Historical Scottish Clothing Project
Materials for King James V's Highland Clothing

by Sharon L. Krossa

Last updated 27 Sep 2003  

The Scottish Lord High Treasurer's accounts for the year 1538 include the costs of materials for a set of Highland clothing for King James V.

This shouldn't need saying, but I've learned from past experience: Note that these accounts make no mention of a plaid, belted or otherwise, nor of any kind of kilt.


Unfortunately, at the moment I don't have the details of the original manuscripts. However, I suspect that they are held by The National Archives of Scotland.

Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, Vol. 6

Balfour Paul, Sir James, ed. Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland (Compota Thesaurariorum Regum Scotorum). Vol. 6 (1531-8). Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1905.


Item, in the first, for ij elnis ane quarter elne of variant cullorit velvet to be the Kingis grace ane schort heland coit, price of the elne vj li.; summa xiij li. x s.

Item, for iij elnis of heland tertane to be hois to the Kingis grace, price of the elne iiij s. iiij d.; summa xiij s.

Item, for xv elnis of holland claith to be syde heland sarkis to the Kingis grace, price of the elne viij s.; summa vj li.

Item, for iij elnis of blak satyne of Janis to be his grace ane doublet, price of the elne xxx s.; summa iiij li. x s.

Item, for vj quarteris of blak lukis velvet to be ane pair of hois to the Kingis grace, price of the elne iij li., and for ane elne of uther blak velvet to compleit the said hois, and to be ane pair of schone to his grace, schapin be Thomas Arthure, price of the said elne iij li.: summa viij li. v s.

...." (p. 436)

Thomas Arthure was one of the King's tailors. Note that a variety of items are listed in this account of discharges/expenses from August 1538 -- they are not necessarily related to one another in any way other than all being materials used by the King's tailor.

McClintock: Old Irish and Highland Dress (1943)

McClintock, H.F. Old Irish and Highland Dress, with Notes on that of the Isle of Man. Dundalk: W. Tempest, Dundalgan Press, 1943.

Note that McClintock lists various items that are not found listed with the materials for the King's "schort heland coit", "heland tertane to be hois", and "syde heland sarkis" in the published Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, vol. 6, p. 436. Below, these extra items added by McClintock from an unknown source have been marked in gray. It is possible, even probable, that these extra items are entirely unrelated to the King's Highland clothing.

"THE LORD HIGH TREASURER'S ACCOUNTS of materials for a Highland dress made for King James V in 1538 -- (abbreviated):"

" £ s. d.
2 1/4 ells of 'variant cullorit velvit' to be 'ane schort Heland Coit,' at £6 the ell 13 10 0
3 1/4 ells of 'green taffatys to line the said coit with' at 10/- the ell 1 12 6
3 ells of 'Heland tertane to be hoiss' at 4s. 4d. the ell   13 0
15 ells of 'Holland claith to be syde Heland Sarkis'1 (syde == long, or hanging low) at 8/- the ell 6 0 0
2 'Unce of silk to sew the same' 10 0
4 ells of 'rubanis to the hands of thame' 2 0
'For sowing and making the said sarkis' 9 0"

McClintock comments: "The 'hoiss' -- i.e. hose -- would mean trews, as stockings would have been called 'short hoiss.'2" [However, McClintock may be stretching the evidence here.]

McClintock's footnotes:
"1Some writers quote this as 'three Heland Sarkis'; but there is no number in the original.
"2As stated by Skene in his Highlanders of Scotland, Chapter IX."
(pp. 111-112)

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