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The Highlanders of Scotland
Part I - Chapter IX


The Highland Dress – Three Varieties of Dress worn previous to the Seventeenth Century; and their Antiquity – Arms and Armour – Hunting – character of the Highlanders.

THE dress of the Highlanders is one in many respects peculiar to that nation, and is so singularly well adapted to their mode of life and the nature of their country, that it is difficult to believe that it is not the original dress of its inhabitants. Of late years, however, the antiquity of this dress and of the use of tartan in the Highlands has been much doubted, and an opinion has very generally prevailed that it is but of modern invention, or, at all events, that the truis is the only ancient form of the dress; although what motive or circumstance could have led to the adoption, at a recent period, of so singular a dress, the doubters of its antiquity do not pretend to specify.

      It would be too much, perhaps, to affirm that the dress, as at present worn, in all its minute details, is ancient, but it is very certain that it is compounded of three varieties in the form of the dress, which were separately worn by the Highlanders in the seventeenth century, and that each of these can be traced back to the most remote antiquity.

      The first form of the dress was that worn by the Dune Uasal, or gentry of the Highlands, and consisted of the Breacan or plaid, and the Lenicroich or Highland shirt. They are thus described by Martin: – “The plad, wore only by the men, is made of fine wool – the thred as fine as can be made of that kind – it consists of divers colours, and there is a great deal of ingenuity required in sorting the colours, so as to be agreeable to the nicest fancy. For this reason the women are at great pains, first to give an exact pattern of the plad upon a piece of wood, having the number of every thred of the stripe on it. The length of it is commonly seven doublle-ells.

      “When they travel on foot the plad is tied on the breast with a bodkin of bone or wood. The plad is tied round the middle with a leather belt; it is pleated from the belt to the knee very nicely. This dress for footmen is found much easier and lighter than breeches or trowis.

      “The first habit wore by persons of distinction in the Islands was the Lenicroich, from the Irish word Leni, which signifies a shirt, and Croich, saffron, because their shirt was died with that herb. The ordinary number of ells used to make this robe was twenty-four; it was the upper garb, reaching below the knees, and was tied with a belt round the middle, but the Highlanders have laid it aside about a hundred years ago.

      “The shoes anciently wore were a piece of the hide of a deer, cow, or horse, with the hair on, being tied behind and before with a point of leather. The generality now wear shoes, having one thin sole only, and shaped after the right and left foot, so that what is for one foot will not serve for the other.

      “But persons of distinction wear the garb in fashion in the south of Scotland.”

      By the writers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, they are termed the mantle and the shirt, and are described by them as being the only dress worn by the gentry; thus the Reverend James Broome, in his “Travels over England, Scotland, and Wales,” published at London in 1700, tells us, “they go habited in mantles, striped or streaked with divers colours, about their shoulders, which they call pladden, with a coat girt close to their bodies, and commonly are naked upon their legs, but wear sandals upon the soles of their feet; and their women go clad much after the same fashion.”

