Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Highland Bonnet

 The first mention of the highland bonnet appears to be in the 1600s. The bonnet of this period was a round woolen hat. It is my assumption based on the period images I have seen that these hats got smaller as time went on.

 Some of the earliest images of the bonnet we see are these from a cut of Scottish mercenaries of the 30 years war circa 1630. 

Scottish Mercenaries, 1630
 These bonnets look to be very large and full. 
 The following painting from 1683 is interesting. The man in the painting appears to be wearing some sort of felt plumed hat, but if we look in the background we see a man wearing a large flat hat of sorts. This is most likely a bonnet. 

 In 1688 the Governor of the Isle of Man wrote a description of Highlanders: "Their thighs are bare, with brawny muscles. . . a thin brogue on the foot, a short buskin of various colours on the legg, tied above the calf with a striped pair of garters. What should be concealed is hid with a large shot-pouch, on each side of which hangs a pistol and a dagger. A round target on their backs, a blew bonnet on their heads, and in one hand a broad sword and a musquet in the other."

 The bonnet would move on into the 18th century and change very little. Like I said before it probably got a bit smaller as time went on. 

 Here we see a lowland laird wearing a bonnet. 

This bonnet style continues to appear on up to the 45. 

42nd Highlander, 1740s

42nd Highlander Corporal, 1740s

Bonnie Prince Charlie, 1750
 In the above images we see the bonnet used by Royal highlanders and also the bonnet of the Bonnie Prince.

 Jumping into the late 18th century we see a drastic change in the bonnet. The painting by David Allen shows a completely different look. 

  Not only is the bonnet smaller, we see a checkered pattern and a little tuft of red on the top. 

Finally lets have a look at 3 existing examples of highland bonnets. 

The first bonnet is really fascinating because it has straps on the side to tie under the chin! The shape of the bonnet is very classic and typical of paintings from the period. These bonnets were dug up along with clothing. 

3 sets of clothing and bonnets 

 It is important in choosing ones bonnet for Highland reenacting because the time period matters much. Typically the bonnets available at most vendors are incorrect or maybe of the right shape but made incorrectly. 

 I would recommend William Boothe Draper or Mara Riley for a good correct highland bonnet of the time during and before the 45. 

The Author in his fathers bonnet
 Quick story about the bonnet I am wearing. The Story goe's, my dad purchased this back in the 80s. It was made in Scotland by a lady who's family had been making bonnets for 300 years. When she past away these bonnets stopped being made.

 I always think trades like bonnet making or shoe making or weaving are so fascinating. Maybe I'll have the nerve some day to try to take up a period trade. In the mean time thanks for reading.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Opening Thoughts

 I have spent many years in reenacting and one of my many passions has always been Scottish history specifically the times of the rebellions from 1689 to 1746.  It has resonated the most with me throughout my study of history. 

 Unfortunately it is a part of history that is muddied by the victorian romanticized view of it. Because of this many parts of the material culture have been misused amongst historical reenactors. Victorian dirks, sporrans and kilts run a-muck in the hobby. 

 My hope is to shed some light on the culture and material culture of the Scottish highlands before the last highland charge and learn along the way.