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Jason O C





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PostPosted: Tue 14 Nov, 2017 4:26 pm    Post subject: Scottish Arms Manufacture         Reply with quote

So as far as I know, arms and armour were not manufactured in the Highlands of Scotland. This means that Highlanders had to travel south to buy their weapons from merchants and craftsmen in the cities of the Lowlands. My question is, did these Lowland merchants and craftsmen cater to the Highland market by making weapons that were in some way distinctively Highland in style, or did Highlanders and Lowlanders use the same stuff?

If we take the targe for example. Did Lowland shieldwrights carve Celtic knotwork into the leather faces of their targes to appeal to potential Highland shoppers? Or was this carving added by somebody back home in the Highlands?

Baskethilt broadswords and all-steel pistols are two weapons that the Scots definitely made in their own distinctive style, but were there any regional differences between Highland and Lowland styles?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Jason
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Nov, 2017 3:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As I understand it, a lot of sword blades were actually imported from Germany, maybe Italy also, and then hilted in Scotland in their distinctive Highland/Lowland styles. Happy .....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Jason O C





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PostPosted: Wed 15 Nov, 2017 5:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Mark . Yes sword blades were indeed mostly imported from the continent and hilted in places like Stirling and Glasglow. What I'm trying to find out is, was there a difference in hilt styles aimed at the Highland and Lowland markets?

I don't think that dirks and targes were commonly used by Lowlanders, but what about baskethilt broadswords and Scots pistols, were these weapons popular amongst Lowlander?

Jason
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Nov, 2017 6:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Once again, as I understand it---most Lowland clans would typically adopt continental European-style hilts, while the Highlanders leaned toward the classic 'Highland Claymore' (two-hander) style with the down-swept guard. But, I'm sure the Highlanders would use anything they could get.
The Lowlanders seemed more likely to adapt to continental trends, including clothing, etc. The Highlanders were more steadfast to tradition, keeping more to there roots. So, yes, you could say there was a good bit of difference. Happy .......McM

''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Nov, 2017 6:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As for pistols and basket hilts, I believe the Lowlanders more favored English-style hilts. Pistols? No idea. I would think they would use the same style. I know very little about early firearms. Worried ......McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Jason O C





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PostPosted: Wed 15 Nov, 2017 12:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Moore wrote:
As for pistols and basket hilts, I believe the Lowlanders more favored English-style hilts.


If it is true that the baskethilts made by the craftsmen of Stirling and Glasgow were not very popular with Lowlanders, then wouldn't this mean that they were specifically made to be sold to Highlanders? I find this somewhat hard to believe, but I don't know if any evidence to the contrary.

Jason
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Nov, 2017 2:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I say the Lowlanders might have favored English hilts. I can't be for sure totally. I'm sure the Highlanders were capable of making their own hilts though, without having to buy them from the Lowland market....or at least it would seem so. Wink ....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Nov, 2017 3:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Scottish Arms Manufacture         Reply with quote

Jason O C wrote:
So as far as I know, arms and armour were not manufactured in the Highlands of Scotland. This means that Highlanders had to travel south to buy their weapons from merchants and craftsmen in the cities of the Lowlands. My question is, did these Lowland merchants and craftsmen cater to the Highland market by making weapons that were in some way distinctively Highland in style, or did Highlanders and Lowlanders use the same stuff?

If we take the targe for example. Did Lowland shieldwrights carve Celtic knotwork into the leather faces of their targes to appeal to potential Highland shoppers? Or was this carving added by somebody back home in the Highlands?

Baskethilt broadswords and all-steel pistols are two weapons that the Scots definitely made in their own distinctive style, but were there any regional differences between Highland and Lowland styles?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Jason


Celtic decoration was not nearly as common among Highlanders as is believed today. It certainly appears here and there but was not ubiquitous.

The Scottish gunsmiths and hiltmakers, along with other craftsmen who catered to the Highland trade, were certainly aware of the tastes of their customers. It appears that there were not many weapons makers in the Highlands, beyond the local blacksmith who could make axes, knives, etc. Most Highlanders did go south to obtain their weapons. Pistol making in the town of Doune, was a major trade at the time and the craftsmen there produced a distinctive product which was carried by Lowlander and Highlander alike. As for the Scottish National Long Guns, they were also produced, in very small quantities, in the Lowlands and, aside from the Grants, it appears that few Highlanders managed to obtain them. Basket hilts were made in Stirling, Glasgow and elsewhere while the blades came mostly from Flanders and the Germanies, especially the area around Solingen. Dirks were produced in Scotland and again, the blades were frequently imported. Broken sword blades were regularly hilted and turned into dirks.