      In 1688, according to Sacheveril, “The usual outward habit of both sexes is the pladd; the women’s much finer, the colours more lively, and the square larger than the men’s; and put me in mind of the ancient Picts. This serves them for a veil, and covers both head and body. The men wear theirs after another manner, especially when designed for ornament; it is loose and flowing, like the mantles our painters give their heroes. Their thighs are bear, with brawny muscles. Nature has drawn all her strokes bold and masterly. What is covered is only adapted to necessity; a thin brogue on the foot, a short buskin of various colours on the leg, tied above the calf with a striped pair of garters.” According to Nicolay d’Arfeville, cosmographer to the King of France (who published at Paris, in the year 1538, a volume entitled “La Navigation du Roy d’Escosse Jaques cinquiesme du nom, autour de son Royaume et Isles Hebrides et Orchades soubz la conduite d’Alexandre Lindsay excellent Pilote Escossois”), Ils portent comme les Islandois une grande et ample chemise saffrance, et par dessus un habit long jusques aux genoux de grosse laine à mode d’une soutane. Ils vont teste nue et laisent croistre leurs cheveux fort long, et ne portent chausses ni souliers sinon quelques uns qui ont des botines faictes à l’antique qui leur montent jusques aux genoux.” [“They wear, like the Irish, a large and full shirt, coloured with saffron, and over this a garment, hanging to the knee, of thick wool, after the manner of a cassock. They go with bare heads, and allow their hair to grow very long, and they wear neither stockings nor shoes, except some who have buskins, made in a very old fashion, which come as high as their knees.”] Lesly gives a more minute description of this dress in 1578. He says: – “Vestes ad necessitatem (erant enim ad bellum in primis accommodatae) non ad ornatum faciebant: chlamydes enim gestabant unius formae et nobiles et plebeii (nisi quod nobiles variegatis sibi magis placebant) et illas quidem demissas ac fluxas, sed in sinus tamen quosdam, ubi volebant, decenter contractas. Has brachas a veteribus appellatas facilë equidem crediderim. His solis noctu involuti suaviter dormiebant: habebant etiam, cujusmodi Hibernenses et hodie sibi placent, villosas stragulas, alias ad iter, alias ad lectos accommodatas. Reliqua vero vestimenta erant brevis ex lana tunicella manicis inferius apertis, uti expeditius cum vellent jacula torquerent, ac foemoralia simplicissima, pudori quam frigori aut pompae aptiorae; ex lino quoque amplissima indusia conficiebant, multis sinibus, larbioribusque manicis ad genua usque negligentius fluentia. Haec potentiores croco, alii autem adipe quodem, quo ab omni sorde diutius manerent integra, illinebant: assuefacere enim se perfectius castrorum sudoribus consultissimum putebant.” [Their clothing was made for use (being chiefly suited to war), and not for ornament. All, both nobles and common people, wore mantles of one sort (except that the nobles preferred those of different colours). These were long and flowing, but capable of being neatly gathered up at pleasure into folds. I am included to believe that they were the same as those to which the ancients gave the name 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 the sleeves open below for the convenience of throwing their darts, and a covering for the thighs of the simplest kind, more for decency than for show or a defence against cold. They made also of linen very large shirts, with numerous folds and very large sleeves, which flowed abroad loosely on their knees. These the rich coloured with saffron, and others smeared with some grease, to preserve them longer clean among the toils and exercises of a camp, which they held it of the highest consequence to practise continually.”] Lindsay of Pittscottie gives the same account in 1573. “The other pairts (of Scotland) northerne ar full of montaines, and very rud and homlie kynd of people doeth inhabite, which is called Reedschankis or wyld Scottis. They be cloathed with ane mantle, with ane schirt, saffroned after the Irisch manner, going bair legged to the knee.” Monsieur Jean de Beaugne, who accompanied the French auxiliaries to Scotland in 1548, describes the same dress: “Quelques sauvages les suyvirent, ansi qu’ils sont nuz fors que de leurs chemises taintes et de certaines couvertures legeres faites de laine de plusieurs couleurs; portans de grands arcs et semblables epees et bouchiers que les autres.” [“Several Highlanders (or wild Scots) followed them *(the Scottish army), and they were naked, except their seamed shirts and a certain light covering made of wool of various colours; carrying large bows and similar swords and bucklers to the others,” i.e., to the Lowlanders.] In 1512, John Major adds his testimony to the general use of the same dress: “A medio crure ad pedem caligas non habent; chlamyde pro veste superiore et camiisa croco tincta amiciuntur......grossos pugiones sub zona positos ferunt frequenter nudis tibiis sub cruribus; in hyeme chlamydem pro veste superiore portant.” [“From the middle of the thigh to the foot they have no covering for the leg, clothing themselves with a mantle instead of an upper garment. They carry large daggers, placed under the belt; their legs are frequently naked under the thigh; in winter they carry a mantle for an upper garment.”] And finally, we have the authority of Blind Harry for the fifteenth century. He mentions that Wallace, who had been living in the Braes of Gowrie, having entered Dundee, was met by the son of the English constable of Dundee, and adds:

“Wallace he saw and towart him he went,
Likli he was richt byge and weyle beseyne,
In till a gyde of gudly ganand greyne,
He callyt on hum and said, Thou Scot abyde,
Quha dewil the grathis in so gay a gyde (attire),
Ane Ersche mantill it war the kynd to wer;
A Scottis thewtill (large knife) wndyr the belt to ber,
Rouch rewlyngis upon thi harlot fete.”

