c14th Highland/Isleman Clothing?

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c14th Highland/Isleman Clothing?

Post by kayleaeloise »

hey everyone :)

I have a friend who is researching what highland/isleman scots would have been wearing in the c14th, so he asked if i could put a request on here for info/sources he could search out, as apprently clothing for that area of scotland in that era isn't well documented ....

thanks in advance :)

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Re: c14th Highland/Isleman Clothing?

Post by Stuart Quayle »

Hi Kayleaeloise

My first guess (and that is all it is) would be to say that the Highland and Western Isles civilian male dress code would be almost identical to what was being worn in Ireland during the 14th century, i.e. the 'Leine and Mantle', with linen Trues or going bare-legged being an either-or option.

The Leine pronounced "LAY neh" being a long, gusseted, and voluminous woollen cloth tunic descending to knee length, tied at the waist with a leather belt.

The Mantle, again made of soft, woollen cloth, is a sort of short cloak or poncho worn over the Leine.

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Re: c14th Highland/Isleman Clothing?

Post by Wim-Jaap »

you could mail these people.. they re-enact Gallowglass 1306.


They did extensive research to the period.


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Re: c14th Highland/Isleman Clothing?

Post by zauberdachs »

This is an excellent summary of what evidence their is:


This is the best book I've seen on the subject, it might date to the 1950's but it hasn't really been bested

McClintock, H. F. Old Irish and Highland Dress, and that of the Isle of Man, 2nd and enlarged ed. Dundalk: Dundalgan Press (W. Tempest) Ltd, 1950.
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Re: c14th Highland/Isleman Clothing?

Post by Mark Griffin »

there are original clothes from around that area, but not the leine and mantle mentioned. I'd go with that, its probably the most common.I take great delight in showing visitors that get up when doing flooden presentations, they just can't understand why we don't look like a cross between braveheart and rob roy.

I've just got 'Highlander- A history of the Highland Clans' by Fitzroy Maclean, and its got a surprising amount of good medieval source material in it. Wee bit dated but good nontheless
http://www.griffinhistorical.com. A delicious decadent historical trifle. Thick performance jelly topped with lashings of imaginative creamy custard. You may also get a soggy event management sponge finger but it won't cost you hundreds and thousands.

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Re: c14th Highland/Isleman Clothing?

Post by Regiment57 »

Highland clothing of the fourteenth century is not easy to recreate given the sparsity of evidence available to us. However, there are a number of issues that need to be considered when trying to recreate Highlanders of this period, they are not Gallowglass, equally they are not dominated by, or automatically allied to Island families. Highlanders of the central and eastern highlands were distinct in many ways from their western cousins and were more readily influence by events from the south including fashions. The basis of the Highland, as opposed to island clothing cultures remained their Gaelic heritage but they were also under the influence of other cultures in a more robust way and were in the main not as wealthy as the Islanders.

The only surviving Leine is the Rogart shirt - tentitively dated to the early fourteenth century. This is an un-gussetted and un-gored plain tunic with a length of 45" and the front and back panels being 29" wide. The sleeve is in two parts forming a tapering piece from the shoulder/armpit seam to the cuff. It is made of very pootly woven cloth with many errors and changes in the yarn but is believed to have been essentially a plain colour as opposed to be an attempt at a striped pattern. The length of the Leine, in this case is around knee length but the 'fashion' was often to wear it 'belted-up' thus raising the hem significantly.

Other items of clothing mentioned in writings of Highland men include; the Brat - a 12'-15' long piece of cloth made from two strips or 25"-27" wide cloth and used as a wrap, coat and cloak. This is often regarded as the early ancestor of the plaid; The casag - a short loose over tunic, sometimes with a hood and sometimes refered to as a Casag Mor. As for the mantle, I have found no reference to this with regard to clothing earlier than the sixteenth century - it is possible that this is a later and styalised brat as the liguistically the brat can now be translated as a mantle as well as a covering, a veil and an overgarment . There are also indications that despite the common image of Highlanders as being completely bare legged, they were begining to adopt short hose and in the case of richer men even full length hose under longer Leines - as in lowland dress.

