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Edward Lovatt




Location: UK
Joined: 01 Aug 2009

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Tue 22 Sep, 2009 6:24 am    Post subject: Fraser / Lovatt swords at Culloden         Reply with quote

Hi All,

I've been a member since july and have a question that will probably prove wrong, the old saying that, there is no such thing as a stupid question.

Here goes - Did the Fraser Lovatts have a favoured or particular sword type a Culloden. I realise this was prossibly the biggest mixing pot of unsigned, smashed,and stolen booty in the history of war fare, (and one of most emotive and sensitive issues in Scottish history) but having read many of the basket hilt discussions on this forum, if there is an answer to be found then it is here.

My main reason for asking is, as a Lovatt, I have connections with the clan and have made inital contact with Eljay regarding a long term commission to this end.

Thanks all

with hope (spe)
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Lin Robinson




Location: NC
Joined: 15 Jun 2006
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Posts: 1,231

PostPosted: Tue 22 Sep, 2009 3:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Fraser / Lovatt swords at Culloden         Reply with quote

Edward Lovatt wrote:
Hi All,

I've been a member since july and have a question that will probably prove wrong, the old saying that, there is no such thing as a stupid question.

Here goes - Did the Fraser Lovatts have a favoured or particular sword type a Culloden. I realise this was prossibly the biggest mixing pot of unsigned, smashed,and stolen booty in the history of war fare, (and one of most emotive and sensitive issues in Scottish history) but having read many of the basket hilt discussions on this forum, if there is an answer to be found then it is here.

My main reason for asking is, as a Lovatt, I have connections with the clan and have made inital contact with Eljay regarding a long term commission to this end.

Thanks all


There are no stupid questions but there are some for which there is no definite answer.

As a participant in a lot of Scottish-American activities I am frequently asked if a particular clan favored this or that sword, or if there was a sword traditionally linked with the clan. The answer, in general, is no. The average clansman, if he could afford a sword at all, carried what he could obtain. At Culloden the sword you would expect to see most often in the hands of a clansman would have been a basket-hilt broadsword or backsword. But, almost assuredly, they used other swords as well.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Edward Lovatt




Location: UK
Joined: 01 Aug 2009

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Wed 23 Sep, 2009 3:22 am    Post subject: Re: Fraser / Lovatt swords at Culloden         Reply with quote

Lin Robinson wrote:
Edward Lovatt wrote:
Hi All,

I've been a member since july and have a question that will probably prove wrong, the old saying that, there is no such thing as a stupid question.

Here goes - Did the Fraser Lovatts have a favoured or particular sword type a Culloden. I realise this was prossibly the biggest mixing pot of unsigned, smashed,and stolen booty in the history of war fare, (and one of most emotive and sensitive issues in Scottish history) but having read many of the basket hilt discussions on this forum, if there is an answer to be found then it is here.

My main reason for asking is, as a Lovatt, I have connections with the clan and have made inital contact with Eljay regarding a long term commission to this end.

Thanks all


There are no stupid questions but there are some for which there is no definite answer.

As a participant in a lot of Scottish-American activities I am frequently asked if a particular clan favored this or that sword, or if there was a sword traditionally linked with the clan. The answer, in general, is no. The average clansman, if he could afford a sword at all, carried what he could obtain. At Culloden the sword you would expect to see most often in the hands of a clansman would have been a basket-hilt broadsword or backsword. But, almost assuredly, they used other swords as well.


Lin thanks for your reply,

You are absolutely right most clan men were poor and after the battle only 192 broadswords were recovered (against 1000 plus firearms and other edged weapons). I was trying to establish if any one knew of an actual sword ( no matter what type- baskets being my preference) that could be linked to the Fraser lovatt clan at Culloden . I have since done a lot of digging around and found that linking a sword to an individual is very rare no matter the time period. It would be hard to find a connection for the full 300 - 400 year period for every clan, not just Culloden. I think I will find a sword from this period I like the look of and not worry to much about provenance.

I had give it go, you never know someone might have one in private collection or know of one - the very rare can sometimes turn up. Especially with such a large and knowelegable group of people in this community. I started my question with the stupid quote because I didn`t want to laughed of the forum with my very first posting. When you do these things the first time you never know the reaction. I was happy with response.

