the left shoulder.

|                      |  The part BELOW the belt hangs just like a "short kilt"

|                      |  or "philibeg."



Lie down upon the cloth, fold first the straight "flap from the right hip

to the left, then the flap from the left hip to the right. Buckle the belt

around your hips. If you stand up, you'll find you have two layers of

cloth over your legs: a short layer on the inside, and a long layer on the

outside going down around your ankles.


Take the two corners down near your ankles, and tuck them into your belt.

Grab a bit from the front, and a bit from behind your left hip, and bring

them on top of your left shoulder. Pin them there with your brooch.


It'll take a bit of practice, and possibly assistance from another person,

to get this hanging right. I've been wearing the "great kilt" for just

over five years, and it still takes me about half an hour to get dressed.


The great kilt can be worn with or without a shirt, with or without shoes,

stockings, sporran, bonnet, dirk, or anything else.


I've often worn naught BUT a belted plaid while working around the

campsite, then added a nice "poofy" shirt for the evening.


If you unpin the brooch on your shoulder, you will find that the mass of

cloth above the belt drapes nicely around your shoulders. With a 60"

cloth, you should be able to pull it up over your head as a kind of cloak.

. . I got caught in the rain at a RenFaire in the kilt, and got many

astonished looks from people in "short kilts" as I casually pulled my kilt

up over my head and shoulders and walked my merry way through the rain.

Try THAT in a short kilt!


Best of all, there's NO sewing involved!


John Groseclose <caradoc at enet.net>



From: beudach at aol.com (Lord Ronan Magnusson)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Effects of testosterone on Braveheart viewing - plaids

Date: 5 Jun 1995 10:14:18 GMT


Dunmail <D.J.Hodkinson at shef.ac.uk> writes:


> (1) Find a large open space


> (2) Lay belt on floor


> (3) Lay plaid across belt and fold into pleats


> (4) Lie down on the plaid and belt and fold them around


> (5) Fasten belt, stand up, and sort out the top half.


Having a scottish grandmother mundanely,  I can tell you that there

were not to many Highland warriors concerned about pleat arrangements.(

Sure, they arranged pleats after they ran out of flowers!).  The best

way is to wrap it around your body from right to left, and throw the

excess over your shoulder. Then put your belt on around the whole

thing. You can get a pleated look depending on how much fabric you

leave around your waist before the belt goes on.  This method will

leave a "loop" of fabric in the front, but take a look at Braveheart a

little more....



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Scots Scholarship Needed

From: una at bregeuf.stonemarche.org (Honour Horne-Jaruk)

Date: Fri, 07 Jul 95 09:26:17 EDT


bjm10 at cornell.edu (Bryan Maloney) writes:

> Clan tartans were invented after AD1800.

> Clan tartans were invented after AD1800.

> Clan tartans were invented after AD1800.

        (much snip)

> Repeat the above mantra 1,983,327,298,265,246 times until it gets through you

> head.

> Thank you very much.

        Respected friends:

        (Drag, drag, drag... Step-Thump! Step again...)

        Warning- Obnoxious weaving-oriented pedantry follows!

        As with so many other ` facts ' we think we know about our period, the

above statement is both true, and false, and misleading.

        The book the Sobieskis wrote, establishing the supposedly "ancient"

clan tartans of Scotland, is indeed post-1800. They are also quite glaringly

dissimilar to surviving pre-1600 Scottish plaid patterns.

        Which has very little to do with whether or not pre-1600 Scots could

tell what area, clan, or family you were from by looking at the tartan

pattern(s) you wore.

        Three factors:

        Weavers are creatures of habit. Plaids make this worse. Working with

a horizontal stripe or a plaid, it's easy to tell how much you've woven at

the end of the day; weavers like that. They also like having such an easy way

to tell good work from bad...

        Cloth can't be dyed with plants that don't exist. Each area of

Scotland is very much stuck with its native dyeplants, and thus with colors

those dyeplants can produce. This means that each region has a set of "Common"

colors which the experienced can peg evey time.

        Setting up a loom is a very wasteful process, and used to be more so.

Nobody did it more often than was absolutely unavoidable. This means

that a man ordering plaid for a group is going to have the same plaid for the

whole group, so that the loom only gets dressed once, and the waste is


        Result: Each weaver has plaids he weaves, each region has colors it

uses, each lord has his men dressed in the same plaid for long periods of


        Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the results.


                               Yours in service to the Society-

                               (Friend) Honour Horne-Jaruk R.S.F.

