Early C18th dress in the Western Isles

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Mark P.
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Early C18th dress in the Western Isles

Postby Mark P. » Sun Oct 29, 2006 9:04 am

This link is taken directly from the US 'Highlanders and Hanoverians' forum so thanks should go to the original poster.

http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata ... 72_182.pdf

It describes the early C18th dress of a bog body found in the Western Isles, including patterns of the recovered clothing.
What interests me about it is how the appearnce appears to be so different from our perception of ordinary highlanders. It seems the only piece of tartan material in the outfit was the pocket linings. If you saw a re-enactor dressed in this kit would you know what period he was supposed to be re-enacting, I think I would have struggled before reading this article.

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Postby Jenn » Sun Oct 29, 2006 5:27 pm

Er can't see a link?



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Postby Mark P. » Sun Oct 29, 2006 5:40 pm

Tod had the same problem when viewing on the original site, needless to say it looks fine to me.

Try this I've added a space after http: so that it displays as plain text. The space will need taking out when the address is pasted into the browser address bar.

http: //ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata/PSAS_2002/pdf/vol_106/106_172_182.pdf

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Postby m300572 » Mon Oct 30, 2006 5:43 pm

Maybe he ended up in the bog because he was 'dressed funny'.

Or, as you say, perhaps our perceptions are a lot more inaccurate than we realise. You should however recognize the period of the reenactor wearing the kit (to within a few decades) because of the cut of his clothing although you might struggle to identify him as a denizen of the Western Isles.



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Postby Mark P. » Mon Oct 30, 2006 11:14 pm

You should however recognize the period of the reenactor wearing the kit (to within a few decades) because of the cut of his clothing although you might struggle to identify him as a denizen of the Western Isles.



Agreed you put this much better than I did.

Apart from the blue bonnet it doesn't seem typically what I would think of as archetypal highland kit. Perhaps we should have a few more plain jackets worn over long linen shirts rather than plaids?

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Postby m300572 » Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:08 pm

If you have a look in the bibliography of the article there is another report on 17th C bog body clothes - PSAS is all available on line (through the Arcaheological Data Service website). From memory the bonnet on that one was made up of bits of cloth, rather than knitted. And he wasn't wearing a plaid - maybe on the islands the cold winds were a deterrent to knee length skirt wearing - it gets a bit draughty above about force 5!.



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Postby jfdiow » Tue Oct 31, 2006 5:07 pm

The victim was murdered- is it not possible that he was also stripped of that bit of clothing which might be useful and not neccessarilly traceable- i.e. a large bit of good cloth commonly referred to as a plaid? especially as other bog bodies found have been wearing trews or breeches.

But it might be interesting to see a Jacobite dressed as in the quoted letters:

A further possibility is that
the marks on the under shirt were produced by linen drawers, and that no main nether garment
was worn. McClintock (1943, 161-2) quotes a letter of 1786 from John Pinkerton's Literary
Correspondence which gives an account of the gathering of Highlanders to join the Pretender in
1715: this mentions that some were dressed in nothing more than a long coat, having no shirt or
breeches. McClintock (1943, 150-1) also quotes a letter from the Edinburgh Magazine, March
1785, which describes Highland dress earlier in the century. It records that those who did not
wear a plaid, or who could not afford breeches, 'wore short coats, waistcoats, and shirts of as
great a length as they could afford; and such parts as were not covered by these remained naked
to the tying of garters on their hose'.

Best,

Judith


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Postby jfdiow » Tue Oct 31, 2006 5:08 pm

The victim was murdered- is it not possible that he was also stripped of that bit of clothing which might be useful and not neccessarilly traceable- i.e. a large bit of good cloth commonly referred to as a plaid? especially as other bog bodies found have been wearing trews or breeches.

But it might be interesting to see a Jacobite dressed as in the quoted letters:

A further possibility is that
the marks on the under shirt were produced by linen drawers, and that no main nether garment
was worn. McClintock (1943, 161-2) quotes a letter of 1786 from John Pinkerton's Literary
Correspondence which gives an account of the gathering of Highlanders to join the Pretender in
1715: this mentions that some were dressed in nothing more than a long coat, having no shirt or
breeches. McClintock (1943, 150-1) also quotes a letter from the Edinburgh Magazine, March
1785, which describes Highland dress earlier in the century. It records that those who did not
wear a plaid, or who could not afford breeches, 'wore short coats, waistcoats, and shirts of as
great a length as they could afford; and such parts as were not covered by these remained naked
to the tying of garters on their hose'.

Best,

Judith


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Postby Mark P. » Tue Oct 31, 2006 11:04 pm

Its perfectly possible that the victim had his plaid stolen, there are recorded instances of jacobites in the '15 robbing clothes from people to equip themselves.

Highlanders, many of whom were a long way from home and thus had less compunction about plundering comparative strangers, 'begun to mutinie, for 'Want of pay', and sometimes pillaged local communities in territory under their control. When this did occur their depredations could be quite severe. One witness in Fife claimed that Macgregors under the command of Rob Roy and Gregor Macgregor took 'the cloaths of the people's very backs, plaids from women and seting men down and taking their shoes off their feet, and their cravats from their necks', even raiding Arngask one Sunday, where they 'came in to the Kirk befor the half got out, and took their cloaths off, and their bibles from them'.


