Coat Colours Part 3: The Scots

The latest instalment of the coat colours series looks at the Scots. A set of coat colours that you can really go wild with the colour palette. Or maybe not. 

When I wrote this I was only really interested in the Covenanters; for a slightly more in depth look at what well dressed Highlanders and Irishmen wore around town have a look Coat Colours Part 3b: The Army of Montrose.

The rest of my coat colour posts:
Part 1 Parliamentarian coat colours
Part 2 Royalist coat colours
Part 4 Dragoons, Horse and the New Model Army coat colours
The Trained Bands

The too long didn't read answer is: paint it Hodden Grey. 

Here's a list of regiments that have a reference for coats being issued - those coats issued, were 'probably Hodden Grey'. 

Those regiments with a specific reference to Hodden Grey are described as 'Hodden Grey'. There are a handful of regiments who, wait for it, quite possibly didn't wear Hodden Grey. 

Highland Regiments invariably wore highland dress - I've listed a couple of units that don't specifically have 'Highlanders' in their regimental title. 

The phrase 'highland dress' will of course get a number of people very hot under the collar; suffice it to say that the modern 'kilt' looks nothing like traditional kilts, and the concept of tartan is a whole can of worms I have no desire to open. Google is your friend here, not me.

Which poses the question what colour is Hodden Grey? 

Traditionally shown as a grey colour (as illustrated by the re-enactors above) Hodden Grey was in fact a name for the style of cloth - unbleached/undyed natural wool, rather than a specific colour.

Cheviots - an example of the colour of the white wool in the mix

Hebridean sheep - an example of a black sheep, illustrating how 'not black' the 'black' in the mix was

Hodden Grey was made by mixing 'black' and white fleeces together in the proportion of one to twelve when weaving. But as black and darker sheep fleeces are brown the ensuing 'grey' mixes are most likely a range of browns and browny greys. 

In the 1920s the skeleton of a man was found in the bogs of Quintfall Hill, he was dressed in Hodden Grey. His clothing was remarkably well preserved, and is well documented. Although dating from the 1690s the jacket and breeches are apparently the same as those worn during the Wars.

Quintfall Hill Man's clothes have been recreated a number of times, and images are widely available on the web.

According to the font of all knowledge (Wikipedia - don't laugh!'Hodden Grey' is a registered Trademark owned by The London Scottish Regimental Trust. A Google image search for this modern, consistent, fabric is probably a pretty good starting point to pick a central paint colour: then pick some lighter shades, some shades darker, and some greyer. This approach may help give a pleasing pastiche of seventeenth century Hodden Grey  which would no doubt be a wide range of colours and shades.

For those of you wondering where most of this information comes from - A Regimental History of the Covenanting Armies 1639-1651, EM Furgol

The Solemn League and Covenant
Probably Hodden Grey

·         Marquis of Argyll’s Highland
·         Earl of Atholl
·         Lord Balfour of Burleigh
·         Lord Balmerino
·         Col Harie Barclay
·         Lord Bargany
·         Col Gilbert Blair
·         Lord Carnegie
·         Earl of Crawford-Lindsay
·         Colonel Richard Douglas
·         Sir William Douglas of Kirkness
·         Sir James Drummond of Machanie
·         Earl of Dumfries
·         Earl of Dunfermline
·         Lord Elcho
·         Colonel John Forbes of Leslie
·         Sir Alexander Frazer of Philorth
·         Earl of Glencairn (English service) later Col Robert Cunningham
·         Lord Gordon
·         Sir John Grey
·         Sir John Haldane of Gleneagles
·         Duke of Hamilton
·         Col James Hay of Delgatty
·         Earl of Home
·         Sir John Innes
·         Col George Keith of Aden
·         Earl of Kellie
·         Sir Andrew Kerr of Greenhead
·         Lord Kilpont
·         Col John Lindsay of Edzell
·         Earl Marischal
·         Colonel Harie Maule
·         Colonel Patrick Maule
·         Sir George Preston of Valleyfield
·         Earl of Roxburgh

Hodden Grey

·         Marquis of Argyll’s Lowand
·         Earl of Buccleugh later Col Walter Scott’s, then Col William Baillie’s
·         Earl of Callendar
·         Sir Mungo Campbell of Lawer (wore red breeches in 1639)
·         Earl of Cassilis
·         Lord Coupar
·         Master of Cranstoun
·         Sir James Douglas of Mouswall
·         Sir William Douglas of Kilhead
·         Viscount Dudhope
·         Sir Alexander Gibson of Durie later Lord Sinclair’s
·         Sir Alexander Hamilton
·         Sir Patrick Hepburn of Waughton
·         Col James Holborn
·         Sir David Home of Wedderburn
·         Sir John Home of Ayton later Col Ludovick Leslie’s
·         Viscount Kenmure
·         Earl of Lanark
·         Earl of Lauderdale
·         Lord Livingstone
·         Earl of Lothian
·         Earl of Loudon
·         Sergeant-Major-General Colin Pitscottie
·         Col James Rae
·         Sir Thomas Ruthven of Freeland
·         Lord Sinclair
·         Col William Stewart
·         Earl of Tullibardine
·         Sir John Wauchope of Niddrie
·         Sir James Wood of Balbegno
·         The Master of Yester

Not-Hodden Grey™ 
(the exciting bit)

Sir George Buchannan
Blue 1639 (Six North Country Diaries by John Crawford Hodgson. The Publications of the Surtees Society Vol. CXVII, Durham, 1910)

Sir John Cochrane of that Ilk later Robert Home of Heugh’s, then Col John Maxwell’s
Originally hodden grey, on return to Scotland in 1645 they wore red (A Regimental History of the Covenanting Armies 1639-1651, EM Furgol)

Earl of Eglinton later Col James Montgomery
On return to Scotland in 1645 they wore red (A Regimental History of the Covenanting Armies 1639-1651, EM Furgol)

Sir Arthur Erskine of Scotscraig’s, the Ministers’ Regiment
Grey or black allegedly the regiment wore black coats made from old clerical garb donated by the Ministers of Scotland. No original citation, nice story, good enough for me and a change from painting Hodden Grey!

The King’s Lifeguard (3rd Civil War)
Presumed red - Lorne requested coats all of one colour, and Charles requisitioned coats for his army from Worcester clothiers just prior to the battle, neglecting to pay for them. Red would appear to be the most likely colour but is not definite. In June 2008 Prince Charles the Prince of Wales at last paid off the £453 and 3 shillings debt

Highland Dress

·         Marquis of Argyll’s Lifeguard
·         Allan Cameron of Lochiel

It is presumed that the Highland Regiments wore highland dress, the two regiments mentioned are only mentioned because they are not explicitly called Highland Regiments

The Army of Montrose
Probably Hodden Grey

·         Strathbogie Regiment
·         Lord Kilpont

All other regiments are ‘unknown’

The Irish Brigade

‘Unknown’ believed to be civilian clothes

Highland Dress

It is presumed that the Highland Regiments wore highland dress

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  1. Interesting that "hodden grey" was originally a style/quality of cloth. I was told by Dave Ryan that this was once true of "scarlet" also and it only later became associated with bright red because that was the most common colour for that (particularly high) quality of cloth. Apparently, it was at least partially the origin of the myth that only the King's men were allowed to wear red. Looks like another "multi-coloured" force on the tabletop......

    1. I didn't know that about 'scarlet'. Off to find out more about that one now...


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