Scottish arms of this type are known, but that Scottish
craftmanship could be of the highest standard is shown by
a superb hanger of about 1685, which has survived in almost
pristine condition. The hanger was in origin a hunting sword,
but was found useful as a side weapon for less formal occasions
and, in the days before regulation weapons were introduced,
was very popular with naval officers. The single-edged blade
is slightly curved and is stamped with the letter B and
a scimitar, probably the marks of Wilhelm Bugel, of Solingen.
Also on the blade, as well as on the underside of the guard,
are the initials DB within a heart and the word KILMARES.
These must refer to David Biggart of Kilmaurs, who evidently
mounted a blade obtained from Germany. Kilmaurs is known
to have been a centre for the manufacture of cutlery, and
it appears that David Biggart may have been a cutler who
turned his talents to hilt making and sword mounting. Those
talents were considerable, for the grip is of especially
impressive work, of tortoiseshell inlaid with floral patterns
in fine twisted silver wire. As yet, this is the only such
Scottish hanger known.
Scottish is the basket-hilted sword, such as was used by
the Highlanders in the risings of 17 15 and 1745, and has
survived as the 'claymore' in Highland regiments to this
day. The sword has a fine German double-edged blade, signed
by Hermann Keisser, with the date 1570. It also bears the
arms of Montrose. Indeed the sword is traditionally associated
with the Marquis of Montrose who fought so hard for Charles
I, only to be taken and, in 1650, executed. The hilt, however,
is stylistically nearer to 1700 than 1650 in date. It bears
upon the knuckle bow the initials IS, which have been identified
as those of the armourer John Simpson, who was admitted
to the Incorporation of Hammermen of Glasgow in 1683, was
appointed King's Armourer in Scotland in 17 15, but died
about two years later. The shape of the hilt, a combination
of plates and bars protecting the entire hand, together
with the grooved and pierced decoration of the various parts,
may well have been standardised by John Simpson. Certainly
hilts in this style continued to be made by Glasgow hammermen
throughout the 18th century.
Below is a 21st Century replica of a late 17th Century
Scots' Basket ,
from Armour Class in Scotland.
Article taken from 'European Arms & Armour- at Kelvingrove'
by J G Scott, for more information visit Kelvingrove Museum
and Art Gallery, Glasgow, Scotland.