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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 6:51 am    Post subject: "Freedom!": What Medieval Scots Really Wore in Bat         Reply with quote

The below article is taken from medievalnews.blogspot.com

Scottish newspapers have been reporting that medieval Scots who fought in battles like Bannockburn, and Flodden Field would have looked very different to the way they have traditionally been depicted.

Instead of kilts, he said they wore saffron-coloured tunics called "leine croich" and used a range of ingredients to get the boldest possible colours. Historian Fergus Cannan claims that some warriors even dyed the garments with horse urine in order to get the boldest possible colours.

Cannan, who claims he can trace his family roots back to the legendary monarch Robert the Bruce, makes the case for a saffron rather than a tartan army in the forthcoming book Scottish Arms And Armour. He asserts that the Scots armies who fought in the pivotal battles of Bannockburn and Flodden Field would have looked very different to the way they have traditionally been depicted.

Cannan said: "What the Scottish soldiers wore in the country's greatest battles is an area that, up until now, has not been properly studied. We know quite clearly what happened at Bannockburn and Flodden, but visual images of these hugely important episodes are very vague and have been muddled by 19th and 20th interpretations which put a romantic gloss on Scottish history. A lot of historians quite rightly stated that the film Braveheart was not terribly accurate, but what they didn't admit was that they didn't have a clue what would be accurate."

The military history specialist scoured original medieval eye-witness accounts, manuscripts, art, sculptures and tomb effigies to build up a picture of what members of Robert the Bruce's forces would have worn in 1314.

He was keen to debunk both the "Braveheart stereotype" of blue-faced, kilted hordes and the revisionist suggestion that medieval Scots soldiers were almost indistinguishable from their English opponents.

He said: "I believe both of these views are equally wrong. There is no need for this period to be shrouded in mystery as there is a wealth of evidence out there, which appears to have been almost completely ignored and overlooked.

"Forget about the plaid and tartan. What Highlanders did wear when they went into battle throughout the Middle Ages, right up until the end of the 16th century, was what English writers refer to as saffron war shirts, known in Gaelic as leine croich."

Cannan claims there were numerous contemporary references to the distinctive linen tunics which were usually worn with a belt round the middle. "The yellow war shirt is never shown in any film or popular image and yet it is something that all the original writers comment on. Saffron was a rare and expensive item to get hold of back then, so the poorer clansmen would have dyed the linen with things like horse urine, bark and crushed leaves to get the rich yellow colour. Historians of the time say the use of the real spice combined with the yards of material used was a symbol of status and the mark of a chieftain."

The author believes that the leine croich was worn for its practicality and could be used as bedding and well as an elementary form of armour. He said: "It was fairly thick and had so many yards of material that it was probably enough to stop a sword blow. When we hear from English writers of that time that Scots went into battle unprotected or semi-naked they didn't understand that what they wore was a form of armour.

"On top of the leine croich an average clansman would wear a deerskin or cowhide jerkin, which would be waxed or dipped in pitch to make it waterproof. However, a Scots nobleman of that era would have worn a long mail shirt or iron-riveted rings and a helmet."

Angus, Chief of Clan Chattan, recorded in 1572 that the "yellow war shirt" was still venerated by his people as "the badge of the Chieftaines".

However, the Gaelic historian Martin Martin, a native of Skye, wrote that saffron garments had fallen out of use at the end of the 16th century. Cannan claims the dyed garments were equally popular with Gaelic-speaking Irish warriors over the same periods in history.

Dr Clare Downham of Aberdeen University believes that Cannan's analysis fits with her knowledge of Celtic Scotland. She said: "The tartan kilt as we know it today is part of a romantic and more modern imagining of Scotland's past. But it is clear from records dating back to the 11th century that the Gaels were well known for going bare-legged and wearing a sort of form of plaid. The Norwegian king went to the Hebrides in 1098 and adopted the dress of the locals and became known as Magnus Barelegs when he returned home. This distinctive form of dress ethnically distinguished the Gaels at that time."

http://medievalnews.blogspot.com/2009/06/medi...ought.html
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 6:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's an excellent little book, by the way. Covers a wide range of periods and is well illustrated (not the usual 19th c. schlock, either--Graham Turner contributes color plates). Many will be pleased to know that the author has a section on who was doing the smithing and where.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Kevin P Molloy




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 9:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
It's an excellent little book, by the way. Covers a wide range of periods and is well illustrated (not the usual 19th c. schlock, either--Graham Turner contributes color plates). Many will be pleased to know that the author has a section on who was doing the smithing and where.


