ScotWars - Scottish Military History and Re-enactment
Early Textiles Found in Scotland: 17th Century
From the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, 1951-52 and 1921
[comments in square brackets are not in the original text but have been added for clarification]

HENSHALL, AS (1951-52) EARLY TEXTILES FOUND IN SCOTLAND Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot Vol LXXXVI pp1 - 29 (extract)
25. Fisherrow, Musselburgh, Midlothian. P.S.A.S., LXXXV (1950-1), 177. On five coins from a hoard, the latest of which was dated 1646, were slight traces of cloth.
a. On three coins. Weave, 2/2 twill, about 22 per inch, apparently wool.
b. On two coins. Weave, plain. Both yarns Z, c. 40 x 48. Linen. Fine and regular.

26. Dava Moor, Cromdale, Morayshire. (NA 477, 478.) P.S.A.S., LXIII (1928-9), 22. [The village of Dava is at the junction of the A939 from Nairn and the A940 from Forres, north of Grantown on Spey.] The relics were found, in July 1927, on a skeleton in the moss with a birch stick laid across the body. Professor T. H. Bryce examined the skeleton and reported in a letter of August 5th, 1927, that it represented a short, poorly developed person somewhat over 20 years old. The long bones were very short and fragile, the length of the thigh bone indicating a height of under 4 ft. 10 ins. The sex is doubtful. There was some dark hair still adhering to the bones.
The cap is the most intact item. In general shape it is similar to those from Barrock and Tarvie, having a brim of double fabric and a flat crown. In the knitted cap from Dava the crown barely overlaps the edge of the brim, which has two pieces of cloth knotted through it. The fabric, the general shape and the side strings are comparable to the caps of the 16th century in the London Museum, though similar caps would probably last longer in the north. The cap from Barrock, which belongs to the end of the 17th century, is of cloth. The crown is not much larger than that from Dava but the brim is hardly more than a roll of cloth: the knitted cap from Tarvie has an exaggerated crown protruding well beyond the brim, though not so enlarged as that of the "Kilmarnock" bonnet of the late 18th and earl 19th centuries. The clothes are ragged in the extreme, patched and repatched and now quite formless, [although now considered to be trews after the style of those found at Dungiven] though the wool is in good condition. In all there are pieces of at least 29 different cloths, and a piece of knitting as well as the cap; an analysis of the more important pieces follows.
The commonest weave is twill; there are 15 examples of 2/1, 2 of which are check, and 7 examples of 2/2, 3 of which are check. Of the 5 pieces of herring-bone, 2 are check; and in 1 piece the heddling order is reversed, which makes a row of diamonds in the woven pattern. There is only 1 small piece of plain weave. A very heavy rep cloth does not have the appearance of having been woven for clothing at all (PI. IV, 4).