                               Alizaunde, Demoiselle de Bregeuf C.O.L. SCA

                               Una Wicca (That Pict)



From: Jerry Reese <afn29271 at freenet.ufl.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Highland dress for WOMEN?

Date: Sat, 26 Aug 1995 03:33:20 -0400


consult the


a definative study of the history of Scottish costume and tartan, both

civil and military, includingnweapons... with an appendix of early

Scottish Dyes...

it's by John Telfer Dunbar.  1962



From: Kel Rekuta <krekuta at tor.hookup.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Scottish garb

Date: 30 Sep 1995 00:20:15 GMT

Organization: HookUp Communication Corporation, Oakville, Ontario, CANADA


>      A female friend of mine is looking for Scottish garb and we can't find

> any pictures in our library. Can anyone out there describe what 13th

> century female scots garb was like and send it to me.Even if you can

> send me a good reference, it would help. All help would be

> appreciated. Thanks.


>                             Jean de Chauliac


Would that be Highland or Lowland Scots. Lowland is easy. What did

the same class of woman wear in England, the Low Countries, France or

Germany? Scotland had good trade relations with most of the above.

Fashion tends to follow commerce and travel. In the Highlands, more

homespun was common as trade was limited with the poor economic conditions

in the Highlands during most of the Middle ages. The general cut of

women's clothing would tend to be similar to Lowland fashions, if

accessorized in a more colorful fashions.


Also, Ireland had a lot of trade and travel exchanged with the Western

Isles of Scotland. Especially in the thirteenth century, the Isles were

culturally insular, having as little as possible dealing with lowland Scotland.


Think of these things when you put your clothing and accessories together.

Of course, deferring to someone who knows lots of about thirteenth century

costuming would be advisable. I am not such a person. I am better read

in the politics and commerce of Medieval Scotland and Ireland. Sorry.


YMMV, but best of luck.





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

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: forgive my ignorance...

Date: 14 Nov 1995 00:00:25 GMT

Organization: Cornell University


In article <481cku$reg at newsie.wis.com>, conn at wis.com says...

>I did some research this past summer and found a book at the Madison

>(Wisconsin) public library called "The Clans of the Scottish Highlands".

>It was originaly published in the 1800s (It was dedicated to Queen


I'll be gentle.


The book in question is of...questionable authenticity.  The Romantic

Revival was a time wherein people attempted to "prove" the belted plaid

going all the way back to Rome and the kilt (little kilt) all the way

back to Egypt.


>ancient garment called a "saffron tunic". Saffron referring to it's


The saffron shirt was a mainstay of Irish and Scottish Gaelic clothing

for quite some time.  However, it was not necessarily a top garment, and

the sources I've read bring me to the conclusion that the saffron shirt

went out of fashion in Scotland just as the belted plaid came in.


>mustard yellow colour. In one portrait, it is shown worn with a shawl-type

>garment (tartan) over the shoulders. It looks virtually identicle to the


A "tartan" is not a garment.  A "tartan" is a weave, later a pattern.  A

"plaid" is a garment--it means "blanket", actually.


There is a woodcut of a man and woman from the Highlands from about the

time of Mary's sojourne in France.  I dont' know how accurate it is, but

it's quite unhelpful in many details.


However, if you wanna have the only authentic "Highland Scottish"

male garb that I've seen a picture of from "SCA period", here's what ya



Make yourself a short tunic, ending about an inch above indecent, with a

bit of a loose skirt, maybe pleated (I'm going from memory).  Make

yourself a pair of "bike pants"--yup, those skin-tight shorts that reach

halfway down your thighs and no lower.  The original painting had them a

light blue.  No fly or other openings, of course.  Make a cloak,

preferably fur-trimmed, probably rectangular in section, big enough to

wrap all the way 'round you a couple times.  Soft shoes.  I believe that

a snug under-tunic with long sleeves was also worn under the skirted

tunic, but I'm reciting this from memory of a single picture.


Try to use appropriate fabrics, and I can't tell you what those would be

off the top of my head.


This picture dates from the late 1500s and purports to be of a Highland

gentleman. I would presume of some rank, since trews-like garments

remained popular among the upper classes for centuries during and after

"period"--it was far easier to RIDE A HORSE in trews than in belted

plaid. Want to look like a Highland Lord?  Wear trews.  Want to look

like a Highland Scumbag?  Wear the belted plaid.