      There is thus a complete chain of authorities for the dress of the Highlanders, from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, having consisted of the Highland shirt stained with saffron, the Breacan or belted plaid, the short Highland coat, and the Cuaran or buskins, and that their limbs, from the thigh to the ancle, were certainly uncovered.

      Previous to the fourteenth century, we cannot expect to find descriptions of the dress, but the existence of the same dress among the Highlanders can be established by another mode of proof. On the various tomb-stones of the ancient Highland chiefs still extant in some of the ruined chapels of the western Highlands, are to be seen effigies of these personages, represented clad in armour, and almost invariably in the Highland dress. The dates of these monuments are various; but the most complete evidence perhaps of the existence of this garb in the fourteenth century, is to be found in the sculptures of Macmillan’s Cross. This ancient structure has been preserved in an uninjured state, and is still standing in the village of Kilmory in Knapdale: although there does not appear any date upon the stone, yet from the form of the letters in which there is this inscription, “Crux Alexandri Macmillan,” there can be no doubt that it is at least as old as that period. On one side is the representation of an Highland chief engaged in hunting the deer, and the dress of the figure appears quite distinctly to be after the Highland fashion.  But from the Duplin Cross, the date of which can, from various circumstances, be fixed to have been towards the end of the ninth century, there are a number of figures represented in the Highland garb, armed with the target and long spear. Another very remarkable figure is found on the sculptured stone at Nigg, apparently of a still older date, in which the resemblance to the Highland dress is very striking, presenting also considerable indication f the sporran or purse. But is would be needless to detail all the sculptured monuments which bear evidence of the existence of the Highland garb; suffice it to say, that they afford complete proof of it having been the ordinary dress of a considerable part of the northern population from the earliest period of their history.

      There is thus distinct evidence for the remote antiquity of this dress; but a very remarkable attestation to its use in the eleventh century still remains to be adduced.

      Magnus Barefoot, it is well known, conquered the Western Isles, and a great part of the Highlands, in the year 1093. Various of the oldest Sagas, in mentioning that expedition, add the following sentence – “It is said, when king Magnus returned from his expedition to the west, that he adopted the costume in use in the western lands, and likewise many of his followers; that they went about bare-legged, having short tunics and also upper garments; and so, many men called him Barelegged, or Barefoot.” The tunic and the upper garments are clearly the shirt and mantle of the Scottish writers. This dress, which was worn, as we have seen, from the earliest period, appears to have been peculiar to the gentry of the Highlands; – thus in a MS. history of the Gordons, by W.R., preserved in the Advocates’ Library (Jac. V. 7, 11), the following anecdote is given, as occurring about the year 1591 or 1592: “Angus, the son of Lauchlan Mackintosh, chiefe of the clan Chattan, with a great party, attempts to surprise the castle of Ruthven in Badenoch, belonging to Huntly, in which there was but small garrison; but finding this attempt could neither by force nor fraude have succeesse, he retires a little to consult how to compass his intent. In the meanetime one creeps out under the shelter of some old ruins, and levels with his piece at one of the clan Chattan, cloathed in a yellow warr coat (which amongst them is the badge of the chieftanes or heads of clans), and piercing his body with a bullet, strikes him to the ground, and retires with gladness into the castle. The man killed was Angus himself, whom his people carry away, and conceills his death for many yeirs, pretending he was gone beyond seas.” Martin likewise says, that it was worn by persons of distinction; and other writers contrast it with the dress of the common people.

      The dress of the common people was the second variety in the form of the Highland dress.