Thanks for the info, I just ordered it, sounds very interesting. I'm surprised I had not come across it already.

Kevin Patrick Molloy
"The Prince of Firceall of the Ancient Sword is O'Molloy of the Freeborn Name"... O'Dugain(d.1372AD)
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Till J. Lodemann





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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 9:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice article!
By the way, the use of urine as mordant was very common in the middle ages. Already in roman towns, the dyers collected the urine of the fellow citizens. It was a valuable raw material.
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Jack W. Englund




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 10:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kevin P Molloy wrote:
Sean Flynt wrote:
It's an excellent little book, by the way. Covers a wide range of periods and is well illustrated (not the usual 19th c. schlock, either--Graham Turner contributes color plates). Many will be pleased to know that the author has a section on who was doing the smithing and where.


Thanks for the info, I just ordered it, sounds very interesting. I'm surprised I had not come across it already.


Would you PLEASE provde a link to where the book may be purchased ???

Jack
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Mikael Ranelius




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 10:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

AFAIK medieval and 16th century Highlanders wore both the leine and the tartan brat (cloak). That being said, the bulk of the Scottish armies that fought at Bannockburn, Flodden and elsewhere were lowlanders and I doubt that they differed much from their English adversaries in terms of dress and appearance.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 12:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a purchase link that will actually reward myArmoury.com!

http://www.myArmoury.com/books/item.0747806985.html

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 1:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fergus' book is a good book that is worth a look. And I think the plaid/tartan/kilt/braveheart costume has long since been debunked. (sure wish wikipedia would take down that victorian engraving of the bruce reviewing an army at bannockburn that is in plaid kilts) Having said that, i think there is also plenty of evidence that medieval gaelic speaking people did wear hose, that not everyone went bare legs with no leggings or hose year round. and the irish men in particular did seem to keep a form of wool trousers (trews) in their dress long after hose replaced trousers elsewhere in europe.

http://www.reconstructinghistory.com/blog/tags/scottish

the only other quibble i have is that as far as i know the first actual reference to a saffron colored leine is still early 16th century. has that changed? i am not disagreeing with what Cannan is saying but my understanding is that bright yellow was not necessarily the predominant color of the leine much before the late 15th c.

Also the highland army at Harlaw in 1411 had a fair amount of armour, particularly helms and mail. Heck, they slogged it out on the field hand to hand for two solid days with the eastern burgesses and Mar's army (who were well armoured). I am sure there were men in Donald's army with minimal armour, but the highland scots had armour. on the other hand the Irish mercs at Stoke in 1487 seem to have been very poorly armoured, and were basically slaughtered by the royalist army within a few hours of the battle being joined. by nearly all accounts the kern in the yorkist army, while exhibiting incredible bravery and espirit, were cut down like cattle due to their lack of armour.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 4:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would have to look over his book but my initial feeling is he is speaking of highlanders, perhaps more some of the more rustic or isolated in lower Scotland. If he is trying to say this was how the lowlanders dressed on average then I have some primary sources he must have missed. The few effigies and inventories of Scots from the late medieval period show nearly 0 difference from their English or Continental contemporaries.

I would not mind having a look at his book but when I looked it up I could not find it in our inter-library loan.

His comments on colors are likely right. Not sure where the idea of drab earth tones comes from but it does not seem to be supported by art or literature of the period.

Not much real info to be gathered from the article to really ascertain if he is barking up the right tree or not.

Since most of the forces at most the major wars of Independence were lowlanders I am not thinking much has changed in my mind of the look of the battles. I know it is disappointing for highlanders to not have been the major movers in shaping most of medieval Scotland but such is life as the French say. Still they had some interesting events during the period so no reason to feel to left out.

I can trace my family back to the Wars of Independence as well.... not sure if that really helps my research though. I sure think it s neat but still not sure it boosted my search foo or research chi.

Here is a good review on the book I found while searching for it.

http://www.deremilitari.org/REVIEWS/Cannan_Sc...Armour.htm



Thom,

There is an account with the Earl of Dunbar while in London that includes hose so clearly it was done. I will look for a few when I have some time.

I sure hope this is not another one of those moves trying to receltisize the Scots. They might as well be blue and in kilts if so but I will read the book before making any real judgement.