Symon Freser

Wearing the belted plaid.



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: jgivans at iquest.net (Ian Roy Gordon)

Subject: Help with Scottish Garb!!

Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 05:48:08 GMT


Greetings and well met,

  I am faced with a problem and am hoping that the good scholars of the Rialto

might be able to help.  At Pensic I purchased a late period (early 16th c.)

jacket to wear with a kilt.  Now it is a very nice piece, but I have yet to

wear it at an event due to a lack of shoes.  Would anyone know what a 16th

century Scotsman would wear with a VERY elegant jacket?  I have successfully

aquired all the acoutraments except for socks and shoes.  A very good friend of

mine is being elevated into the ranks of Chivalry this weekend and his

household brothers/sisters want to honor him by dressing appropiately.  Thanks

for your time and consideration.   BTW, any info would be appreciated but I was

kinda hoping that someone would suggest something QUICK and easy!! 8^)


                                      Ian Roy Gordon

                                      called "the Tireless"

                                      mka John E. Givans



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

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Help with Scottish Garb!!

Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 11:53:43 -0400

Organization: Cornell University


They'd get whatever they could get their hands on.  A "soft" shoe is

documented as being made of a single piece of leather, fuzzy side out.

Stockings of any sort were optional.  The shoe had no separate sole.  From

this, you've got a lot of leeway.  Myself, I wear a pair of "ghillies",

that are a fenestrated shoe, cut from a single piece of leather and laced

together. Look at http://sage.cc.purdue.edu/~jacobus/Bryan.html for a

picture (although the rest is 18th century).  If you were really rich,

you'd throw your kilt away and wear what the English wore.  


Also, anything but the full belted plaid would be an inappropriate "kilt"

before 1725, remember that, too.


(I saw a guy at the last Myrkfaelinn event who just made me sigh--he was

wearing a pair of buckled shoes, a pair of argyle socks with a knife stuck

in one, a filibek--little kilt, a cable sweater, and a bonnet with two

feathers in it.  The guy looked like he'd stepped right out of an 1898

catalogue. Since I didn't know him, or anyone who could introduce me to

him, I forebore speaking to him on his choice of clothing.)



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

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Help with Scottish Garb!!

Date: 28 Nov 1995 17:23:38 GMT

Organization: The University of British Columbia


Ian Roy Gordon (jgivans at iquest.net) wrote:

> aquired all the acoutraments except for socks and shoes.  A very good friend

> of mine is being elevated into the ranks of Chivalry this weekend and his

> household brothers/sisters want to honor him by dressing appropiately.  Thanks


having a recent persona (about a month) i've been chasing down my

costume and came stumped at the feet as well. here's what i have heard,

on the rialto:


   bare feet and legs are period

   cuaran (sock-like boots) are period

   cuaran are actually loose hide shoes (hair side out)

   the long "buckskin" boots in Rob Roy are OOP


i tend to go barefoot, i've got the good hairy celtic legs :) i've seen

boots and they look nice, but are hardly the "fine dress" that you are



what i suggest is a good pair of brogues. webster dates the word from

1586. what you are looking for, to quote webster is:


   1brogue \'bro^-g\ n


   1: a stout coarse shoe worn formerly in Ireland and the Scottish Highlands

   2: a heavy shoe often with a hobailed sole: BROGAN

   3: a stout oxford shoe with perforations and usu. a wing tip


but do not get wing tip brogues however as they date from 1908 or so.

(well the word is dated 1908, and i doubt the style existed for 100

years without a word :)


devin ap roy

Barony of Lions Gate, An Tir



From: Elaine Ragland <er37 at columbia.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Scottish Dress--A Reference

Date: Thu, 11 Apr 1996 17:42:36 -0400

Organization: Columbia University


        I was re-reading R. W. Southern's _The Making of the Middle Ages_

when I happened across this reference.  In discussing the

internationality of the First Crusade, he says:


        "Even the Scots were there, a race of men who had been believed

to keep all their ferocity for domestic enemies:  the French were amazed

to see them, 'Drawn from their native swamps, with their bare legs, rough

cloaks, purses hanging from their shoulders, hung about with arms,

ridiculous enough in our eyes but offering the aid of their faith and

devotion to our cause'.' (Yale University Press, 1974 paperback edition,

p. 18),


        The footnote cites Guibert, Abbot of Nogent, _Gesta Dei per

Francos_, Book I.i (Patrologia Latina).  Southern then adds, "Mr. A. A.