26,c  26, d  26, j
The greatest interest of the remains is the diverse use of colour, though it seems to be confined to shades of brown, green and red, brown being the background or only colour, red and green being used sparingly in narrow stripes except for one piece with a green warp. There are 7 pieces bearing cheek patterns; these can be divided into three groups. There are 3 examples of line checks (26 b, c and g). 26 b has a green line on brown with a repeat of 1½ - 1 7/8 ins. sq. Small solid checks, in the case of 26 a, consist of 6 light and 6 dark threads, while another example has 8 threads per stripe. Of the large checks there are no pieces big enough to show if they had any formal repeat, but 26 d and e show a complex arrangement, and 26 a and f may belong to this class.
There are also some coloured stripes. One of the 21/1 twins has two heavy warp stripes 2/5 in. wide divided by a stripe of the ground colour. Another 2/1 twill has an irregular warp stripe, single dark threads are divided by 2-9 threads of the ground colour. Again there may be single threads of red and green in groups on a brown cloth. 26 h has a group in the warp, and another 2 /2 twill has a group in both the warp and the weft consisting of R B B G B B R, and although there is a considerable area of cloth remaining there is no repeat, nor does the colour occur at the edges. These colour stripes are similar to those on 28 g in the Birsay find. The colour pattern in the rep cloth 26 j consists of weft stripes in four colours. In the twills there are three instances with the warp and weft of different shades, and in the single colour pieces there is a variation from ginger to black in individual cloths.
There is only one certain example of a patterned edge, where there are narrow herring-bone stripes and a dark- coloured stripe against the selvedge. Selvedges occur on 4 cloths, and are made of: double threads in the 2 outside places, double threads in the 4 outside places, thick 2-ply threads in the 2 outside places, no special arrangement. There are no signs of beginning or finishing edges. In only five instances is it certain which threads are the warp, but in each case they are set closer than the weft. In 26 i it shows the pattern is a true herring-bone and not a wave.
The weaving mistakes are all unremarkable, commonly 2 warp threads running together, or loose warp threads caught down only occasionally.
All the yarns are Z spun except one twill using S, and in the rep cloth there is a mixture of S and Z. The counts vary from 32-18 warp threads per inch. the weft from 24-11. the average being about 20. The felting varies from one extreme to the other.
(":Repeated" refers only to the last two colours mentioned.)
a. Check. 2/2 herring-bone. Wa. Z, 25-28, we. Z, 21-24. Three shades of brown; wa. 6 light, 6 dark alternately, in places 3 or 5 instead of 6; we. 6 light, 6 dark; in one part the dark we. are a lighter colour. Weaving pattern, herringbone stripes do not follow the stripes of the colour pattern. no. of wa. in each herring-bone vary from 17-2.
b. Check. 2/1 twill. Wa. Z, 30, we. Z, 23. Brown and green; 4 green., c. 31 brown, repeat 1 ½ - 1 7/8 ins. sq. Cloth rather felted on one side, hard and firm.
c. Check. 2/2 twill. Wa. Z, c. 25, we. Z, 16-20. Two shades of brown; wa. 16 dark, 48 light; we. 14 dark, 48 light; wa. repeats pattern at 3 1/4 ins. Cloth delicate, lightly spun and open, dark threads heavier than light.
d. Check. 2/2 twill. Wa. Z, 24-27, we. Z, 20-23. Two shades of brown and green., wa. 6 dark. 6 light repeated 5 times, 18 green, 6 light, 18 green, 6 light, 6 dark repeated 7 times. we. 6 dark, 6 light repeated 6 times, 11 green, 5 light, 10 green, 6 light, 6 dark repeated 6 times. Not enough cloth to see a repeat. Unfelted.
e. Cheek. 2/2 herringbone. Wa. Z, c. 26, we. Z, 21. Dark brown, light brown, khaki-brown and red-brown; wa. 4R, 6LB, 5DB, 6LB, 6DB, 6LB, 5DB, 6LB, 6DB, 6LB, 5DB, 6LB, 6DB, 6LB, ?DB, 6LB, 4R, 15KB, 4R, 13+KB . . . ; we. 6LB, 6DB repeated 3 times, 3LB, 4R, 16LB, 4R, 13LB, 4R, 4LB, 6DB, 6LB repeated 8 times. Weaving pattern, herring-bone stripes with c. 12 threads in each do not follow colour pattern. Cloth lightly spun, not enough to see repeat. Very fragmentary.
f. Check. 2/2 twill. Wa. Z, 30, we. Z, 23. Green and brown; wa. 4G at selvedge, 1 2/5. ins. brown, 6G, 6B, 6G, 2.3 ins. brown, 6G, 6B, 6G, 56B, 6G, 4+B; we. 4 ins. +brown, 6G, 6B, 6G., 2.5 ins. +B. Selvedge has double threads in the 2 outside places. Cloth is firm with a softer thread in the we.
g. Check. 2/1 twill. Wa. Z, 20-25, we. c. 18. Two shades of green and brown; wa. 28-30 brown, 6 dark green repeating, we. 30-32 brown, 5 khaki-green repeating, we. green stripe faint due to 2/1 twill, wa. repeat 1 5/8 ins., we. repeat 2 ins. Hard, felted on inside.
h. Stripes. 2/2 Herringbone. Wa. Z, c. 27, we. Z, c. 24. Mid-brown cloth with single threads of green and red at one side arranged RBGBRBGBR. Weaving pattern, herringbone stripes do not coincide with colour stripes; herringbone stripes of 9 or 5 threads between pieces of twill over 2 ¼ inss. Wide. Fine and unfelted.
i. 2/2 herring-bone. Wa. Z, c. 30-32, we. Z, 18-20. Green and brown. Weaving pattern, herring-bone stripes consist of 11-8 threads, between two there is no displacement. Selvedge of light coloured threads, double in the outside 4 places. Cloth is 1 1/2 ins. wide, 5ft. 7 ins. long, with selvedge the whole length of one side. Fine and firm.
j. Rep. Wa. Z, 6-7, 3 threads together, we. 2-ply, |Z twist, S spun, 116-20. Black, 3 shades of brown, red-brown, no regular repeat of the stripe pattern though a number of narrow stripes are reversed in order to make a definite pattern within a broad stripe. The wool is particularly long stapled and lustrous.
k. Knitting. A strip over 2 ft. long, very felted. Stocking stitch, decrease every 8th st. 5 sts. Per inch. Might have been the brim of a cap similar to l.
l. Knitted cap, internal circumference 21 ins., brim 1 in wide, circumference of crown 28 ins. Brown, 2-ply, Z spun, S twisted. 5.5 sts. on brim and 6.5 sts. on crown per inch, 10 rows per inch. Worked on 4 pins in stocking stitch. Knitting starts a the inside under edge of the brim with 118 sts., increases in the 4th row to 129 sts., decreasing in c. 17th row to 116 sts. There are 20 or 21 rows in brim. Upper edge is fastened back to beginning row. The junction of brim and crown is obscured by felting. Crown must start with c. 118sts., increases soon after beginning and again in 14th or 15th row making 171 sts., the maximum number. After 12 plain rows there are decreases in every 3rd st. to make 130 sts. After 10 rows decreases to 92 sts. Decreases in the 7th, 5th, 5th, 3rd, 3rd rows ending with 5sts. It is extremely felted inside and on the outside where the crown is hidden by the brim.

