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Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
Joined: 14 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jul, 2011 7:06 pm    Post subject: 15th Century Scottish Highland Warrior Kit         Reply with quote

I'm truly amazed by some the of collections and parts to these collections I've seen on this site. I've only got one sword in my own 'collection', a mediocre quality Claymore reproduction. I'd like to expand that as time goes on,l but first I'm looking to complete a highland warrior kit for the approximate 15th century. My best information has come from this site, on the Features section. I've assembled an inventory of a Leine type of tunic, a leather brigandine, leather helm, ring belt, although a baldric for the claymore scabbard, below the knee lace up boots, plaid cloak, along with other incidental kit items. I'm struggling with the idea of a shield in use with a sword that can be wielded one handed sometimes but will use two hands much of the time.
For my collection expansion after the above I'm considering a Viking set up, but haven't reached any conclusions on that yet.
I'd appreciate any constructive input or thoughts on the above..... thanks in advance
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Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jul, 2011 11:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Greg, This is an area I've spent a little time on lately, so hopefuly I can be of some assistance.

For starters, as you seem to want to base your persona around a two handed claymore which you already have (some pictures would be nice :-) ), the last decade of the 15th century is the earliest we can go, also you'l be looking to portray a wealthy gallowglass style warrior. For this you'l need;

a leine which reaches to just above the knee, when belted, with long narrow sleeves,

an aketon (cotun in Gaelic), which is a piece of padded armour for the body, extending to just above the knees and down to the wrists,

a mail standard (or bishops mantle) goes over this, with a basinet style helmet on the head,

a mail shirt of the same length as the aketon could be added if you can afford it,

you'l be either bare legged and bare foot or have a pair of simple leather/rawhide shoes which reach the ankle,

a bollock dagger would be worn on a leather belt around the waist, but you should either carry your claymore unsheathed or in a scabbard in you'r hands without baldric or belt.

Éirinn go Brách
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Neal Matheson




Location: sussex UK
Joined: 08 Feb 2009
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jul, 2011 11:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

....again this is something I have been looking at with some interest recently. I would agree with Stephen (or Mr Curtin if he prefers).
There are quite a few depictions of of 15th Century highlanders on gravestones and a few near contemporary descriptions so there is plenty to work from. There are some threads on Highland Scot's shields on the forum. I know of two depictions of round shields from graveslabs the rest being heaters. The heaters may be armourial in any case Highlanders are not typically described as carrying shields at that time.
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Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jul, 2011 11:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh yeah I almost forgot, the combo of a leather helmet and leather brigandine doesn't seem like a good idea for a highland Scot. Firstly because their isn't any evidence for it, and secondly a man with enough money to afford a brigandine would also be able to afford a steel helmet, also from a modern point of view historically accurate brigandines are fairly expensive.

An alternative to the above kit, while still keeping the two handed claymore, would perhaps be to portray one of the so called "redshanks" from about 1590 - 1650. For this you will need;

a shirt and short doublet, others might be able to tell you more about period appropriate styles,

a belted plaid a.k.a. great kilt,

go bare headed for the earlier part of this period, or a blue bonnet for later,

a dirk and towards the end of this period perhaps also a pistol.

As your main weapon is a two handed claymore I dont think you'l be needing a shield, but targes were in use at this time.

I hope this has been of some help, but if have any more questions or would like me to go into more detail, I'd be more than happy to.

P.S. Neal, no need for formalities you can call me Stephen, Steve, Stevie, whatever takes you'r fancy.

Éirinn go Brách
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Thom R.




Location: Tucson
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jul, 2011 10:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In general I agree with the lists above but I do have have two small quibbles. One - I see plenty of evidence of highland men wearing hose in the late 15th and early16th c. Two - I still haven't seen a confirmed date earlier than about 1510 for the two handed claymore with the classic quatrefoil ends on the cross. So if that is what you are building your kit around I would suggest thinking more about early 16th c for your kit. A backup weapon other than a dagger, i.e. a single hand sword or long knife also seems to have been common among the professional gallowglass. We actuallly have a lot more written references to the "half lang" for this period than the great sword. tr
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Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jul, 2011 11:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Thom, I definately agree that half-langs were way more popular than two handers, but Greg already has a two hander so I didn't bother mentioning half-langs. I thought that there was evidence of a two hander in the last decade of the 15th century but I could be mis-remembering. Either way the items listed above would also fit just fine into the 16th century. I also agree that some of the west highland grave slabs from this period might be wearing hoes or perhaps even trews, though all the literal sources I've found, speak of highlanders going bare legged.
Éirinn go Brách
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Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
Joined: 14 Feb 2011
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Posts: 233

PostPosted: Fri 22 Jul, 2011 2:38 pm    Post subject: Appreciate the Responses         Reply with quote

I really appreciate the responses to my post. I believe I've been given some quite accurate information. On this day when the highest temperature ever recorded in the state of MD in the USA has been recorded, I wonder if I'm going to need to sacrifice some historical accuracy in the interest of feasibility.... I had already had some reservations about heat buildup, as my kit would mostly be worn at festivals and gatherings normally scheduled during the spring, summer and early fall. And while I would not describe myself as a fat man (who would) I'm still on the fairly large side and experience heat buildup perhaps sooner than the average person. I had been thinking of a short sleeved leine, and long sleeves along with the aketon could be problematic on a summer day.
I guess I'll think about all this, read more as I can find it, and continue to admire the information, pictures, and knowledge on this site. Maybe I'll go for additional swords rather than complete kit, but that would be a difficult direction to maintain indefinitely....... there are a number of months between now and 2012 festival schedule after all, and I could assemble both a feasible and a more accurate kit. Why not, its only money
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Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
Joined: 14 Feb 2011
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Posts: 233

PostPosted: Fri 22 Jul, 2011 2:48 pm    Post subject: The Claymore         Reply with quote

Sorry, I meant to include a link to the Claymore - http://www.armsofvalour.com/miva/merchant.mv?...y_Code=DSA
there is a website for Darksword Amory as well, but I didn't have it at hand
The sword is decent enough I believe, but I plan to re-wrap the grip as the leather it came with is simply a single layer of leather with a vertical glued seam, which has problems on several levels. I've never held a finely made sword like an Albion, so I can't speak to the comparison with the one I have. I have handled it some, and it appears to have reasonable balance, but then I really have nothing to compare it to. Next time I'll spend more and go for higher quality.
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