      John Major points out the distinction most clearly. After describing the dress of the gentry as given above, he adds, “In panno lineo multipliiter intersuto et cocreato aut picato, cum cervinae pellis coopertura vulgus sylvestrium Scotorum corpus tectum habens in praelium prosilit.” [“The common people of the Highland Scots rush into battle having their body clothed with a linen garment, manifoldly sewed, and painted or daubed with pitch, with a covering of deer-skin.”] It appears, therefore, to have consisted of the shirt, painted instead of being stained with saffron, and sewed in the manner of the modern kilt, while above it they wore a deerskin jacket; they likewise wore the plaid, which the gentry belted about the body, over the shoulders, like the modern shoulder plaid. Taylor, the water poet, describes this dress very minutely in 1618 – “And in former times were those people which were called Red-shanks. Their habite is shooes with but one sole a-piece; stockings (which they call short hose) made of a warme stuff of divers colours, which they call tartane. As for breeches, many of them, nor their forefathers, never wore any, but a jerkin of the same stuffe that their hose is of, their garters being bands or wreaths of hay or straw, with a plaid about their shoulders, which is a mantle of divers colours, much finer or lighter stuffe than their hose, with blue flat caps on their heads, a handkerchiefe knit with two knots about their necke, and thus are they attyred.” There is, however, as old an attestation for the use of this dress as for the other; for while the Sagas describe the king of Norway and his courtiers wearing the dress of the Highland gentry in the eleventh century, they describe some of his meaner followers attired in that of the common people of the Highlands. “Sigurd had on,” say they, “a red skarlet tunic, and had a blue vest above it;” here the tunic and vest answer exactly to the shirt and jacket of the common people. Sigurd is described by the Saga as having been much derided by the Norwegians for his extraordinary dress. He is accused of displaying his nakedness, and termed “a sleeveless man, and without backskirts.” The third variety in the form of the dress worn by the Highlanders was that of the Truis, but this dress can be traced no further back than the year 1538. Martin thus describes it in 1716. “Many of the people wear trowis; some have them very fine woven, like stocking of those made of cloth; some are coloured, and others striped; the latter are as well shaped as the former, lying close to the body from the middle downwards, and tied round with a belt above the haunches. There is a square piece of cloth which hangs down before. The measure for shaping the trowis is a stick of wood, whose length is a cubit, and that divided into the length of a finger, and half a finger, so that it requires more skill to make it than the ordinary habit......The one end (of the plaid) hangs by the middle over the left arm, the other going round the body, hangs by the end over the left arm also; the right hand above it is to be at liberty to do any thing upon occasion.” And in 1678 it is thus mentioned by Cleland, who wrote a satirical poem upon the expedition of the Highland host.

“But those who were their chief commanders,
As such who bore the pirnie standarts,
Who led the van and drove the rear,
Were right well mounted of their gear;
With brogues, trues, and pirnie plaides,
With good blue bonnets on their heads.

“A Slasht out coat beneath her plaides,
A targe of timber, nails, and hides.”

      Defoe, in his Memoirs of a Cavalier, mentions it as worn in 1639 – “Their dress was as antique as the rest; a cap on their heads, called by them a bonnet, long hanging sleeves behind, and their doublet, breeches, and stockings of a stuff they called plaid, striped across red and yellow, with short coats of the same.” The earliest notice, however, is contained in the treasurer’s accounts for 1538, and consists of the dress worn by James V. when hunting in the Highlands.

      “Item, in the first for ij elnis ane quarter elne of variant cullorit velvet to be the kingis grace ane schort Heland coit, price of the elne vj lib.: summa, xiij lib. x8.

      “Item, for iij elnis quarter elne of grene taffatyis, to lyne the said coit with price of the elne x8.: summa, xxxij8. vjd.

      “Item, for iij elnis of Heland tertane to be hoiss to the kingis grace, price of the elne iiim8. iiijd.: summa, xiij8.

      “Item, for XV elnis of Holland claith to be syde Heland sarkis to the kingis grace, price of the elne viij8.: summa, vj lib.

      “Item, for sewing and making of the said sarks, ix8.