M. Duncan has studied the significance of this passage as the earliest

known account of Scottish dress in the _Scottish Historical Review_,

1950, XXIX, 211-212.


        I have no idea what the Duncan article says, and have no time to

look it up.  Would someone else like to check what it says?  I suspect

that they are not just wearing tunics, as this would not look that

outlandish to the French.  A length of homespun plaid wool, wrapped and

draped around the body, might be called a "rough cloak" by a Frenchman

who has never seen a kilt.  Anyone want to go and check the Latin?


                              Melanie de la Tour



From: nostrand at mathstat.yorku.ca (Barbara Nostrand)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Scottish Dress--A Reference

Date: Mon, 15 Apr 1996 03:11:31 -0500

Organization: de Moivre Institute


Noble Cousins!

Lady Melanie de la Tour wrote:


>         I was re-reading R. W. Southern's _The Making of the Middle Ages_

> when I happened across this reference.  In discussing the

> internationality of the First Crusade, he says:


>         "Even the Scots were there, a race of men who had been believed

> to keep all their ferocity for domestic enemies:  the French were amazed

> to see them, 'Drawn from their native swamps, with their bare legs, rough

> cloaks, purses hanging from their shoulders, hung about with arms,

> ridiculous enough in our eyes but offering the aid of their faith and

> devotion to our cause'.' (Yale University Press, 1974 paperback edition,

> p. 18),


>         I have no idea what the Duncan article says, and have no time to

> look it up.  Would someone else like to check what it says?  I suspect

> that they are not just wearing tunics, as this would not look that

> outlandish to the French.  A length of homespun plaid wool, wrapped and

> draped around the body, might be called a "rough cloak" by a Frenchman

> who has never seen a kilt.  Anyone want to go and check the Latin?


The first crusade reached Constantanople in 1067.  That gives us a basic time

frame for comparison.  Before attempting to analyse the quote cited by the

original poster, you should go off and look at what people in the Empire were

wearing at the time.  Otto II (955-83) or Otto III (980-1002) (we are not

sure which of the two is depicted in the famous portrait) is shown wearing a

long tunic with hose and shoes while even his soldiers are shown wearing

short tunics over hose or vambraces and boot like affairs.  The author comments

on the general dissarray and bare legs of the Scotts.  What then can be made

from bare legs?  First of all we can postulate that they were wearing some

variant on the chiton (or short cloak) once worn by Roman servants and seen

in some Roman military uniforms as well.  Regardless, we have a vision of

a much better dressed continental army being joined by bare legged rather

scruffy Scotts wearing rough homespun cloaks.  Whether or not the garments

were made of plaid wool is moot.  Lots of garments were made of wool and a

lot of woolen garments were plaid.  Both inside and outside of Scotland.

Further, there is nothing in the quoted passage to suggest that the clothing

was plaid or even made out of wool.  (Although it was very likely woolen.)


                                      Your Humble Servant

                                      Solveig Throndardottir

                                      Amateur Scholar



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

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: HELP!!! (Scottish personas)

Date: Sun, 29 Sep 1996 18:06:52 -0500

Organization: Cornell University


Rabeeto at msn.com (Colin Davidson) wrote:

> mid 1500's - early renaissance, almost medieval?.  My husband-to-be


Mid 1500s--almost modern era, late Renaissance, in Highland Scotland,

maybe mid-Renaissance.


> is full blooded Scottish and he is going to wear the Great Kilt with


I presume you mean "Gaelic"--you can be "full blooded Scottish" and have

not a drop of Gaelic ancestry.  You could be 100% Scandinavian!


> some type of poet/ pirate shirt well now what do I wear?  Did the


Uh, okay, it'll do.  But, if you really want it to be "period", the

stockings should be of woven cloth.  NO BONNET!  The "Highland Bonnet"

didn't exist until the 17th century--before then, it was an almost

universal comment of travelers to Highland Scotland that the men were

always bareheaded.  No "sgain dubh"--that's a 19th century bit of



> Scottish women of that time wear what the English or Welsh wore?  


Far as I can tell, they wore something similar to English clothes, but

with a plaid of their own as a shawl/hood/etc.


> Were they into Druidism then?  I thought we could pretend that we


Uh, Scotland by the mid-1500s was Christian, as far as any solid scholarly

evidence goes.  Of course, you can find a crackpot to claim anything.

Now, there were arguments between the Roman Catholics and the followers of

Brother John Knox (Presbyterians).  The Highlands tended towards

Catholicism.  But outright "paganism"--only in bad comic books.