Again many thanks for your reply

Ed

with hope (spe)
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JG Elmslie
Industry Professional



Location: Scotland
Joined: 18 Jun 2009
Reading list: 28 books

Posts: 267

PostPosted: Wed 23 Sep, 2009 7:52 am    Post subject: Re: Fraser / Lovatt swords at Culloden         Reply with quote

Edward Lovatt wrote:
I was trying to establish if any one knew of an actual sword ( no matter what type- baskets being my preference) that could be linked to the Fraser lovatt clan at Culloden .
Ed


I am extremely sceptical that any could be accurately attributed as coming off the field from a specific clan, at best, it might be possible to do a cross-reference of the locations of those few which were recovered with decent archaeological notes on the exact location, against the known position of the fraser/lovat unit on the field, and see if any correspond.

If you like, I'll nip up the road sometime and see if I can find anyone to ask... I'm living about 4 miles away from the battlefield just now.
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Edward Lovatt




Location: UK
Joined: 01 Aug 2009

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2009 2:42 am    Post subject: Re: Fraser / Lovatt swords at Culloden         Reply with quote

I am extremely sceptical that any could be accurately attributed as coming off the field from a specific clan, at best, it might be possible to do a cross-reference of the locations of those few which were recovered with decent archaeological notes on the exact location, against the known position of the fraser/lovat unit on the field, and see if any correspond.

Elmslie,

Thanks for your reply - on brew break so have time for a response.

Please try and hip up the road before you move back to Edinburgh - thats a good 90 mile hike back up to inverness, but thanks for thinking of me Big Grin

I was thinking more of a survivor from the battle, passing his sword up through the generations (like a treasured heirloom), not picking up an anomious sword discarded on the battle field - no amount of clever archeological jiggery pockery will get around the mass confusion of full scale hand to hand combat Exclamation The only way to establish ownership in these conditions is if the sword is signed by the owner or some other personal mark. The problem with scottish basket hilts that most are only signed on the hilt by the maker (and only rarely as most were the product of a thiving cottage industry and remained unmarked) and the blade which was marked by the sword smith, these were, at the time mainly imported from Germany and predated the basket which may have had many hilts attached and removed over time, making the blade considerably older than the actual hilt.

This is beginning to be a bit of goosey chase thing - I have decided to save my pennies, obtain the sword and the sorrows, pick one that I like the look of and hopefully get a skilled custom smith like E.B. Erickson to reproduce it and not worry who owned what - it was nice idea as I`m a lovatt to own a Lovatt sword, but the mist of romantic idealism must give way to cold reality - if anything this forum has done that for me.

Ps I have lived in Edinburgh, its a lovley city and has a special place in my heart.

Once again thanks for your reply

Kindest regards

Ed

with hope (spe)
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Henrik Bjoern Boegh




Location: Aust Agder, Norway
Joined: 03 Mar 2004

Posts: 386

PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2009 11:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is no way of telling. The swords were picked up just after the battle and no swords have been found during the archeological surveys there. The closest you get is a French bayonet Wink
The Frasers were probably one of the best equipped clans involved in the '45 due to Lord Lovat circulating all men through the independent companies and paying for weapons for all of them out of his own pocket. He was quite paranoid and would be well defended.
The only standardization of basket hilts are regimental ones, so no clan would be equipped with one style of hilt.
I suggest instead that you look at the hilts in portraits of Frasers if you find any. There is one of James Fraser of Castle Leathers from around 1715 with a fairly typical basket hilt with an inverted "S" instead of the side shields.
And there is a sword in the National War Museum at Edinburgh Castle which is said to have been used at the battle of the Fields of Abraham in Quebec which may well have belonged to a Fraser.

Cheers,
Henrik

Constant and true.
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Edward Lovatt




Location: UK
Joined: 01 Aug 2009

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2009 12:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Henrik ,

That was a brilliant lead, something I hadn`t considered, those portraits were fairly accurate and captured arms as worn.

I have always considered the average clans man to be quite poor, but it is intresting that they were well funded by lord lovat himself. If I do locate one then it will be a nice specimen.

Eljay has accepted my commission so I have six years to come up with goodies.

Do you have a personal intrest in the Fraser Lovats or just a general intrest.

just the sort of info I`m after. If you have any more snipits then please pass on.

What do you think of the odds, on a member of the clan surving the battle to pass a sword onto future generations. This has been my main hope of finding an example - has it happened for other clans or were they all stolen captured or the owners purged in the years following Culloden.