      “Item, for twa unce of silk to sew thame, x8.

      “Item, for iiij elnis of ribanis to the handles of them, ij8.”

      The hoiss here mentioned are plainly the truis, the stockings being termed short hoiss; and from these accounts it appears that this dress consisted of the Highland shirt, the truis made of tartan, the short Highland coat made of tartan velvet, with the sleeves “slasht out;” and finally, the plaid thrown over the shoulders. The truis cannot be traced in the Highlands previous to the sixteenth century, but there is undoubted evidence that it was, from the very earliest period, the dress of the gentry of Ireland I am inclined therefore to think that it was introduced from Ireland, and that the proper and peculiar dress of the Highlanders consisted of the first two varieties above described. The use of tartan in the Highlands at an early period has been denied, but the passages above quoted show clearly, that what is now called tartan, was used from an early period in various parts of the dress. Among the gentry, the plaid was always of tartan, and the coat appears to have been from 1538 of tartan velvet, and slashed; the short hoiss were likewise of tartan, but the Highland shirt was of linen, and dyed with saffron, Among the common people the plaid was certainly not of tartan, but generally brown in colour, [“Chlamydes enim gestabant unius formae omnes et nobiles et plebeii (nisi quod nobiles variegatis sibi magis placebant).” – John Major. Moniepennie says, “But for the most part they (the plaids) are now browne, most nere to the colour of the hadder.”] while the shirt worn by them was of tartan. The present dress with the belted plaid is exactly the same as the old dress of the gentry, with th exception of the yellow shirt. The dress with the kilt and shoulder-plaid, is probably a corruption of the dress of the common people. Among the common people the shirt was of tartan, and sewed in plaits, and they wore a jacket, and the plaid over the shoulder; this shirt was probably termed filleadh, and if divided in the middle would form exactly the present dress with the shoulder plaid; the lower part of the shirt would be the filleadh-beg or kilt, the upper part the waistcoat, and the jacket and shoulder-plaid would remain. It has likewise been doubted whether the distinction of clan tartans was known at that period; but Martin seems to set that question at rest, for in his valuable account of the Western Isles he says, “Every isle differs from each other in their fancy of making plaids, as to the stripes, or breadth, or colours. This humour is as different through the mainland of the Highlands, in so far that they who have seen those places, are able, at the first view of a man’s plaid, to guess the place of his residence.”

Among the common people, the jacket was of deer-skin. But the cuaran or buskin, and afterwards the hose, were common to both.

      The dress of the Highland women is thus described by Lesley in 1578 – “Mulierum autem habitus apud illos decentissimus erat. Nam talari tunicae arte Phrygiâ ut plurimum confectae amplas chlamydes, quas jam diximus, atque illas quidem polymitas superinduerunt. Illarum brachia armillis, ac colla monilinbus elegantius ornata maximam habent decoris speciem.” [“Their women’s attire was very becoming Over a gown reaching to the ancles, and generally embroidered, they wore large mantles of the kind already described, and woven of different colours. Their chief ornaments were the bracelets and necklaces with which they decorated their arms and necks.”] And by Martin in 1716 – “The ancient dress wore by the women, and which is yet wore by some of the vulgar, called Arisad, is a while plad, having a few small stripes of black, blue, and red. It reached from the neck to the heels, and was tied before on the breast with a buckle of silver or brass, according to the quality of the person. I have seen some of the former of a hundred marks value; it was broad as an ordinary pewter plate, the whole curiously engraven with various animals, & c. There was a lesser buckle, which was wore in the middle of the larger, and above two ounces’ weight; it had in the centre a large piece of chrystal, or some finer stone, and this was set all round with several finer stones of a lesser size.

      “The plad being pleated all round, was tied with a belt below the breast; the belt was of leather, and several pieces of silver intermixed with the leather like a chain. The lower end of the belt has a piece of plate, about eight inches long and three in breadth, curiously engraven, the end of which was adorned with fine stones, or pieces of red coral. They wore sleeves of scarlet cloth, closed at the end as men’s vests, with gold lace round them, having plate buttons set with fine stones. The head dress was a fine kerchief of linen strait about the head, hanging down the back taperwise. A large lock of hair hangs down their cheeks above their breast, the lower end tied with a know of ribbands.”

