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Richard Worthington





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PostPosted: Sun 09 Jul, 2017 11:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, P.S. I looked up "Targaid" in MacAlpine: the Scottish pronunciation is "targaj" according to him. Am Faclair Beag gives "taragid(j)"
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Jul, 2017 5:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes small to medium sized flat round shields have been used by the peoples of Ireland and Scotland from the bronze age up until the end of the Jacobite rebellions. However the thing that really differentiates targes from earlier round shields is the method of grip. Targes are strapped to the arm, while earlier shields were held with a central grip. When the switch from one style of grip to the other happened is the question. I believe that this was probably sometime in the 16th century.

The style of decoration on Highland targes is definitely of Gaelic origin. We don't know exactly when the the Gaels started to decorate their shields with engraving, embossing, and patterns of brass nails, but many steel targets are also engraved or embossed, and brass nails though not used to form patterns are often used in their construction. Another feature that Highland targes share with 16th century steel targets is the use of a vestigial central boss, sometimes fitted with a spike. This all leads me to think that the characteristic decoration on Highland targes started in the 16th century.

Most scians, bollocks, and dirks had similar blades. As far as the hilts go. I don't have any problem with the bollock dagger to dirk development. I don't think that the Irish scian figures into this development though. It's a different design in my opinion.

As for the pronunciation of targaid. It varies depending on region. In Munster (where I'm from) and Connacht it's pronounced targid / targit. In Ulster and Scotland it's pronounced targij / targidj. Which pronunciation is closer to that of the 16th century I don't know, but I'd still be willing to bet that the word targaid was derived from target.

Éirinn go Brách
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Richard Worthington





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PostPosted: Sun 09 Jul, 2017 7:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent points.

I had thought Sir Neil O'Neill's sgian hilt had knotwork, but it turns out it is decorated with a human figure.

Regarding West Highland grave slabs, it should be noted that conventional shields are also tiny on them:



Modern Scots Gaelic is dominated by the dialects of the Western Isles. MacAlpine is a mid-nineteenth century dictionary.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Jul, 2017 4:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You are right. Many of the heater style shields seen on West Highland grave slabs are fairly small. The ironic thing is the Highland Scots have a reputation for using large weapons. The reality is that both the shields and the two handed swords used by Highlanders were a good bit smaller than the equivalent weapons from other European countries. My thought is that because the Highlanders didn't tend to use baggage trains, they chose to carry smaller lighter weapons.
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Richard Worthington





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PostPosted: Mon 10 Jul, 2017 9:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Like their Norse ancestors/relations, the West Highlanders traveled by sea.



But Highlanders as a whole traditionally were armed light and traveled light. MacKay couldn't go after them with his conventional troops due to lack of provisions in 1689.
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Neal Matheson




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Jul, 2017 10:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The highlanders were and indeed often still are a small bunch generally speaking, past masters often talk of weapon sizes in relation to the human form. . There are some who interpret the smaller shields as artistic convention, certainly possible. That's a great image Stephen.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Jul, 2017 11:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Neal. If you're referring to the woodcut I posted, it's from Hans Burgkmair's Der Weisskunig.

I used to always think of the small size of the shields on West Highland grave slabs as artistic license, but considering that the Highland targe is smaller than the targets used by other countries, perhaps the size of the shields on the grave slabs is accurate.

Éirinn go Brách
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Richard Worthington





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PostPosted: Mon 10 Jul, 2017 12:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Artistically speaking (which is very soft evidence), a larger shield would obscure the figure. Unlike me, they were more concerned with the figure than the shield. LOL! Happy
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Jul, 2017 2:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well if you look at the figure on the left of this image; http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-west-highlan...18751.html I think that it's fairly clear that in this case at least, the small size of the shield is artistic license.
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Richard Worthington





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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jul, 2017 1:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So, does anyone know anything about THIS targe: it seems to have horn-backed bosses. The tulip motif makes me wonder if it is a Williamite targe.


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Tulip targe.jpg

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Richard Worthington





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PostPosted: Fri 14 Jul, 2017 5:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So, I had a look at Maxwell's system of classification, which has a few references to Whitelaw's as well.

I have already started on my own classification, and find I agree with Maxwell on the basics.

The two main types are those which:
A. Consist of a central boss with concentric circles of nails and tooling around the boss, and
B. Have a central boss with a ring of nails, around which are arranged circles of nails, with or without their own bosses in the space between the rim and the central boss. I see four to eight "orbital" circles around the central boss. A few I have seen have two orbital rings of four circles.

The main problem I see with Maxwell's system is that he was dealing with a small sample size, and trying to fit too much detail into his basic framework. An example is flat brass plates, which I find simply augment the basic design in most cases (but see previous post). He tries to fit them into their own subclass, based on just a few examples. On the other hand I think I have about sixty targes to consider, which must represent a hefty proportion of surviving targes (pre-1750).

BTW, The Scottish Art Review, 1963: Scottish Weapons also has nice articles on ballock daggers, heart-butt pistols, John Allan, and a hand and a half sword from the River Clyde.
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