As far as two-handers, while they were used by Highlanders it seems to me from my reading, the ever mobile Highlander preferred something smaller and lighter.

That is about all I can add to the conversation.

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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Jason O C





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PostPosted: Wed 15 Nov, 2017 4:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you very much Lin. Your answer is basically what I suspected but had no evidence for.

Jason
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Nov, 2017 4:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All I can add to this is that I've read that the beak-nosed ribbon hilt is a style particularly associated with, and possibly made in, the West Highlands.

I think that the hilts on Highland style two handed swords were probably made in the Highlands, because as far as I know this style doesn't show up elsewhere in the country. The predecessor to this style, the single handed sword with downward sloped quillons and teardrop shaped pommels, show up all over Scotland so I think that there is a good chance that these were made in the Lowlands.

If I remember correctly, one gunsmith trained in Doune (Macleod I think?) lived somewhere in the Highlands where he made and sold Scots all-steel pistols. So it seems, as Lin said, most weapons were manufactured in the Lowlands with a smaller amount made in the Highlands.

Éirinn go Brách
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Nov, 2017 2:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
All I can add to this is that I've read that the beak-nosed ribbon hilt is a style particularly associated with, and possibly made in, the West Highlands.

I think that the hilts on Highland style two handed swords were probably made in the Highlands, because as far as I know this style doesn't show up elsewhere in the country. The predecessor to this style, the single handed sword with downward sloped quillons and teardrop shaped pommels, show up all over Scotland so I think that there is a good chance that these were made in the Lowlands.

If I remember correctly, one gunsmith trained in Doune (Macleod I think?) lived somewhere in the Highlands where he made and sold Scots all-steel pistols. So it seems, as Lin said, most weapons were manufactured in the Lowlands with a smaller amount made in the Highlands.


In all my years of reading and researching the weaponry of Scottish warriors, Highland and Lowland, I have yet to see any documentation that proves there was any kind of weapons manufacturing industry in the Highlands. That does not preclude there being craftsmen scattered here and there, although a particular surname does not necessarily mean that the person was a resident of the Highlands when he worked, Alexander Campbell of Doune being a prime example. There is one pistol pictured in Martin Kelvin's book on the Scottish pistol, which was made by a smith by the name of Macleod and so marked. However, this pistol, according to Mr. Kelvin, was made c. 1820. It does exhibit several characteristics common to other pistols of that era, including a roller frizzen, platinum lined vent and a waterproof pan. Kelvin has a very informative index of makers of Scottish pistols in his book, which he says is "selective." He also lists a table showing the locations of Scottish pistol makers, taken from lock plates and guild records, etc. While he lists a large group for which no location can be pinpointed, he assigns 451 to towns and cities in the Lowlands. 229 total between Edinburgh and Doune. No Highland locations are mentioned. There is nothing in the record to indicate that any Scottish National Long Guns were made in the Highlands and most of the makers have been identified and located. There are only 28 of these guns extant.

Interesting question on the beak nosed ribbon hilt. IMHO it was made in the Lowlands like every other basket hilt sword produced in Scotland. It appears to me that the documentation of makers of these swords was not done very often until the Glasgow and Stirling school of hilt-making became prominent. There is more information out there on the Allans and Simpson than any other makers. Of course, I have not examined the hammerman guild's records to see what they say and do not know of any thing referencing them. There is a book coming out eventually on the basket hilt which is going to be so darn expensive that I will never own a copy. It may include that sort of information.

Regarding two-handers and the evolution from the single hand sword with down swept guards, I think that only three of the swords have been found, but effigies in the West Highlands display a number of similar swords. A possible ancestor of mine, Brice MacKinnon, has one on his effigy. Like the other weapons used by Highlanders, and these hand-and-a-half swords were not necessarily being used by Highlanders when they were lost, I believe they were made in the Lowlands. My reasoning being that there simply is no documentation supporting the notion of anything other than one-off weapons being made in the Highlands.

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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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Nov, 2017 4:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Lin. Perhaps I'm mis-remembering or perhaps I was misinformed by the person who told me about gunsmith producing pistols in the Highlands. Either way I trust that you know what you are talking about on this subject so thanks for the correction.

I do know that I've definitely read that the beak-nosed ribbon hilt is a West Highland style. What evidence there is to back to this claim, I have no idea but now I'm curious enough to go looking for it.

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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Nov, 2017 9:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
Hi Lin. Perhaps I'm mis-remembering or perhaps I was misinformed by the person who told me about gunsmith producing pistols in the Highlands. Either way I trust that you know what you are talking about on this subject so thanks for the correction.

