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English: Scottish woollen shirt from Arnish Moor





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The riddle of the mysterious garment is solved.

The fact that Scotland and Ireland can boast a number of exclusive bog finds from the late 17th and early 18th centuries has probably escaped most people’s attention. They certainly remained unknown to me until about year ago, when Kass McGann at Reconstructing History launched a new series of patterns based on the preserved garbs from the pete bogs of Ireland and Scotland. The remains and clothing of a young, murdered man was found in 1964 at Arnish Moor on the isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The find, which has been dated to the late 1600s or early 1700s, consisted of a pair of sewn socks/hosen, two woollen shirts or smocks, a jacket and a knitted bonnet. Apart from the tattered and much-mended attire, the body was found with a horn comb, a spoon, quills and an unidentified piece of pattern-woven cloth. More information on the find can be found in this pdf-file.

It is the outer one of the two woollen shirts or smocks that I have reconstructed here from a light woollen twill. Although the extant original didn’t show any signs of lining, I chose to line the garment with a light, soft linen fabric to add some strength to the thin outer cloth. The knee-length garment appears to represent a local Scottish-Hebridean fashion, as similar shirts or smocks are apparently unknown from the rest of Europe. Written sources from 18th century Scotland suggest that such shirts were common in the Scottish Highlands at the time.

The shirt is closed with eleven cloth-buttons at the front and three buttons at each cuff. While the garment feels a bit tight and uncomfortable at the front neckline (which I should have placed slightly more to the front) I am fairly satisfied with the fit. The measurements were adapted to fit mine, and I drew up the pattern after the outline featured in the document, but otherwise patterns for the entire garb can be purchased from Reconstructing History.

Additionally, I could mention that the garment was sewn with a medium-light two-plied linen thread 35/2 (backstitches) and the yardage requirements were pretty exactly 1.5 x 1.5 m (60” x 60“) with minimal wastage.

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