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Re: All Things Scottish

Poster: Corun MacAnndra <corun@access.digex.net>

Baldwin wrote:
>	As a relatively new member of SCA, I have been spending quite
>some time in researching a personna.  After a long time of this, I've
>decided to go Scottish mainly because of my ancestry. (and yes, to a MUCH
>smaller degree, Braveheart...8-}
Well, thank goodness it's only to a small degree. <g>

>	Anyway, I was wondering if anyone could suggest a few books that
>might have histories of clans, tartans, bagpipe riffs, etc.  Also, if
>anyone knows of any catalogs with Scottish items(tartans, pipes, etc.)
>I'd like to get a number or address of the catalog...

<pedantic mode> The first thing you have to understand is that, while plaid
was used by Scots throughout much of the middle ages, clan tartans are an
18th century invention and therefore outside the period we portray. Choose
a clan or invent one, but wear whatever plaid comes to hand, and combine
them freely and with wild highland abandon. This is very period. Also, if
you're going to wear a kilt, make it the Great Kilt, not the Small Kilt
(sorry, don't have the Gaelic book handy for the Scots Gaelic names)

Bagpipes are a very old instrument, but I don't know of any tunes for which
you can find music today that are pre-18th c. I will admit though that my
knowledge of Scottish music is not as great as Irish. Also, with respect to
Braveheart, in the scene where the pipes are being played for Wallace's
father in the beginning of the film, the pipes you _see_ are indeed
highland pipes, but in the soundtrack the pipes you _hear_ are actually
Uilleann pipes. These are Irish and have a completely different sound than
highland pipes. </pedantic mode>

Finally, depending on where you live there may be several shops that carry
Scottish items. If you live near the Washington DC area there are many
around there, Annapolis and Baltimore. But they're going to charge lots of
money, especially if you're going to buy a kilt. Better you should go to
the local Minnesota Fabrics (or your local inexpensive equivalent) and buy
some plaid wool and make it yourself or get someone to help you. You can
buy pipes through various folk oriented music stores. Again, if you're near
(or know someone who is) DC there's the House of Musical Traditions. On
this I'd *highly* recommend that you get only a practice chanter first
rather than a full set and learn how to play with this, preferably
somewhere relatively soundproof. There's nothing more grating to your
neighbors and friends than listening to someone practice the pipes. <g>
I've heard of electronic pipes that you can plug headphones into so that
you're the only one who can hear them while you practice.

Your basic garb kit will consist of the great kilt (of wool), some kind of
heavy leather belt, a sporran or other kind of large pouchlike bag to hang
from it, a shirt (contrary to what some people think, the Scots of our
period did not go around shirtless wearing only a small kilt, which garment
itself is out of period), wool plaid stockings, possibly a skean dubh
(that's the dagger that tucks into the stockings, but I really don't know
how far back this knife can be documented and so can't attest to it being
within our period), and a sword. I know, you're first inclination will be
to go with a claidheamhore (that's claymore for you who don't read Gaelic
;-), but there are two things you need to know;

<pedantic mode> (yes, again)
1. The sword that Scotty picked up on the Enterprise in that episode where
all the phasers got turned to swords was not a claymore, but a basket hilt
broadsword, and is out of our period. It is commonly referred to as a
claymore, but it's really not, and that is a modern usage of the word.
(Personally I'd have been much more impressed with Scotty if he'd been
given a real claymore, but hey, I don't work for Paramount and they never
asked me.)

2. The claymore is a two hand great sword five feet or more long. Be very
sure you want to carry one of these around an event before you get one.
They're nice wall hangers, but in the close quarters of an SCA event you'll
be bumping people with it and it will get in the way. You'll carry it
strapped to your back and there it will hang all evening, making it hard to
sit down, and inconvenient to stow when you do take it off (say to dance
with some charming young lady who will not otherwise want to dance with you
while you're wearing the silly thing).
</pedantic mode>

Lastly, I looked at your mundane last name, and tried to find it in my
reference book The Clans and Tartans of Scotland by Robert Bain. I couldn't
find anything closer to it than Gallie, which is a sept of Clan Gunn. I can
therefore only determine that your Scottish ancestry is from your mother's
side, or possibly your father's mother's side of the family. Galloway
sounds more Irish to me, and looks closer to Galway, both a city and a bay
in Ireland. 

Anyway, Clan Gunn of Kilernan claim descent from Olave the Black, Norse
King of Man and the Isles, who died in 1237. They lay claim to lands in the
Caithness and Sutherland. Their badge is a dexter hand holding a sword in
bend all proper, and their motto is Aut Pax Aut Bellum (either peace or
war). Their plant badge is a juniper and their pipe music is The Gunn's
Salute (sorry I don't have a date or source for this, but I'm sure there
are some pipers around who would). The plaid tartan shown for them is
similar to many hunting tartans, being mostly dark green bars crossing each
other on a lighter green background and single vertical and horizontal red
bars crossing between.

I hope this information is of help to you and that my pedantic comments
haven't dampened your spirits any. It's just that I'd rather see you do it
right than wrong, especially since, as you mentioned, you've spent a great
deal of time researching your persona.

In service,

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