Still I don't think I've ever seen a plaid and long linen shirt combination worn in re-enactment, not that I enquire too closely into these matters.
Perhaps the layers would produce a tu-tu effect! :wink:

I see that the cover of Stuart Reids new book 'The Scottish Jacobite Army 1745-46' appears to show just such a figure wearing a short jacket over long shirt combination (based on this find?) so perhaps this look will become the new orthodoxy?

I've tried searching for other interesting reports on the Arcaheological Data Service website but found it quite 'clunky' and couldn't get any good results. I'll look again for the C17th one.

As for the cold winds in the highlands I believe it can get a bit nippy round the trossachs when wearing a plaid. :shock:

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Postby jfdiow » Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:17 pm

Is not the common 18th century man's shirt almost this long?
The report said shirt reaching almost to the knees with an undershirt almost as long

Is was my understanding that a common man's shirt (both sides of the border and elsewhere) was long enough to be tucked up if neccessary (to warm and protect) certainly a lot longer than modern shirts.

I am not used to seeing men in a state of undress (except for hatless, coatless wonders occassionally) so do not know if 18th century re-enactors commonly wear short or longer shirts anyway.

The long shirt, short jacket combination (with undershirt) could look interesting!

J


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Postby Tod » Thu Nov 02, 2006 2:41 pm

This is my thoughts on this. A plaid is a pain to wear around the house or if you are doing any sort of work inside. If this body was that of some one "at school" then I don't think they would be wearing a plaid all the time. If it is the person that the author thought it was then it is unlikely his plaid was stolen. When I'm up at the Highland Folk Museum I don't wear my plaid all the time. It's not unusual from me to wear my long shirt (which is from this bog body pattern) and just a jacket. I think Burt describes a Chief meeting him in such attire in his letters (1729/30 ish).
I know Appins wear a long shirt but with slashed sides not with triangular inserts.
I have a pattern for the shirt I wear and am working on the undershirt pattern.



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Postby Mark P. » Sat Nov 04, 2006 9:11 am

The rough undershirt certainly matches the general pattern for C18th re-enactment shirts with straight sides and straight sleeves all made out of rectangles of cloth but the over shirt is quite different.
The sleeves are in two pieces and curved, much more like the shape you see on a pattern for a sleeved waist coat. Also the over shirt is buttoned to the waist.
It certainly would make a suitable summer weight garment though.

Links to other finds (I've added a space after the http: part of the address for those who can't see the hyper-links):

Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 1951-52
Clothing and other articles from a late 17th century grave at Gunniter, Shetland.
http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata ... 30_042.pdf
http: //ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata/PSAS_2002/pdf/vol_086/86_030_042.pdf

Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 1968-69
Clothing found at Hunstgarth, Harray, Orkney (inc green bonnet mp)
http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata ... 50_159.pdf
http: //ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata/PSAS_2002/pdf/vol_101/101_150_159.pdf

Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 1972-74
A note on highland dress after the '45
http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata ... 16_318.pdf
http: //ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata/PSAS_2002/pdf/vol_105/105_316_318.pdf


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Postby kass » Sun Nov 26, 2006 11:43 pm

Hello all.

My name is Kass and I'm new to this forum. But I just studied the Gunnister find as well as the ones from Lewis and Orkney, among others, and I thought I'd throw my thoughts into the ring here.

First of all, just because the author of the article is calling the undermost layer a "shirt" doesn't mean it would be a shirt to us. Neither was it necessarily the man's undermost garment. Bogs are acidic and an acidic environment rots linen away at the same time preserving wool. Many bog finds are only known to have been sewn with linen thread because the holes remain but none of the stitches do. So linen "goes away" rather thoroughly. So I think it dangerous to presume he wore nothing under this "shirt".

That being said, our modern idea that wool is scratchy or that your undermost layer has to be linen is a bit of a reenactorism. The Gunnister man in particular died of exposure. His wearing a wool undershirt would have made perfect sense.

As to the absense of a plaid, there is no plaid in any of these finds. Were they all stolen? I doubt it. Do we even know for certain that the man was Scottish? We know nothing at all about him. So we shouldn't presume some part of his clothing is nefariously absent just because we expect it to be there.



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Postby Mark P. » Mon Nov 27, 2006 11:15 pm

Welcome Kass, I hope you find something of interest.

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Postby Alan_F » Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:08 am

Hi Kass, long time no see!


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Postby kass » Tue Nov 28, 2006 3:33 am

Hey guys! Thanks for the warm welcome.



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Postby Mark P. » Wed Nov 29, 2006 8:44 pm

Getting back to rotting linen I hadn't realised that the two 'shirts' were made from woolen cloth. I tend to just skim these things then look at the pictures! The technical stuff about thread counts doesn't really mean anything to me. Any ideas about the actual weight of cloth that was used for these garments?

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