I do know that I've definitely read that the beak-nosed ribbon hilt is a West Highland style. What evidence there is to back to this claim, I have no idea but now I'm curious enough to go looking for it.


You got me more interested in the ribbon hilts. So, I scanned my references, most of which refer to them in passing in order to get to the later Glasgow and Stirling hilts. Wallace, in his book Scottish Swords and Dirks says that the ribbon hilt, because of the crude (by comparison) construction, may have been made in the Highlands. Withers, in Scottish Swords, 1600-1945 opines that they could have been copied from swords brought back to Scotland by Scottish mercenaries who had served in Europe and Ireland. He states that a similar style existed in Europe and England. None of my other references mentioned an origin but I am still looking.

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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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Fri 24 Nov, 2017 4:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi again Lin. So I've searching the internet for evidence of beak nosed ribbon hilts produced in the West Highlands and all I can find (when people cite their sources which most do not) is the reference you mentioned from Wallace's book. Some people have misrepresented Wallace's words by saying that he said that the beak nosed ribbon hilt was a West Highland style, when all he said is that it may have been a West Highland style.
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Fri 24 Nov, 2017 11:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have often wondered about the earlier period (1300-1500) arms shown on Western Highland graveslabs. The sword blades look pretty standard but combination of downswept quillons and lobated pommels (Oakeshott M or occasional fish-tails) seem very particular to the region. Is it really possible that these were made in the lowlands as well? And what about Ireland?
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Fri 24 Nov, 2017 2:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
I have often wondered about the earlier period (1300-1500) arms shown on Western Highland graveslabs. The sword blades look pretty standard but combination of downswept quillons and lobated pommels (Oakeshott M or occasional fish-tails) seem very particular to the region. Is it really possible that these were made in the lowlands as well? And what about Ireland?


It is entirely possible that these swords, also mentioned further up, were manufactured in the Lowlands or in Ireland. Since the thread has focused on who made the weapons for Highlanders and was there a Highland weapons manufacturing industry, we have been looking at where they were most likely to come from and that is not the Highlands. There is no record indicating any kind of manufacturing base in the north and northwest which could turn out the weaponry favored by the Highlander, at least not in quantity. But we know there was one in the Lowlands, making swords (with imported blades), dirks, pistols and a few long guns. Targes were apparently made in the Lowlands too. Bonnie Prince Charlie tried to equip some of his Lowland levies with them, ordering some from, if memory serves, some Edinburgh makers.

Lin Robinson

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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 25 Nov, 2017 5:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. We discussed this subject on another recent thread that you might want to take a look at: http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=35710

As I said this style of hilt was used all over Scotland (not just the Highlands) so I think that it was moatt likely produced in the cities of the Lowlands.

I forgot to mention this earlier but aren't their sources which speak of "hieland hilts"? This would suggest that Lowland craftsmen probably did make different styles of hilt to suit different clientele.

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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Sat 25 Nov, 2017 11:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
As I said this style of hilt was used all over Scotland (not just the Highlands)


Certainly the downswept quillons, but I have the impression from available information that the lobated pommel was more of a Western Highland / Hebrides fashion vs. wheel pommel with extended peen block in the South / East.

Not that this goes against your point about origin. But even in the absence of evidence I'd be surprised if there were no local cutlers able to pull off local styles using imported blades. That's just intuition, not fact.
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Mon 27 Nov, 2017 7:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Martin Kelvin, in his book on Scottish pistols, devotes a chapter to shipping lists. This is important to the book because it indicates where the raw material for handguns, as well as other weapons, was coming from, and in what quantities. In the late 16th century much of the iron and brass or bronze arriving in Dundee was coming from Sweden. One list appears to indicate the names of those blacksmiths/weapons makers who were taking delivery on the raw materials. None of them had Highland names.

Another thing to consider when looking at this information is, "what was the source of payment for these shipments?" Cash was always a scarce commodity in Scotland. It was estimated around 1700 that there were no more than 150,000 pounds in cash circulating in Scotland. Certainly the Highland economy did not control much of that, since a lot of the trading done in the Highlands involved bartering. The extant shipping lists also indicate that the iron brought in arrived in huge quantities. Could some of this iron have gone to Highland weapons makers, if there were any? Certainly, but the question of payment still looms large and it is doubtful that any Lowland merchant would willingly extend credit to a Highland sword smith.

Again, individual craftsmen could have been working in the Highlands but there is no record of them either, as nearly as I can determine. Styles were influenced by the buyers, for certain, but it is unlikely that Highland makers set trends for the end users. Just don't think there were any.

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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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Nov, 2017 12:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good post Lin.
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