Hodden Grey: From Scottish Homespun to Modern Battledress by Anthony Partington.
Tony Partington has spent nine years researching a humble Scottish homespun cloth: hodden grey and its Gaelic ancestor, lachdann. For millennia, this homemade cloth, spun and woven from the undyed wool of those few sheep permitted to peasants, dressed most Britons.
Early Gaelic society mandated single-colour apparel for peasants, and Scotland kept custom-breeding sheep for this purpose much longer than the rest of Europe. Prehistoric, oral Gaelic dress laws, written down in the 8th century, continued in Scottish sumptuary laws until 1698. Modern tartan flourished only when cheaper, brighter cloth of the industrial revolution replaced homespun hodden.
In the 1860s, a Scottish aristocrat, Lord Elcho, MP, promoted a deerstalker’s tweed-mixture cloth, resembling ancient hodden grey, to dress Britain’s new volunteer force and his own London Scottish Rifle Volunteers, later the London Scottish Regiment. This cloth was inconspicuous battledress, appropriate for rapidly changing rifle technology, compared to the iconic scarlet so necessary in the earlier, smoke-filled battlefields. The initial colour of modern hodden grey evolved over time.
In this compelling, lavishly illustrated volume, Tony explores languages, cultures, and rare types of custom-bred sheep, and harnesses photographs (many in colour) and original maps, to spin a fascinating ‘history of Scotland in a piece of cloth,’ as that vibrant nation has interacted with the surrounding peoples and nations of northwestern Europe for millennia.
- 277 pages
- 21cm x 14cm
- Words Indeed Publishing (2022)
- ISBN 9781989243022