RPM
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Andrew W




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 5:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am intensely skeptical of any claims that an ethnic group had a national costume that they wore for centuries. It sounds more like 19th century nationalism than anything else. But I figure if I'm going to bash the book, I should take a look at it - ILL request sent.
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Harry J. Fletcher




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 5:20 pm    Post subject: I wonder too...?         Reply with quote

I would have worn a jockstrap but they probably didn't have those then at least to my knowledge which is scant to say the least. Surely they must have worn something more substantial than kilts to keep their legs and other things warm as well if not protected. However in WWI we have pictures of Scot soldiers wearing kilts and heavy jackets or coats while wearing kilts at the front...burrrrrrrr! I would surmise that the tradition carries backward in time as well. Kilts would be very handy in one regard. Men going into battle facing death or terrible maiming wounds tended to defecate and urinate on themselves. This is often overlooked by historians but there are references to it in the classics. Professor Victor Davis Hanson discusses this in his well researched book THE WESTERN WAY OF WAR Infantry Battle in Classical Greece. The Scots in medieval warfare usually wore a pullover robe or tunic which reached down to the knees and a tartan cape around their shoulders for warmth. They carried a shoulder arm and shield usually a targe of somekind and a steel helmet similar to ones worn by the Normans at Hastings. Others may have simply worn kilts and a shirt as shown by latter paintings and carried forms of polearms. In their shield walls or schiltrons their garments would have come in handy to allow bodily functions caused from fear to pass away from between their legs and not to foul their garments too much. After all warfare had not changed much from the bloody carnage of hand to hand fighting of the classical times and most certainly men were men and still had their basic fear.
To Study The Edge of History


Last edited by Harry J. Fletcher on Fri 25 Mar, 2011 7:59 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Jack W. Englund




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 7:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have found this interesting. As a prior adviser on a "kilt forum" & a Moderator on a Scots forum, I often get somewhat "frustrated" Mad with claims on "proper attire" for our medieval Highland ancestors ( note Our = generic as I am descended from lowlanders ( Sir James Douglas)

Another "read" I woud suggest is Old Irish and Highland Dress
McClintock, H. F.
Although the Book version is out of print, ( still avail. but $$$$ ) it is avail on CD-ROM. for around $20.00

Jack
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Kevin P Molloy




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 8:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:


I sure hope this is not another one of those moves trying to receltisize the Scots. They might as well be blue and in kilts if so but I will read the book before making any real judgement.

RPM


Can you explain what is meant by "trying to receltisize the Scots"?

Kevin Patrick Molloy
"The Prince of Firceall of the Ancient Sword is O'Molloy of the Freeborn Name"... O'Dugain(d.1372AD)
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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 11:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jack W. Englund wrote:
Another "read" I woud suggest is Old Irish and Highland Dress
McClintock, H. F.
Although the Book version is out of print, ( still avail. but $$$$ ) it is avail on CD-ROM. for around $20.00

Jack


I'll second that book recommendation and add

Dress in Ireland, Mairead Dunleavy

http://www.amazon.com/Dress-Ireland-Mairead-D...amp;sr=8-1

also out of print like McClintock but occasionally a cheaper used copy can be found

Also I have already thrown out a link for "Reconstructing history" but I'll add a couple of more quotes from Kass McGann as she is about as knowledgeable on this subject as anyone

The léine was not the same thing to all Irish people throughout history. The word means "shirt". In the modern world, Irish speakers call everything from a tuxedo shirt to a tank top "léine" (plural "léinte"). As much as we re-enactors long for clothing terms that have definitive meaning, léine is about as specific as "top" and this fact should be not be overlooked.

..............the word léine (other historic spellings include léne, léinidh, lénni, léni, lenid, and the plural lénti) was used often to describe men and women's clothing. Many léinte are mentioned, but the shape of the garment is not described. Almost all of them are said to be wool and brightly coloured (brown-red, yellow, red, striped, and streaked are mentioned), but a few are described as linen or silk and some are white or gel ("bright"). The vast majority of these descriptions mention tons and tons of gold and red embroidery, from the chest to the knee in some cases

thanks for the info on the Earl of Dunbar Randall, approximately what date would that be? do you recall?
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Josh Warren




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 5:29 am    Post subject: Re: "Freedom!": What Medieval Scots Really Wore in         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:

"On top of the leine croich an average clansman would wear a deerskin or cowhide jerkin, which would be waxed or dipped in pitch to make it waterproof.

I want to know more about this. Is this evidence for leather armour?

