Tour Scotland
Home Page


Best Scottish Books

Scottish Clothing

Highlanders wearing "Dyed shirts" and a "light wrap of wool of different colours." - Jean de Beaugue', 1540's.

"Several wild Scots followed them (the Scottish Army) and they were naked except for stained shirts, and a certain light covering made of various colours".-Monsieur Jean de Beayque, 1549.

"Their clothing was made for use (being chiefly suited for war) and not for ornament. All, both nobles and common people, wore mantles of one sort (excert that the nobles preferred those of several colours). These were long and flowing, but capable of being neatly gathered up at pleasure into folds. I am inclined to believe that they were the same as this to which the ancients gave the name of brachae. Wrapped up in these for their only covering, they would sleep comfortably. They had also shaggy rugs, such as the Irish use at the present day, some fitted for a journey, others to be placed on a bed. The rest of their garments consisted of a short wollen jacket, with sleeves open below for the convenience of throwing darts, and a covering for the thighs of the simplest kind, more for decency than for show, or defence against cold.They also made of linen very full tunics with many folds and wide sleeves, flowing loose to their knees. The wealthy dyed these with saffron, and others oiled them, to keep them longer clean among the exertion and exercise of a camp... In making these, grace and ornament were not lacking, and the different pieces were seemed together with silk, commonly green, or red."-Bishop Lesley, 1578.

"The Scots today do not differ in manners and customs from the Irish, from whom they originated, as we have said above: for when the sky is clear one can see Ireland from Scotland. Further, their language, their customs and their dress are alike. . . They are dressed in such a manner and in such shirts dyed with saffron as the Irish and go with bare legs to the knee." -1575, Sebastian Munster, Cosmographia.

"The highlanders take pleasure in clothing of various colours, especially striped, and their favorite colours are purple and blue. Their forbears wore plaids of many colours, and numbers still in keeping with this custom, but most now prefer to wear a dark brown, matching the leaves of the heather, so that, while lying among it in the day-time, they may not be revealed by a sight of their clothing. In these, wrapped, rather than covered, they face the worst storms of the open, and at times will lie down and sleep, even in snow." -Nicholas d'Afreville, Cosmographer to the King of France, circa 1580's.

"Those who inhabit the North are more rude, homely and unruly, and for this reason are called "wild". They wear like the Irish a large and full shirt, coloured with saffron, and over this a garment hanging to the knee, of coarse wool, after the fashion of a cassock."-1583, Nicolay d'Arfeville.

"A speckled garment of many colours, hanging in folds to the calf, with a girdle round the loins over the garment." -O'Clery describing Islemen fighting the English in Ulster, 1590's.

The Wild Scots "Are clothed after the Irish fashion, in striped mantles, with their hair long and thick. -1607, Camden, in his Britannia.

Lady Montgomery, wife of Sir Hugh Montgomery, 'set up and encouraged linen and woollen manufactory (in Ulster), which soon brougt down the prices of the breakens (tartans) and narrow cloths of both sorts.' The beginning of such (manu-)factories might be part of the reason the kilt became more common during the 17th century. -1613.

It appears that the desire for uniformity in the colors of tartan used by a clan was beginning in the early 1600's:"remove the red and white lines from the plaides of his men so as to bring their dress into harmony with that of other septs". -1618, Letter from Sir Rbt. Gordon of Gordonstoun to Murray of Pulrossie.

"Many Highlanders were obvserved in this town (Leith), in their plaids, many without doublets, and those who have doublets have a kind of loose flap garment about their breech, their knees bare. The inure themselves to cold, hardship, and will not diswont themselves. Proper personable well-complected men, and of able men: the very gentlemen in their blue caps and plaids." - 1635, Sir William Brereton.

Tour Scotland
Tour Edinburgh
Tour Island Of Skye

Rent A Self Catering Hoilday Cottage In Scotland

Share This Tour Scotland Web Page

Top Destinations
Tour Europe