Thanks once again

Ed

with hope (spe)
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Todd Salazar





Joined: 03 Dec 2003
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 79

PostPosted: Thu 01 Oct, 2009 2:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Ed,

Just a thought, but you can also attempt to contact somebody Beaufort Castle at www.beaufortcastle.com and ask them if there are any surviving baskethilted swords from the late 17th to mid 18th centuries. They may have some knowledge of some and if they belonged to any Culloden survivors that were part of the clan. They can usually provide a digital photo (for a possible fee, of course) to you if they do. Let us know what they tell you. Happy

Thanks,
Todd
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Henrik Bjoern Boegh




Location: Aust Agder, Norway
Joined: 03 Mar 2004

Posts: 386

PostPosted: Fri 02 Oct, 2009 3:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Ed,

I have no personal interest in Clan Fraser as such, but I am a '45 reenactor and real a lot about all the different people involved in the '45 and the previous risings. The Fraser history is essential due to their involvement on the government side during the '15 (alongside the clan I am connected to, Rose of Kilravock) and their final commitment to the Jacobite cause in 1746.

Here's the portrait of Major Fraser of Castle Leathers, who from what I understand was one of the Fraser gentry responsible for getting "the Fox" himself back from exile in France and to support the Government in 1715:


Here's another thing that may interest you:
Fraser of Lovat Flag Mystery
Half of a flag bearing the crest of Fraser of Lovat, which is nearly 300 years old, has come to light and has been conserved by experts over the last twelve months. It is thought that it had been cut in half and given to two descendants in the 1820s. At first it was suggested that the flag had been carried at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. But it now seems more likely that it was even earlier and was a camp flag of Lord Lovat, in the Independent Highland Companies, also known as the Black Watch, either in 1715 or more likely, 1725. In addition to the mystery of the flag's history - and why it was cut into two - is the inclusion of the words "I am" in the crest. The Fraser of Lovat motto is normally "Je Suis Prest" or "I am Ready" in French. If it wasn't expressed in French it should be in Scots or Gaelic, not English. The owners of the flag are keen to find out if the other half of the flag exists and the editor of the Clan Fraser Society of Scotland and the UK is acting as an intermediary.



Here's the Targemakers repro of the "Lord Lovat targe" that may interest you:
http://targemaker.co.uk/fraser%201.html

Cheers,
Henrik

Constant and true.
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Todd Salazar





Joined: 03 Dec 2003
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 79

PostPosted: Fri 02 Oct, 2009 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again Henrik,

Interesting information about the Fraser of Lovat flag mystery. Thanks for sharing that with all of us! Happy

-Todd
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Edward Lovatt




Location: UK
Joined: 01 Aug 2009

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Fri 02 Oct, 2009 1:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Henrik,

I had not seen this reply when I sent the earlier PM.

what a fantastic find and like Todd thank you for sharing it with us. Hope they find the other half it would be amazing to see the entire flag. Cool

The targe was also very interesting - It would go brilliantly with my future sword, which i'm now on Eljays waiting list to make (2013 - 14) so plenty of time to do my research and make a project worthy of the great man.

Thanks for adding the Fraser of Lovat painting, this so far is my only link to a Fraser sword of that period.

Once again many thanks for sharing this excellent info.

If I find any thing interesting in my search I will share it with you all. I will definitely post images of my finished sword, it promises to be pretty special, Eljay is quite excited., so must get back to my research.

Ed

with hope (spe)
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GG Osborne





Joined: 21 Mar 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 487

PostPosted: Fri 02 Oct, 2009 2:03 pm    Post subject: Fraser Flag         Reply with quote

Here's a bit of additional info. British regimental flags were 6" x 66" and the background color was the color of the uniform facings of the regiment. In this case, it seems to be buff which would be correct for early incarnations of the Highland Independent Companies. The Black Watch was originally mustered in as the 43rd Regt. but advanced to the 42nd when a regiment earlier in line was disbanded. The Black Watch's facings were changed to blue when they were awarded royal status in 1757.

But here's the inportant thing: Prior to the Royal Warrant of 1768, Colonel's of regiments were basically the proprieters of the regiment. It was a lucrative political appointment. The colonel's were permitted to place their own arms on the regimental flags. That is what you see here. The Union Jack in the upper left canton indicates it was a flag used on the British establishment.

So, this indicates a date before 1757 at the very latest.

"Those who live by the sword...will usually die with a huge, unpaid credit card balance!"
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