Saturday, September 12, 2009

Scots in Yellow?


Since I am all about tartans this week at the manor, this little bit
of tartan trivia caught my eye. Sorry, Mel. As much as I loved the
hunky kilt clad clansmen in the movie, (the mullet did drive me a
little nuts, though) it seems the medieval Bravehearts of Sturling
Bridge and Bannockburn did not actually wear tartan kilts in battle,
like the one pictured below, designed especially for the film.


Historian Fergus Cannan in his new book, Scottish Arms and Armor,
claims the clansmen actually wore bright yellow linen tunics into
battle. Apparently, the tunics were dyed with horse urine (sorry if
you're trying to enjoy your morning Cheerios) to achieve the rich color.
I'm sure this lovely aroma also helped to repel the English, who as we
know from Monty Python, smelled like elderberries.

32 comments:

  1. you'd think that the bright yellow would have made them more visible in battle and then easier to locate, etc. but i guess the smell still kept the british at bay. hee hee

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  2. horse urine always brings a shine to my clothes as well...maybe thats what happened to so many of my clothes during the potty training years...have a great weekend willow!

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  3. I think the one thing emerging as the absolute best thing about blogging, is the education factor. I love learning new things. I'm always learning over here which is why I creep around!

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  4. Horse urine and Cheerios in one breath,
    now that is Guinness stuff! *giggles*

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  5. Heh, heh! The Times of London listed Braveheart as the second most historically innacurate film of modern times. There's a very interesting section on the innacuracies in the Wiki article on the film.

    I may be biased, though; I'm a big un-fan of Mel Gibson.

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  6. Un-fan, heh-heh, I like that!

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  7. Interesting ..another un-fan of Mel's here

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  8. Thanks for including the interesting article in wiki, Roy. Apparently, the movie was based on Blind Harry's poem on the life of William Wallce, than any historical source. The key question here is whether or not Harry's poem was fictional.

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  9. How very strange... and the description didn't interfere with my morning coffee.

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  10. I love the history of tartans! My clan's tartan is relatively new, but it's very pretty, one of the prettiest I've seen.

    http://www.leopardmag.co.uk/feats/205/clans-of-the-north-east-irvine-of-drum

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  11. Good thing I don't eat Cheerios-LOL! And leave it to you to get to the truth of the matter, yes? Wonderful( the post not the urine...ha! )

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  12. While reading the first half, I was thinking "Thank goodness they were smart enough to not wear kilts into battle." Then I read the next half...Yellow? Oh well... MEN!

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  13. Who knew?!? Another piece of interesting info added to the minutia in my mind! LOL I'll never look at yellow the same way again! LOL

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  14. I wonder if they used the horse urine as a dye fixative rather than the dye itself. In Harris there used to be certain woman whose urine fixed the natural dyes used in the Tweed better than others. It is all done with chemicals now though......

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  15. Linen? Into battle? Gracious, just imagine the wrinkles!

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  16. Well, I didn't loose my Cheerios, but I choked on a gulp of coffee! tee-hee! See, you learn something new every day here!

    Totally agree on the mullet!

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  17. Oh how exciting to hear all the details. Horse urine must have scared anyone.

    Willow, I noticed you made your own bread for the ham/pastrami sandwich. I'm impressed.

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  18. I've always though Mel Gibson was a piss poor actor. Now I know why.

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  19. Neither did they paint their faces in the form of the Cross of Saint Andrew.

    As usual with Mel Gibson...he is never quite what he appears to be!!

    Count me in as an un-fan too.

    Excellent blog on tartans Willow.

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  20. Thanks, Lakeviewer. I bought a bread machine a few years ago and absolutely love it. (I know...I really should have let you keep on imagining me, here at the manor, with flour up to my elbows, kneeding away!)

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  21. Most fascinating details, Willow! I've been catching up on so many blog posts - what a wealth of information there is here, amazing as ever!

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  22. Most fascinating details, Willow! I've been catching up on so many blog posts - what a wealth of information there is here, amazing as ever!

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  23. On the serious side, I'm wondering if anybody has specifically researched uses for horse (and other animal) urine?

    I once talked with a elderly man in the Czech Republic whose family history was in the glass button business. He said glass makers there kept their formulas secret and that when a certain donkey or horse died, they could no longer make a specific color of glass... because the formula called for adding urine from that animal.

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  24. OMG you are hilarious! The mullet really left me cold as well. Ha!

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  25. I wonder which film was the MOST inaccurate if this one was second.

    I agree with julie king; they should have used horse dung instead.

    This post made me laugh. Always a good thing!

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  26. I imagine the bright yellow allowed them to identify their compadres in the heat of battle.

    Abbott is supposed to be a division of the McNab clan.

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  27. too funny--- it is amazing what people used to dye their cloths with back then-- and even now.

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  28. Oh, I never heard that before. Hilarious. I'm cringing thinking about how potent that must've been.

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  29. *LOL* My dad will be so disappointed....

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  30. LOL! I'm thinking that it was quite the aromatic time, back then.

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  31. Ha. Love that ending. Hee.

    horse pee? Well, you know, willow, when you think of it, was that really any worse thatn B. O. ? No regular showers then and no washing machine.s I'm sure they smelled disgusting to the max. no wonder why they were all so bravehearted. You had to be d jsut step out in the the muck adn mire of daily living. LOL.

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)