> were having a secretive wedding of an English woman and a Scottish

> man (much to the shock of the families/clan), really I don't know


Maybe "Lowland Woman" and "Highland Man".  If she's English and knows a

Scotsman, he'd be a lowlander, and damned hard to distinguish from an



> something along the line of a cotehardie with one of those rolled

> cloth headbands with the veil?  I've heard of handfasting, having


Look at some portraits of the period. Get some art books from the library

and look at portraiture for ideas for your clothes.



From: Kel Rekuta <krekuta at tor.hookup.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: HELP!!! (Scottish personas)

Date: 30 Sep 1996 03:16:18 GMT

Organization: HookUp Communication Corporation, Oakville, Ontario, CANADA


Snip of some good advice that need not be copied.


> > some type of poet/ pirate shirt well now what do I wear?  Did the


> Uh, okay, it'll do.  But, if you really want it to be "period", the

> stockings should be of woven cloth. NO BONNET!  The "Highland Bonnet"

> didn't exist until the 17th century--before then, it was an almost

> universal comment of travelers to Highland Scotland that the men were

> always bareheaded.


The common folk maybe. Also those travellers neglected to mention that

the mantle usually flipped up like a hood. In lowland Scotland bonnets

were quite common, but not the Roy Roy floppy woven thing. There was

some kind of bonnet worn because James V once dashed his bonnet into

the fire in a rage. This was commented upon by the French courtier who

observed it, as a common thing for Scottish men to do when angry.

That's pretty conclusive evidence that caps existed before the 17th C


  No "sgain dubh"--that's a 19th century bit of ornamentation.  


Yes, when worn in the right stocking with a dress kilt. Do you

honestly believe Scots didn't carry little knives on them, as well

as the better known large ones! Englishmen did, Frenchmen did, Germans

did. Just because they were named in the Highland language, doesn't mean

they didn't exist before the 17th C.


> > Scottish women of that time wear what the English or Welsh wore?  


Lots more good advise.


Sorry for the interruption. Just couldn't swallow the unpalatable bits.





From: Quin Hinrichs <flyhrse at goodnet.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: re:Scottish Personas Help!!!

Date: 1 Oct 1996 01:12:06 GMT


Keep in mind that during the period you described, and for most of the

time after that until way out of SCA period, the Scots and the English

did not get along at all.  The only Scots that got along with the English

at all were those that were playing up to the English Kings to keep from

being beaten into submission.  Your basic highland Scot would not have

much contact with the English at all, unless he was a mercenary, and then

he was killing them.  The chances of "love conquering all" in this case

would be pretty slim.  A lowland Scot (those living near the English

border) would have had more contact with his English neighbors, but it

would likely not have been a friendly relationship. His goal would have

been to make their lives miserable by raiding and plundering, murdering

when necessary.  The English would have been quite happy to murder the

Scots right back.  An English woman would have been kept away from the

Scottish as much as possible, and would have stayed safely in her village

or castle keep.  The only exception to this would be in the case of a

child of Scottish nobility who due to the family's English affiliations

would dress and behave like an Englishman, and not much like a Scot at

all and that means NO PLAID.  If you watch the movie Braveheart, you will

see the basic relationship between the Scots and English during the

period you've mentioned.  to see how it all turned out, watch Rob Roy.  

In a nutshell the Scots and English did not get along and were each

considered awful, uncivilized, dishonest and repugnant by the other.  So,

it is likely that you will want to dress as a Scottish woman for the



Anyway, here are some answers to your questions about Scottish women.  

The religion would have been basically Catholic, with many pagan

traditions and superstitions thrown in. The wedding would have been an

old Catholic ritual (once again for a little idea, watch Braveheart).  

The clothing is very hard to describe but here's an idea.  A very upper

class Scottish woman (nobility or "English suck-ups") would have dressed

as the English did, and as I said before that includes no plaid.  The

traditional garb, however, is quite simple to make and exotic to look at.