This is a difficult period of Highland history to be exact about in terms of clothing and clearly the people of the central and eastern Highlands were in a kind of fashion transition as a result of incoming lowland lords who were more readily accepted compared to the west, hence the differences starting to emerge in their clothing culture from that of the Islanders and particularly the Irish.

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Re: c14th Highland/Isleman Clothing?

Post by MishnishSeannachie »

kayleaeloise wrote:hey everyone :)

I have a friend who is researching what highland/isleman scots would have been wearing in the c14th, so he asked if i could put a request on here for info/sources he could search out, as apprently clothing for that area of scotland in that era isn't well documented ....

thanks in advance :)
So long as you (or your friend) want to represent a member of the West Highland Nobility dressed and ready for war, the best evidence is written in stone.


^This fellow for instance is Bricius MacFingone, or Gillebride MacKinnon if you prefer. Chief on the Clan MacKinnon, he was Master of the Household of the Lord of the Isles and died at the hands of the MacLeans c. 1355 or so. According to MacKinnon tradition he fought at Bannockburn in 1314, which if true would mean he was likely a teenager at the time of the battle or an old Man when he was murdered. Bannerman and Steer date the effigy as stylistically belonging to the later half of the 14th century, which is in the prime time frame of what your friend is looking for.


^The only addition I would make to the above, is that the heater-style shield is likely more for armorial purposes rather than an accurate representation of what he would have carried into battle. The shields that were actually used by the West Highlanders at this time (14th century) is a matter of some debate - a round shield is most likely, similar to the later viking period is what some people decide to go for. You could even get away with using something approaching a large 17th century Targe (minus the spike). Some would disagree with the later, but it's the approach taken by Seán Ó Brógáin on pg. 49 of Galloglass: 1250-1600 by Fergus Cannan.


^Another example is Lauchlan (the rest of the inscription can no longer be read). Also located on Iona, this dates to the early 1400s. As you can see, not everybody needs a shield :wink: .

Here are a few more Iona Unknowns - if I remember correctly these are all thought to be 15th century (Not a huge difference in West Highland terms):




Here's another famous image from St. Clement's Church, Rodel, Harris:

^It's from the tomb of Alasdair Crotach MacLeod showing a hunting expedition(c.1450-c.1547]). Also gives a better idea of what those who were a step below the Nobility may have worn.


^This one here is from Iona, showing some regular folks getting ready to butcher a cow.


^Again, another MacLeod, this one from Harris. If I'm not mistaken in my memory, this is the effigy of Roderick, 7th Chief of the MacLeods of Lewis (so mid-15th century).

If you're more into the priestly type, these might be helpful as well:


^Abbot John MacKinnon of Iona (Abbot between c.1467 and c. 1500).


Donald MacDuffie, prior of Oronsay (active c.1538-1554).


At the very least this should give you something to aim for if you intend to be authentic. Unfortunately the written record for the 14th century in the West Highlands is . . .shall we say, somewhat sparse? Particularly when it comes to clothing. The best evidence comes from the surviving examples of West Highland Monumental Sculpture. Secondary evidence comes from much later depictions (such as the famous 1580s woodcuts, Durer drawings, etc), or written evidence, and then extrapolating backwards. The main problem with the later approach is that it is not always from a definitively West Highland, or even Highland context. Often it is taking our best guesses as to what was period appropriate Irish dress, and then applying it to the Western Islanders. Using images from the 1580s to extrapolate what people wore two hundred years earlier in the 1380s in a culturally similar context - well let's just say that the mileage varies depending on who the extrapolater is.

I'll leave with one last image (I promise) showing a feast of the Chief of "Mac Sweynes" in Ireland, from 1581. Braigetori and all!


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Re: c14th Highland/Isleman Clothing?

