Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Tuesday, 15 November 2016
If you are from clan Lamont or one of it's septs, l do not need to explain to you why we are not friendly with Clan Campbell. Apart from treating the Lamont clan badly and taking sides with the English, they generally were not popular in the Scottish highlands. In fact many taverns had and some may still have signs reading " No Campbell's Allowed ". Out of principle l do not support any businesses owned or operated by members of Clan Campbell, which means I do not eat their shortbread, luckily Walkers makes a nice shortbread instead. To my dismay the town where I now reside has a popular butchery called " Campbell's Butchery " , you really have to search hard in the local supermarket to avoid any of their products as they make sausages, black puddings and other small goods.To make matters worse it seems they are quite proud of the family roots and even have a stylized clan badge featuring a wild looking boar on their signage . It makes me wonder if they really know much about their Clan history at all. Pictured in this post is their family butchery logo !
Friday, 28 October 2016
When l lived in Japan, l was unable to purchase any replica Scottish weapons , such as firearms, swords etc. But when I decided to return home to be closer to sick family members here in New Zealand. I did start window shopping for jacobite period swords , even though I did not have the extra funds to purchase anything at the time. While the Scottish basket hilt swords are the most popular among reenactors. That is not your only choice. If you wanted to portray a lower class of jacobite , there is nothing wrong with only having a locharbour axe !. After receiving some fantastic advice from my good friend Henrik who is an expert on jacobite period weapons he also mentioned the French epee du soldat sword which was brought over in great numbers from France to arm the jacobite groups. The Scottish basket hilts were only carried by 25 percent of the troups as they were very expensive. The rest were armed with older swords, French swords such as the one mentioned above or British infantry hangers that were captured from enemy troops. I had already decided that as l am trying to portray middle-class rank and file jacobite that the French sword would suit me best. So imagine my surprise to be given one by my good friend clansman Maclean on my birthday. I was almost lost for words - those who know me well would tell you that is quite a rare thing. So l would like to save a big thanks David, for presenting me with my 1st ever sword !. Looking forward to making a nice leather baldrick for it when I get time. Posted below is a photo of my new sword.
Wednesday, 26 October 2016
Tuesday, 4 October 2016
I have learnt a lot from a fantastic Facebook group that I belong to called Jacobite Rising Reenactors, check them out as its well worth joining if you are serious about putting together an authentic impression and have also read a lot of history books as well. The fun part of this hobby is you are continually learning new things all the time.
So lets take a look at my own impression that I am still working on , pictured below are some photos of my current kit. And some of my early mistakes
Monday, 3 October 2016
This group was comprised of the chieftain’s close relations and primary tenants, or “tacksmen”, and thus formed the gentry or “upper-crust” of the clan society as it turned out to fight. These were also known as “front rank men” as they would take up that position in the clan battle line. Not a numerous contingent, this class only accounted for about ¼ of the clan’s fighting force.
They were the “shock troops” of the clan regiment, forming the front rank and charging fiercely upon their enemies with sword and targe, after delivering a volley from their firelocks. They did not believe in engaging in firefights, and did not usually have the ammunition to do so.
To use a modern phrase, these men were from the “middle class” of clan society, and thus were the most numerous group. They comprised better than ½ of the total of fighting men fielded by the clan. There were gradations within this grouping; what we would call “upper middle class” on down to “lower middle class”, but certain generalizations apply. They were smallholders and tenants of the clan gentry; the working class: the cattle drovers, the boatmen, the farmers, and so forth. During normal times, under the leadership of one of the “gentry”, they would make up the cattle-raiding parties or punitive expeditions that were a part of the constant “interaction” between the clans. During war, they would form the middle ranks of the theoretical four-rank regimental battle line.
Weapons. As a rule, this class of men did not own personal firearms, not because they were prevented but rather because they couldn’t afford one. A tiny number possessed very old or beat up guns, including 17th C. matchlocks or worn out pieces with broken locks and cracked stocks. During the `45, however, practically all of these men would be issued military muskets that had been captured, or shipped in from the Continent. The two main types would be the British Long Land Pattern (sometimes called the 1st Model “Brown Bess”) and especially the French Fusils D’Infanterie models of 1717 or 1728. Issued as a “stand of arms”, a bayonet and cartridge box would most often have been included with the musket.
Most of these men would have carried some type of sword. In the Highlands, a sword was equated with the fighting man. But also, all European infantrymen carried swords as side arms during this period, so one would expect the Highland soldier to follow suit. One would not encounter elaborate “top-of-the-line” basket hilts within this group, but numbers of older, simpler types of basket hilt swords, including knocked-about veterans of the last century. Many, however, would be armed with one of a variety of non-basket hilted blades, including hangers or “cuttoes” with simple guards, and British or French infantry swords. These latter types would be issued with the appropriate musket as part of a “stand of arms.”
All would have their dirks, but only a few would possess a targe.
General. In battle, these rank-and-file men would deliver musketry along with the front rank gentry, but like them would not have the ammunition nor training to prevail in any sort of firefight. They would go into the Highland Charge with either the sword, or with fixed bayonets.
Less concerned with fashion than their “betters”, an altogether plainer appearance would be manifest. Facial hair would be more apparent here than amongst the more stylishly clean-shaven gentlemen. Without the benefit of “ghillies” to carry their baggage, these men would be encumbered with haversacks, canteens, and the like.