27. Tarvie, Garve, Ross-shire. (1935. 208.) [The villages of Tarvie and Garve are about 3 miles apart, on the A385 Inverness-Ullapool road, and about 9 miles west of Dingwall.] A green woollen knitted cap on loan from the Scottish United Services Museum, Edinburgh Castle. It was found with another not now known [apparently in Inverness Museum], in 1935, 3 ft. below the surface of the peat bog. The cap is slightly oval in shape, the circumference inside the brim is 21 ins., of the crown when flat 33.25 ins. There are two cut slits under the edge of the crown just above the brim, probably the position of a brooch or badge. The cap is very felted; the stitches on the inside are indistinguishable. The outside appears to have been shaved. Stocking stitch and four pins have been used. There are 7 stitches and 10 rows per inch. The knitting seems to have started at the lower inside edge of the brim with about 103 stitches. The width of the brim is only 0.5 in., and on its outer edge the number of stitches has increased to 125. On this edge where the brim folds back on itself there seems to be a row of garter stitch. The inner edge of the upper side of the brim is attached to the brim, but the junction of the brim and crown are too felted to distinguish the stitches or ascertain whether the brim and crown were continuous or stitched together after knitting. The crown must have started with about 103 stitches, and after 21 ins. it reached its maximum diameter with 230 stitches. The first row of decreasing is almost at the edge of the crown. There are 9 rows of decreases between here and the centre 13, 9, 7, 5, 4, 5, 2, 1 and 1 rows apart; the last 6 stitches are pulled together at the centre of the crown.