Post by Grymm »


RtBs statute of1318 states that a man with £10+ of moveable goods should have an acton(think they mean aketon not a part of London), bascinet, gauntlets, sword and a spear. More cash meant a 'hooded iron jack'(?) plate gauntlets an iron knapscall.
small folk (owning one cow or less) just 'a good spear(12'-14') or a good bow and a schaph of arrows(24)'
English chroniclers circa Bannockburn mention the Scots equipped with helmets, shields, light but sword-proof armour, axe at side and spear in hand.
Froissart mentions most men carrying sounding horns.
He also bangs on about the Scottish prediliction for using axes 'had great axes sharp and hard' 'took a little battleaxe from his back....handled it in one hand.....which feat the Scots be well expert'

On Edward II charter to Carlisle are some Scottish PBI (what froissart calls ribaudaille) armed with axe and heater shield and some sort of short hooded cape (brat?) and a shirt pulled up between his legs. The chaps in the castle are English the rest are Scots

Some pics and info here http://livinghistory.co.uk/forums/viewt ... ght=tartan

Y'may want to mooch around here n'all http://livinghistory.ie/index.php
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Re: c14th Highland/Isleman Clothing?

Post by randallmoffett »

Some very interesting information here. I have read through a great deal of Scot records from the 14th century but the amount of information on the Highlands is as many have said sparse. In fact I have not seen so many examples until I opened this post up. I had seen many of the effigies Mishnish put up but not in one place. Really interesting how there is so little variation over a fair amount of time.

My only comment is what Regiment 57 said. There are several parts of the Highlands and during the later High Medieval and Late Medieval Period may southern lords are placed up there so it is highly likely they had their own style of clothing and that many of their households as well. From the info here which is far more than I had seen in one place I'd go as a Highlander of the Isles as it would seem there is more information or an implanted noble from the south, as once again their is more information.

My group does a Scottish Household in Annan/Esk/Ewesdale so I have done as much research on this period as I can for lowlanders and the few inventories I have seen (mostly 2nd half of 14th) shows small variance from English once of the time. I am not surprised as so many Scots had a great number of relations with people in the south, many even owning lands in both kingdoms. That said this is a lowland/border family so there is a great difference between them and the Highlanders in many respects from what I have seen.


I always assumed the Iron 'jack' in your version (in mine it is coat) was a pair of plates. I had the original that I translated last time I was up there but lost it when I moved from York to Soton and never had time to go and look at the original. I think the original said iron coat. As it is a habergeon or good iron coat I suspect it is even more likely a pair of plates as it would be silly and redundant for a habergeon or a habergeon. Acton is actually a fairly common term used for an Aketon, Haketon, Hacqueton, etc.

This is from the most recent translation of this statute I have-

Concerning the equipment of those coming to the war according to [the amount] they have in goods Item, it was ordained and assented that each layman of the kingdom having £10 in goods should have for his body in defence of the kingdom a sufficient haqueton,† a basinet, and mailed gloves with a lance and sword. And anyone who shall not have a haqueton and a bacinet should have a good habergeon† or a good iron coat [coat of mail-editors note](I actually think this is likely a coat of plates-my notes) for his body, a cap of iron and mailed gloves, so that each should be prepared with the said equipment around the octave of Easter next to come [15 April 1319]. And whoever has £10 in goods [and] shall not then have all the said equipment of arms should lose all his goods. With the proviso that the lord king [Robert I] should have a half of the goods and the lord of he who was found to be in default should have the other half. And the lord king wishes that each sheriff of the kingdom with the lords of places should investigate concerning these things and immediately cause a muster after the aforesaid octave of Easter. Moreover the lord king wishes and commands that anyone having the value of one cow in goods should have a good lance (or spear-me) or a good bow with a sheath of arrows, namely twenty-four arrows with the pertinents, under the prescribed penalty.

Robert I, 3 Dec. 1318, Scone Scotland, Scot. Parl.
http://www.rps.ac.uk/search.php?action= ... 78&t=trans


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