      Besides the antiquity of the Highland dress, the use of armour among the Highlanders has been also much doubted by modern antiquaries, but there are perhaps few points for which there is clearer attestation during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; and the few notices of Highland customs at that period attest the use of the helmet, and the shirt of mail. Their weapons appear to have been the large sword, the battle-axe, the spear, the bow and arrow, and the dirk. In illustration of this, we shall throw together a few passages from the writers of that period.

      In 1512. – “Arcum et sagittas, latissimum ensem, cum parvo halberto, pugionem grossum ex solo uno latere scindentem et acutissimum sub zona semper ferunt. Tempore belli loricam ex loris ferreis per totum corpus induunt et in illa pugnant.” [John Major. – “They always carry a bow and arrows, a very broad sword with a small halbert, a large dagger, sharpened on one side only, but very sharp, under the belt. In time of war they cover their whole body with a shirt of mail of iron rings, and fight in that.”

      In 1573. – “Thair weapones ar bowes and dartes, with ane verie broad sword, and ane dagger sharp onlie at the one syde.” [Lindsay of Pittscottie.]

      In 1578. – “In proeliis vero hostilique concursu vel lancea vel sagitta adversarium petebant. Gladio quoque utebantur ancipiti, pedites oblongo, equites brevi, utrique lato, ac acie longè accutissimo ut primo conatu homienem facile dissecaret medium. Lorica hamis ferreis conserta muniebantur. Hanc tunicae corriaceae non minus firmae quam eleganti (nostri Acton dicunt) superinduerunt. Omnes denique armatura illis leves, ut facilius si eo angustiarum detruderentur, ex hostium manibus possent elabi.” [Lesly. – “In battle and hostile encounter their weapons were a lance or arrows. They use also a two-edged sword, which with the foot soldier was pretty long, and short for the horse; both had it broad, and with an edge so exceedingly sharp that at one blow it could easily cut a man in two; for defence they use a coat of mail woven of iron rings, which they wore over a leather jerkin, stout and of handsome appearance, which we call an Acton, Their whole armour was light, that they might the more easily slip from their enemies’ hands, if they chanced to fall into such a straight.”]

      In 1583. – “Leurs armes sont l’arc et la flesche et quelques javellotz qu’ils tirent fort dextrement, et une large espée,d avec le poignard pointu, qui ne taille que d’un costé. Ils sont fort legers à dla course, et n’y a cheval si viste qui les puisse devancer, comme j’en ay veu la preuve plusieurs fois, tant en Angleterri qu’en Escosse.” [Nicolay d’Arfeville. – “Their arms are the bow and arrow, and some darts, which they throw with some dexterity, and a large sword, with a single-edged dagger. They are very swift of foot, and there is no horse so swift as to outstrip them, as I have seen proved several times both in England and Scotland.”]

      Martin, in his Western Isles, says, “The ancient way of fighting was by set battles, and for armes some had broad two-handed swords, and head-pieces, and others bows and arrows.”

      The author of “Certain curious matters concerning Scotland” in 1597 says, “They fight with broad swords and axes.” – Moneypennie, who wrote in 1612, remarks – “Their armour wherewith they cover their bodyes in time of warre, is an yron bonnet, and an habbergion, side almost even to their heeles. Their weapons against their enemies are bowes and arrows. The arrows are for the most part hooked, with a barbel on either side, which, once entered within the body, cannot be drawn forth again, unless the wound be made wider. Some of them fight with broad swords and axes.”