Forming the rear of the clan formation would be the lowliest members of the clan economic structure, and the most ill-armed. They would account for the remaining ¼ of the total force. Made up of the serving class (ghillies), the landless, and “broken” or clan-less men, these were not truly fighting men at all, but were there at their masters’ beck, or from having been “press ganged” into the army. Their function, besides waiting upon their betters, was simply to add depth to the clan battle line, and the weight of additional bodies to the Charge.
Weapons. Personally owned weaponry would consist merely of an unadorned dirk or hunting knife. There is some debate as to the number of imported or captured muskets available for issue to these men. It is realistic to assume that firearms were in short supply and that the rear-rankers had few if any available for their use. Polearms such as Lochaber axes and “half-pikes” - eight-foot spears - would be handed out to some of these men. Others would be armed with improvised weapons such as scythes attached to poles, or would be possessed of only a stave or bludgeon. If a sword made an extremely rare appearance, it would be some old, rusty, or broken bit.
General. This group of unwilling warriors served little real use in battle, and was unreliable as a fighting force. The best they could hope for would be to hack down a fleeing foe, or to loot the fallen. Many would simply run away or hide.
Their appearance would reflect the abysmal poverty of the people who occupied the lowest socio-economic level of 18th C. Highland clan society. Dirty, ragged, unkempt and ill-equipped are the norms for this class.
Friday, 23 September 2016
And if you want to see one being used , my friend Kyle from Canada gives a fantastic demonstration of how to use it in the following link. Also check out his Facebook group called
Sunday, 21 August 2016
Literary references are quite rare , though ( The Tongue of the trump ) is a Scottish proverb - used by Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns , no less , describing the main or most active person in a group.
Another early reference to the trump is found in the fantastic book Highland Folk Ways by I F Grant on page 135 which states - The highlanders also played a humbler instrument - the Jews harp - generally called the trump. the earliest allusion to it I have met is in a record of a trail at a Justice Court held at Inveraray in 1677 . a certain Donald McIlmichall , vagabond was accused of stealing a cow and consorting with evil spirits. Donald told the court that one Sunday evening he had noticed an lightened opening in a hill in Appin, and on entering , he had seen a crowd of men and women dancing in a place having many lighted candles. He said he did not know who they were but judged them not to be worldlie men. He admitted that he returned to meet in various shians ( fairy mounds ) on ilk Sabbath nights and that he played the trumps to them quhen they danced. There is more to the incident but you will need to read the book to find out more.
The jaw harp , trump is often overlooked today as nothing more than a children's toy when in fact as a musical instrument is has a history spanning 1500 years or so
Tuesday, 26 July 2016
Saturday, 23 July 2016
The Tartan : If you are trying to recreate an 18th century fileadhbeag or the larger fileadhmuir and want it to look authentic purchase some non clan tartan in muted colours - Harris tweed makes some fantastic tartans which are very suitable for this project - you may get a shock at the price per mtr but please remember this is hand woven in Scotland and very high quality , it is well worth the money !
First step : For the fileadhbeag you will need 3.5 - 4 mtrs in length so lay it out and see what it looks like , my first one was made out of some left over tartan ( not Harris Tweed ) and it was too short ! , no problem as if you are careful you can match the setts and sew them together to achieve the required length , pictured below is a photo showing the tartan pinned together ready for sewing , if the join is between sets it will not be seen as it will be inside the pleat.
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
The Plan : To walk from my inner city apartment to the main train station 2.8km then catch a train to the countryside town of Suibara and from there walk 11km out of the town to a free riverside campsite that I like. Highlights of the walk will include lots of concrete roads unfortunately but I will pass a lagoon, the fantastic award winning Swan Lake craft brewery which opens daily at 11am and a much needed fresh water spring. The total distance from Suibara train station to the campsite at 200 mtrs elevation is only 11km but I will be wearing full 18th century Jacobite kit and carrying everything that I need. I will be dressed similar to what you can see below plus I will also be carrying a period water canteen.
At present the plan is not to take a tent but to sleep rough outdoors at the campsite , in case of rain there is a covered shelter nearby . Cooking will be done over a campfire next to the river and as I will not be carrying any pots nor pans all cooking will be done over the open fire. Extra rations will be some bread and cheese and the main evening meal will be some meat and vege . For breakfast I will make porridge and one nice part about the 2nd day is I will get to take an outdoor hot spring in the mountain village before retracing my steps back to the station. Pictured below is a map showing the main route .
I would rather be walking on unsealed gravel roads , but as they are few and far between in Japan unlike my home country of New Zealand I am making the best of what I have . I have cycled the route several times and know it well and even though its a short distance it will be a good test for any future trips that I might want to do. Pictured below is a screen shot from the bridge looking down upon the Oku Murusugi campsite, There is a toilet block to the left of the picture but the nice green area next to the river offers a great place for a campsite either above or below the dam.
Friday, 10 June 2016
Saturday, 28 May 2016
Monday, 16 May 2016
The book has a good selection of projects from beginner to advanced ,so I jumped straight to the advanced sectioned and have just started making my first ever wet formed bag. The 1st thing I had to do was to make the wooden form which turned out very well and I got a great deal this morning on some nice 2.8mm vege tan leather that is now clamped in the wooden form to dry. I should find out in a few days if the wet forming has been successful or not . If all goes well it will look something like the example below .