28. Birsay, Orkney. (NA 2.) P.S.A.S., xvi (1881-2), 11. Some pieces of extremely worn and patched woollen clothing found. about 1881, with the skeleton of a girl in a bog. The find has been included with the 17th-century pieces because of the similarity of the single thread colour stripes in piece g with those from Dava, including 26 h. Another fragment of interest is b, which originally had a pattern of warp stripes but one of the two warps has completely disappeared; presumably it was of vegetable fibre.
a. 3 pieces of yellow-brown cloth, the largest 16 x 10' ins. Weave, 2/1 twill. Probable wa. Z, 18, we. S, 13, thicker, softer and lighter colour. The cloth is very heavy, firmly woven and slightly felted.
b. 1 piece yellow brown, 9.75 x 10.5 ins. Either the warp or the weft was made of two materials, one of which has completely disappeared. There is an edge to the cloth which, if it is the selvedge, means the warp was mixed. The arrangement of the stripes is irregular, sometimes the vanished threads alternating with the woollen threads, but not more than three of either coming together. Weave, plain. ? Wa. Z., 18, we. Z, 16.
c. 3 pieces light and dark brown cloth. Weave, plain. Probable wa. darker, harder spun, Z, 19, we. S, 19. Regular but rather loosely woven.
d. 1 piece light brown cloth. Weave, plain. Count, 20. One yarn Z the other S. Cloth firmer and more felted than c.
e. Similar to d. Count, 26 x 20.
f. Similar to d, but more irregular. Count, 19 x 23.
g. Light brown. Weave, 2/1 twill. Probable wa. Z, 32, we. S, 26, lighter spun. Stripes, probably in the wa., consist of 2 green, 2 brown, 2 red, 2 brown, 2 green threads. This combination is placed at intervals of 2.5, 4.75 and 4.25 ins. There is a broad green stripe parallel with these at one side over 1.5 ins. wide.
h. Cloth forming foundation of garment. Largest piece 21 x 171 ins. Dark brown. Weave, plain. Wa. Z, 27, we. Z, 16. Selvedge has double thread in outside place. Less evenly spun than other cloths.

29. Quintfall Hill, Barrock, Caithness. (NA 408-416.) P.S.A.S., LV (1920-1), 213-21 (contains full report). [Barrock village is just of the A836 Thurso-Wick coast road, some 10 miles east of Thurso.] Clothing found on the skeleton of a man buried in the moss: dated by the coins in his purse to the end of the 17th century.