The basic underdress is called a 'leine' or linn.  It is either white,

off-white or a shade of saffron (yellow to gold).  It is a loose-fitting

chemise with raglan sleeves and a very large neck that is gathered on a

draw string at the neckline.  It has huge, wide sleeves that are pleated

or gathered until they hang to the wrist. Over this is worn a bog dress

which is a well-fitting bodice that laces up the front.  The skirt is

attached at the waistline, but is left open in the front.  The whole

thing is lined in a contrasting or complimentary color.  Under the bog

dress may be worn an additional skirt to add color.  Over this is the

woman's version of the plaid.  It is called an arasaid.  It is about 4-6

yards of tartan that is belted at the waist and draped and pinned over

the shoulders.  The feet are traditionally bare, but to accomodate modern

tastes, leather mocassins or slippers are acceptable. Celtic embroidery

all over the bog dress and skirt is appropriate.  The headwear would be

the kertch (a triangular piece of fabric wrapped around the head with the

middle point hanging down the back -- sort of like a gypsy scarf crossed

with a small turban).  Also acceptable for a woman is the veil and linen

headroll (although more Irish than Scottish).


If you want more information on Scottish garb, or pictures or patterns,

E-mail me directly at flyhrse at goodnet.com.


Best of luck!

Mar sin leat an-drasda,

Mairi NicMorgan of the Clan MacAodh

(Mundanely -- Quin Hinrichs)



From: priest at vassar.edu (Carolyn Priest-Dorman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Advice/Pointers Regarding Scottish Garb.

Date: 2 Feb 1997 15:54:24 GMT

Organization: Vassar College


Greeting from Thora Sharptooth!


Nate (nathb at efn.org) wrote...

>I'm looking for the following information regarding Scottish Costume as

>it applies to 10th, 12th century periods.  


>        - Tartans; How can you identify a tartan fabric (something at

>least vaguely period) and what kind of garments were tartan used to make

>(ie, if I show up wearing a tartan tunic... trousers, ect).


The tartan patterns that are commonly ascribed to various clans these days are

not a period phenomenon, as far as we know.  And there's not a terrific

pile of period textile finds to sort through, so information on this period

in Scotland is kind of hard to come by.  But the plaid and checked cloths I've

seen documented from early period in Northern Europe have all shared certain

characteristics, which I'll try to go into here.


First, they have a fairly small "repeat" area; i.e., the pattern repeats in an

area that is (from what I've seen) much smaller than the modern pattern repeat

of a tartan.  The largest repeat I've seen on an early period check/plaid

pattern was 15x15cm, and that was sixth century three-color plaid from Norway.

(See http://www.cs.vassar.edu/~capriest/mensgarb.html for more info.)  But

plain checking of two colors in fairly small checks (circa half a centimeter

to two centimeters) was much more typical.  


Second, the color scheme was generally one of two varieties.  Sometimes it was

tone-on-tone monochrome (done by using yarn spun in different directions, an

extremely subtle and lovely technique) that gives the effect of, say, two

closely related shades of gray or brown.  Sometimes it was two shades of

undyed wool (i.e., brown, off-white, or black).  And sometimes it was two (or

maybe three) dyed colors--sometimes the checks are separated by thin lines of

a third color.


Small-pattern houndstooth weave is also appropriate for this period,

especially in the undyed shades.


Since I don't know what the Scots were wearing in this period (again, there's

not much primary evidence out there), it's hard to suggest which garments

would be appropriately made from checked fabrics.  However, absent any

other information, and based on extrapolations from other surrounding

cultures, I'd be willing to wear checked hoods, cloaks, trousers, and tunics

made of the stuff.


Carolyn Priest-Dorman                          Thora Sharptooth

priest at vassar.edu                              Frostahlid, Austrriki



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: Charles Knutson <charles at historicgames.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Scottish attire (men & Women)

Date: Thu, 20 Aug 1998 12:14:17 -0600

Organization: Rose & Pentagram Design


Since kilts have been discussed so much lately, I've posted a collection

of quotes from the 16th & 17th century showing how people of the time

were describing Scottish attire. It's located at:




Clann Tartan Historical Re-enactment




[Submitted by: rmhowe <magnusm at ncsu.edu>]

Subject: Re: kilts - Universitie

Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 08:40:38 EST

From: EoganOg at aol.com

To: jonesj at InfoAve.Net

CC: atlantia at atlantia.sca.org


jonesj at InfoAve.Net writes:

> I'd be really interested in more about being a "professional scot". You and

> I have briefly discussed it, but I wonder if you'd like to make a plug on

> the rose? If so, I'll ask you about it there.


More about being a professional Scot, huh?

Well, my job as curator of the Scottish Tartans Museum has been called by

some as being Scottish for a living.