Non Concedo
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 6:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kevin,

Basically during the modern period there was a push to show the descendants of the Celtic peoples still very much shared the same Celtic heritage of the Classical Period or shortly after. As well that they were some-what allied by culture or even unified due to this association. This is basically not true anywhere in Britain. Clearly early on the change is chiefly with the upper tiers of society but as hundreds of years go on the influence spreads downward and by the 13th century in Scotland and in Wales we have large sections of society who had adopted much from neighboring cultures.

So the idea that there were several countries during the late medieval period that still were basically the Celts of the Classical period and that they shared nearly the same homogeneous culture and were unified because of it is what I was referring.

Josh,

The review on De Re Militari indicates he gives a great number of examples without support so it might be that the leather armour in this case is such an item.


RPM
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 7:33 am    Post subject: Re: "Freedom!": What Medieval Scots Really Wore in         Reply with quote

Josh Warren wrote:
Craig Peters wrote:

"On top of the leine croich an average clansman would wear a deerskin or cowhide jerkin, which would be waxed or dipped in pitch to make it waterproof.

I want to know more about this. Is this evidence for leather armour?


Not so much protection against weapons as the weather. Any untreated leather exposed to Highland and especially Western Isles weather will be ruined fairly quickly. For a modern equivalent, think well proofed biker jacket....
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 3:21 pm    Post subject: Re: "Freedom!": What Medieval Scots Really Wore in         Reply with quote

Josh Warren wrote:
Craig Peters wrote:

"On top of the leine croich an average clansman would wear a deerskin or cowhide jerkin, which would be waxed or dipped in pitch to make it waterproof.

I want to know more about this. Is this evidence for leather armour?


I vaguely recall one 16th century reference that is somewhat difficult to translate, but seems to indicate more of a gambeson with an outer covering of deerskin, possibly waxed or pitch-coated for waterproofing. I don't know if there are any earlier references, though, so it might be a stretch to drag it back to the 14th century.

Harry, there have been any number of ancient and more recent cultures who went without trousers, all year long. The classic belted plaid or "great kilt" is a very large amount of wool, and all the guys I know who wear them at weekend reenactments have never had a problem being cold, even on snowy days in February. With wool stockings to the knees, there is very little exposed skin. Plus, people who live without modern heating and air conditioning become acclimated to the weather very easily. So as you say, with a wool tunic or two, some kind of leggings, and a cloak, you'll generally be fine.

Valete,

Matthew
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Kevin P Molloy




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PostPosted: Sun 27 Mar, 2011 5:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
Kevin,

Basically during the modern period there was a push to show the descendants of the Celtic peoples still very much shared the same Celtic heritage of the Classical Period or shortly after. As well that they were some-what allied by culture or even unified due to this association. This is basically not true anywhere in Britain. Clearly early on the change is chiefly with the upper tiers of society but as hundreds of years go on the influence spreads downward and by the 13th century in Scotland and in Wales we have large sections of society who had adopted much from neighboring cultures.

So the idea that there were several countries during the late medieval period that still were basically the Celts of the Classical period and that they shared nearly the same homogeneous culture and were unified because of it is what I was referring.

Josh,

The review on De Re Militari indicates he gives a great number of examples without support so it might be that the leather armour in this case is such an item.


RPM


Thanks Randall for clarifing that but it seems your king Robert the Bruce may have been partly to blame for this notion.

Copied from a scottish website;>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

This is revealed by a letter he sent to the Irish chiefs, where he calls the Scots and Irish collectively nostra nacio (our nation), stressing the common language, customs and heritage of the two peoples:

“Whereas we and you and our people and your people, free since ancient times, share the same national ancestry and are urged to come together more eagerly and joyfully in friendship by a common language and by common custom, we have sent you our beloved kinsman, the bearers of this letter, to negotiate with you in our name about permanently strengthening and maintaining inviolate the special friendship between us and you, so that with God's will our nation (nostra nacio) may be able to recover her ancient liberty.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Just Sayin! Big Grin

Kevin Patrick Molloy
"The Prince of Firceall of the Ancient Sword is O'Molloy of the Freeborn Name"... O'Dugain(d.1372AD)
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Mar, 2011 6:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah, Kevin. The Bruce had ties to the Gaelic communities of the Irish Sea through his mother's Galwegian roots. He was looking for support anywhere. Look at the source you drew that quote from, was it an early 20thC text? Older? A lot of context is lost in some earlier works, since some authors had a significant revisionist agenda.

Not that Bruce didn't write that or its gaelic equivalent - but what else was going on at the time?
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