a. The bonnet. Dark brown. 2/1 twill. ? Wa. Z, 28, we. Z, 21. The inside is very felted and the threads quite obscure; on the outside they are distinct. The bonnet was shrunk and the nap raised after sewing. One Piece of the brim had been used with the side with weft threads predominating to the outside, but the nap is raised on the inside like are the res t of the bonnet (PI. IV, 3). It is not correct to say (as in the report) that the bonnet would only fit a child; it fits the present Keeper of the Museum.
b. The outer coat. Mid-brown. 2/2 twill. Wa. Z, 22-30, we. Z, 19-23. Width of warp over 31 ins. Selvedge, double threads in 2 outside places. There are gores in the cloth at the bottom of both front pieces, with at least 4 extra threads. The cloth has been rather felted but the nap has worn off on the front, especially at the waist. The buttons here and on the breeches are of cloth.
c. The inner coat. Mid-brown. 2/1 twill. Wa. Z. 28-30, we. Z, 19. Width of warp 27 ins. Selvedge, one side double threads in 2 outside places, on other side in 3 outside places. The cloth has been somewhat felted but the nap has worn off the front. A similar fabric to the plaid. The positions of the buttons all show very distinctly, and they would seem to have gone since the coat was buried-possibly they were of leather.
d. Outer breeches. Dark brown. 2/1 twill. Wa. Z, 27, we. Z, 15. Width of warp over 26 ins. Selvedge, double threads in 4 outside places. Cloth very felted inside and very firm. There has been a lining to the waistband which has totally, disappeared though the stitching remains. Patched with various cloths: (1) 2/1 twill, we. with lighter fleece mixed in it, light weight, felted. (2) Similar, but all dark brown. (3) 2/1 twill, hard spun, unfelted.
Tapes at bottom of leg: (1) 1 type, 0.75 in. wide, rep with warp stripe. Wa. fine 2-ply S, we. brown, 2-ply S, 10, thicker. Warp pattern 4 brown, 4 red, 4B, 4 light green, 2 dark green, 4R, 8B, 2LG 2B. (2) 2 tapes, 9/16 in. wide. Similar, heavier. We. green, 7 per in. Warp pattern 6B 1G, 1B, 1R, 1B, 1R, 1B, 1R, 1B 1R, 1B 1G, 1B, 1G, 1B, 1G, 1B. The tapes are similar to that from Gunnister, especially b. where the use of alternate threads of different colours in a warp rep makes a design of transverse stripes.
e. Inner breeches. Mid-brown, warp of lighter colour. 2/2 twill. Wa. Z, 24. we. Z. 20. Width of wa. 26.5 ins. Selvedge, double threads in 2 outside places. Gore of 6 threads above left knee. Cloth rather felted, worn off in places now. There was apparently a leather facing inside to the front opening, a leather pocket to the right of the front, and the long side slit has been loosely whipped and must have held a pocket too, and there was a lining to the waistband; the leather leaves slight traces, in the other places nothing but the stitching remains.
Linings and patches. (1) 2/2 twill, Z, 26 x 21, unfelted. (2) 2/1 twill. Z, 30 x S, 18.
f. The Stockings. Mid-brown. 2/2 twill. Wa. Z 27, we. Z, 24. The tops are rather felted, but not much below.
g. Plaid. Mid-brown with dark stripe. Dimensions about 64 x 107 ins. 2/1 twill. Wa. Z, 21-24, we. Z, 18-20. Selvedge, double in 2 outside places. Felting seems to have been little originally, but now rather varied. There are no weaving mistakes to be seen at all.
The plaid is made of 2 identical strips sewn together down the centre, the warp being 28-33 ins. wide. The dark stripe is 3-4 ins. wide, 11 ins. from the selvedge at each side; it is not an even colour, but the inner half is mixed with noticeably lighter coloured threads. Both ends of the plaid have been cut, one is hemmed and the other oversewn. Against the former end is an area of lighter colour which the "shaped piece" mentioned in the report exactly fits, its long edge having been sewn to the end of the plaid. Holes of vanished stitches can be traced round the edge of the "shaped piece" and round the shadow on the plaid; originally the "shaped piece" was sewn down on all sides to the end of the plaid, with the deliberately made hole in the centre, with inturned edges. The shaped piece was evidently a later addition to the side with weft predominating, but was not a patch for there is a patch on the plaid under it, but no other hole. No explanation of its use can be offered.
Most of the sewing is by 2-4 strand but in places, as round the shaped piece, the sewing has gone and was probably by a vegetable fibre thread. There are also the remains of a patch at the other end of the plaid, which seems to have been a cloth with a warp of wool and weft of linen. Now there are only the woollen threads left, Z spun, about 20 per inch, showing the positions of the vanished threads by a series of indentations.
A piece about 18 x 20 ins. has been cut from the centre of the plaid shortly before its burial; the edges are quite unfrayed.
h. “Shaped piece." Mid-brown with dark brown stripes. 2/1 twill. Wa. Z, 24, we. Z, 21. Width of warp over 32 ins. Selvedge, double in 3 outside places. Hardly felted. Similar cloth to plaid. Against one selvedge, 1 in. mid-brown 1.25 ins. dark brown. l.25 mid-brown., 5/8 in dark brown. There is a gore of 6 threads against the striped side and another on the other side. There are warp mistakes, loose threads and threads running together.

30. Gunnister, Shetland. (NA 1037-1049.) Clothing and other articles found on the skeleton of a man buried in the moss. The latest date on the coins in his purse is 1690 (see pp. 30-42).

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