First of all, the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, NC

(http://intertekweb.com/tartans) is the american extension of the Scottish

Tartans Museum in Edinburgh, both of which are sponsored by the Scottish

Tartans Society (http://www.electricscotland.com/sts).  The STS was recognised

as an organisation Noblesse in 1963 and is responsible for maintaining the

official Registry of All Publicly Known Tartans.  Basically this is a database

of any tartan ever woven, which not only includes all the common clan tartans,

but also artifact peices from museums and private collections, and modernly

designed tartans for families, businesses, cities, etc.  Currently there are

over 2500 tartans on record and about 30 to 40 are added each year.  Part of

this database has been webbed at http://www.tartans.scotland.net.  There are

other organisations out there who claim to have an official register of

tartans, but the STS has the real thing, and the authority of the British



Now back to my job.  One thing the STS does is provide information on Highland

Dress, both modern and historical.  And that is what the museum focuses

on--the evolution of the kilt and the tartan.  I tell people that I wear the

kilt about 3 or 4 days a week.  This includes the modern kilt as well as

various historical styles dating from about 1570 on. I lead tours, tell people

about Highland Dress, etc.  I also get to set up and maintain exhibits, which

often puts my in the position of handling some really neat old peices, such as

a box pleated feilidh-beag from 1792, the earliest civilian kilt known to

still exist.


I travel to local area schools to give programs, and also represent the museum

at local heritage fairs.  Even though our museum focuses primarily on the

dress, we do have to also serve as a general center for Scottish heritage,

since we are the only thing of this kind in the area.  This includes music,

literature, history, geneology (although we are not really equipped for

that, we do try to help people), etc.


Another aspect of my job is travelling to various Highland Games and Scottish

Fesitvals in the Southeast to represent the museum and give out information on

tartans and the kilt.  I usually go in historic dress of one kind or another

and meet many interesting folks.


So there you have it.  I make my living, as it were, in being Scottish, and

despensing information on things Scottish.  It's a lot of fun, even if one

does tend to get burned out at times.


Since you think this will be of interest to the Merry Rose, I'll cross post

this there as well.  Nice shameless plug for my museum (we have a gift shop!

we do mail orders!  (828)524-7472!  ;-).


Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share this.




(who is getting ready to head to work now, so I must turn into my alter-ego,

Matt. . .)


Matthew Allen Newsome

Curator & Historical Consultant for the

Scottish Tartans Museum, Franklin NC

"Bring Forrit the Tartan!"

<A HREF="http://www3.wcu.edu/~mn13189/index.htm";>




Date: Fri, 20 Nov 2009 15:41:51 +1000

From: Braddon Giles <braddongiles at gmail.com>

Subject: Re: [Lochac] shoes was Looking for suggestions ...

To: "The Shambles: the SCA Lochac mailing list"

        <lochac at lochac.sca.org>


Yes, the difficult part in recreating Scots clothing is that it

doesn't meet our modern view of what it should be. Damn that real

history - why doesn't it doesn't match with the way we do our

recreation ;-)


In 1542 or 1543 a John Elder (Highlander) wrote to Henry VIII, and in

his letter stated "Moreover, wherfor they call us in Scotland

Reddshanckes, and in your Graces dominion of England roghefootide

Scottis, pleas it your Maiestie to understande, that we of all people

can tolleratt, suffir, and away best with colde, for boithe somer and

wyntir, (excepte whene the froest is mooste vehement,) goynge alwaies

bair leggide and bair footide, our delite and pleasure is not onely in

huntynge of redd deir, wolfes, foxes, and graies, wherof we abounde,

and have greate plentie, but also in rynninge, leapinge, swymynge,

shootynge, and thrawinge of dartis: therfor, in so moche as we use and

delite so to go alwaies, the tendir delicatt gentillmen of Scotland

call us Reddshanckes"


So Highland Scots go bare legged and bare footed, except when the

"froest is mooste vehement", which in Scotland is saying something!

There probably isn't anything like that vehemence in Lochac, apart

from Ynys Fawr and Southron Gaard. However we have modern health and

safety issues, and in Queensland big juicy leeches, so we have to work

something out.


I sometimes wear a great kilt, and as we cannot date the kilt to

earlier than the 1590's I also wear late Elizabethan style "Mary

Janes", with with either hose or long socks. So I have to be a "tendir

delicatt gentillman of Scotland" and wear shoes.