      Beague, in describing the battle of Pinkie, says, “The Highlanders, who show their courage on all occasions, gave proof of their conduct at this time, for they kept together in one body, and made a very handsome and orderly retreat. They are armed with broadswords, large bows, and targets.” – And finally, an Act of Council dated 13 December, 1552, ordering a levy of two ensigncies of Highland soldiers within the bounds of Huntly’s lieutenancy, to go to France with other Scottish troops for the support of his most Christian Majesty in his wars, directs the Highlanders to be accoutred as follows, viz., “with jack and plait, steil bonnet, sword, boucklair, new hose, and new doublett of canvass at the least, and sleeves of plait or splents, and ane speir of sax elne lang or thereby.”

      These passages, to which many others might be added, are sufficient to show that the Highlanders were not the naked and defenceless soldiers at that time as is generally supposed, but that they were well acquainted with the use of defensive armour, and that the steel head-piece, the habergeon, or the shirt of mail, was in general use among them.

      When not engaged in regular warfare, or in some of the almost constant predatory excursions of the time, the chief occupation of the ancient Highlanders was that of hunting. In the words of Holinshed, “whensoever they had entered into league and amitie with their enemies, they would not live in such security that thereby they would suffer their bodies and forces to degenerate, but they did keep themselves in their former activitie and nimbleness of lives, either with continual huntinge (a game greatly esteemed among our ancestors) or with running from the hills unto the valleys, or from the valleys unto the hills, or with wrestling, and such kind of pastymes, whereby they were never idle.” As the Highlanders considered that, next to war, hunting was the most manly exercise and occupation, their great hunting expeditions seem to have been held with splendid though rude magnificence, and they were not unfrequently made the cover of deeper designs. Taylor, the water poet, gives so very lively and picturesque a description of the Highland hunting scene he witnessed, that although it has already been made the subject of frequent quotation, it is so very much to the present purpose that I cannot refrain from inserting a portion here. “The manner of the hunting is this – five or six hundred men do rise early in the morning, and they do disperse themselves divers ways, and seven, eight, or ten miles’ compass, they do bring or chase in the deer in many herds (two, three, or four hundred in a herd) to such or such a place as the nobleman shall appoint them; then when day is come, the lords and gentlemen of their companies do ride or go to the said places, sometimes wading up to the middle through burns and rivers, and then they being come to the place, do lie down on the ground, till those foresaid scouts, which are called the Tinchell, do bring down the deer; but as the proverb says of a bad cook, so these unkell men do lick their own fingers; for besides their bows and arrows which they carry with them, we can hear now and then a harquebuss or a musket go off, which they do seldom discharge in vain. Then after we had laid there three hours or thereabouts, we might perceive the deer appear on the hills round about us (their heads making a show like a wood), which, being followed close by the tinchell, are chased down into the valley where we lay; then all the valley on each side being waylaid with an hundred couple of greyhounds, they are all let loose as occasion serves upon the herd of deer, that with dogs, guns, arrows, dirks, and daggers, in the space of two hours four score fat deer were slain, which after are disposed of some one way and some another, twenty and thirty miles, and more than enough left for us to make merry withall at our rendezvous.”

      I may conclude this rapid survey of the manners and customs of the Highlanders by contrasting a character of the Highlanders in the fourteenth century with one of the present day, both of them written by persons far from favourable to the Highlands or its inhabitants. “Insulana sive montana ferina gens est et indomita, rudis et emmorigerate, raptu capax, otium diligens, ingenio docilis et callida, forma spectabilis, sed amictu deformis; populo quidem Anglorum et linguae, sed et proprie nationi, propter linguarum diversitatem infesta et crudelis; regi tamen et regno fidelis et obediens, nec non faciliter legibus subdita si regatur.” [Fordun.] “The modern Gael,” says a modern writer who cannot certainly be accused of partiality to the Highlanders, “is naturally an indolent and unindustrious being; yet when there is occasion for activity and exertion, he is not often to be paralleled. He is modest and unassuming. His courtesy and good breeding are unstudied and becoming, and no feeling of inferiority betrays him into abstraction or awkwardness of manner; shrewd, inquisitive, and intelligent, he has his faculties collected and at his command. He is sensible of kindness and deeply susceptible of gratitude, but withall he is superstitious, haughty, passionate, and vindictive.” [Armstrong.]


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