The academic authority on Gaelic clothing (McClintock) states that to

make shoes the Scots would cut leather raw off the deer in an oval,

pierce the edges and then bind up with thonging, probably also raw off

the deer. The only problem was water, and not in the way that you

would first think. With all the running through the country and

jumping in rivers there was going to be water getting in. To enable

the water to excape the side of the shoes would be *slashed*, so they

weren't water proof; they were non water retaining. Mad, mad Scots.


So what happened when the raw leather started to stink too badly? You

turf them into the heather, shoot another deer, and made another pair

of shoes. Perfect, really.


Have a look at this etching from Durer. It shows Irish Gallowglasses

from 1521, and they were wearing the same thing that highland Scots

were wearing at the same time. First of all you can see that they

aren't wearing kilts, because kilts wouldn't be invented for another

70 years. Instead, they are wearing leines and brats. You can also see

that they were wearing no hose, some shoes, and some sandals, and some

no shoes. The guy second from left looks like he is wearing reef








Date: Sun, 22 Nov 2009 23:03:03 +1300

From: Al Muckart <silver at where.else.net.nz>

Subject: Re: [Lochac] Looking for suggestions ...

To: "The Shambles: the SCA Lochac mailing list"

        <lochac at lochac.sca.org>


On 20/11/2009, at 12:17 AM, Somhairle Mac Nicail wrote:

<<< I am finally trying to get good garb together ... the fabric for my  

Belted Plaid has been ordered (did I mention my persona was mid-15th  

century highland Scot?) ... but now I need proper shoes. Does anyone  

have any suggestions on what would be appropriate footwear, and  

where I could get it from? >>>


Congratulations on picking one of the hardest times and places do  

document footwear. This might take a while :)


Lowland Scots is relatively easy; wear out-dated English styles.  

Highland Scots is harder, not least because it has fallen prey to more  

than average amounts of VRBS[1], and even more than that suffers from  

the further romantic visions of the weirder elements of the Braveheart-

watching Scots nationalist crowd.  This means that the vast majority  

of what you read about highland Scots is Just Wrong, and teasing out  

the grains of truth from the wrongheaded assumptions it is quite hard.


As for shoes, it's difficult to say. Having lived through highland  

winters I don't buy the barefoot option for a second. They may have  

been seen as primitive compared to the rest of Western Europe, but  

they weren't stupid, and frostbitten toes are not fun.


There are a couple of routes you could go. You can try an piece  

together something plausibly accurate  for the time and place, or you  

can get something that fits with the common perception of the period  

that won't badly break people's heads. If you go with the latter, your  

choices are barefoot or shoe from 10th century Irish patterns. Willy  

Groenman van Waateringe's works on early shoes are your best bet here.  

They're fairly easy to pattern and make.


Mid 15th century highlands isn't a time and place I know much about in  

terms of footwear, but I think it would be plausible to take mid 14th  

century working-class shoe styles and apply them further north. You do  

run into problems with belted plaid that early though.


[1] Victorian Romantic Bull Shit


Alasdair Muckart | William de Wyke | http://wherearetheelves.blogspot.com



Date: Mon, 03 Oct 2011 07:46:00 -0400

From: Garth Groff <ggg9y at virginia.edu>

To: atlantia at atlantia.sca.org

Subject: [MR] Historic tartan books online


Noble friends, especially fellow Scots,


The Scottish Tartans Museum has recently posted full-color scans of

several historical books featuring tartan patterns (

http://resources.scottishtartans.org/ ). These show clan tartans (in

some cases spurious), and as such are beyond our period. However, some

of the tartans themselves are much, much older, and could have been worn

by anyone, since there were no "clan tartans" before the 18th century.

Tartan was worn by many hightlanders as an upper body wrap long before

they began wrapping it around their waists in the late 1500s. I happened

to notice Lennox in one book, a particular tartan which was depicted in

a portrait of 1580. Some of the tartans depicted are no longer in use,

having been replaced by more modern setts, and information on them is

very hard to find.


The books currently offered are the VESTIARIUM SCOTICUM (1842, a notable

fraud by the Sobieski Stuarts); CLANS OF THE HIGHLANDS OF SCOTLAND


(1850); PATTERNS OF THE HIGHLAND CLANS (mid-19th century); and OLD &



The museum has other pages which can be of help creating a Scottish

persona. On the main page ( http://www.scottishtartans.org/gallery.html

) there are discussion papers and free downloads under "Education" and

"Free Downloads" on the toolbar. While the museum's emphasis is beyond

our time period, there is much to be learned here.


Lord Mungo Napier, That Crazy Scot


<the end>

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