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10-11th Century Irish Warriors
#1
In my research into Irish history, particularly the conflicts with the Vikings, clontarf, Brian Boru, etc. I have come across a bunch of depictions of Irish warriors wearing a sort of apron-like cloth hanging down to about the knees and about a foot wide. Sometimes it is depicted as having studs on it. What the hell is this? I have never seen any depictions of it in Irish sculpture, effigies, manuscripts, crosses, etc. I have yet to see them anywhere else except a few modern depictions of Irish warriors in battle with Vikings. Some of the pictures in mention are done by Angus McBride as you can see with the image I've posted below. I've always taken the late Angus McBride as someone who does his homework on his pieces but you never know. I have seen them elsewhere though and it baffles me as to what it is, where it comes from, sources for it and why does it appear only in the early middle ages and then disappear? I'm probably making a big fuss over nothing but it's just been bugging the hell out of me as I can't find any answers anywhere. I'm hoping you guys might be able to help me. I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks,
-Dennis

[attachment=57]00017.jpg[/attachment]

[attachment=58]00016.jpg[/attachment]


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Dennis Flynn
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#2
Quote: In my research into Irish history, particularly the conflicts with the Vikings, clontarf, Brian Boru, etc. I have come across a bunch of depictions of Irish warriors wearing a sort of apron-like cloth hanging down to about the knees and about a foot wide.
I hope you realise that this period lies outside the scope of this forum?:wink:

Quote: I've always taken the late Angus McBride as someone who does his homework on his pieces but you never know.
McBride could goof up as well. He once portrayed Brian Boru's son with a Late Roman Berkasovo helmet... Confusedhock:
Robert Vermaat
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FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#3
yes, I am well aware of the date exceeding this forums era, but I honestly didn't know where else to look. This forum has many intelligent and well informed people of whom I respect their input and opinions. As far as McBride, I know the picture of the Berkasovo helmet on an Irish warrior at the battle of clontarf. That always made me scratch my head and wonder what the hell was he thinking or did he have some reason to put it in there? I mean he should have been experienced enough in his work to know the difference between late roman military equipment and that of Irish warriors in the 11th century. However, I have seen these apron-like things in different depictions as well. I'm just wondering where it comes from.
Dennis Flynn
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#4
Hi Dennis

As an Irishman with a huge interest in history, I immediately wondered if the depiction is meant to be of the Irish tunic/kilt?

See attached link:

http://www.irishthunder.org/irish_kilt.htm

I know it's not quoting texts, but Irish families did wear kilt-like clothing. Perhaps that's what McBride was trying to depict?
Ben Kane, bestselling author of the Eagles of Rome, Spartacus and Hannibal novels.

Eagles in the Storm released in UK on March 23, 2017.
Aguilas en la tormenta saldra en 2017.


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#5
In the famous 17th century portrait of Sir Neil O'Neil (the one with the Japanese armor at his feet) he is wearing an apron of about the same design and proportions as in MacBride's illustrations. apparently it was some sort of Irish military thing, but whether it really went back to the early middle ages I can't say.
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#6
Ave!

Another really good information source is the Armour Archive, particularly threads such as this:

http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB2/v...hp?t=48035

http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB2/

The second post on that thread is by Saverio, "Da Man" for Irish medieval clothing. Hmm, old posts so many of the photos are gone, but still has useful links. But do a search on that board, particularly the Historical Research section, and you should turn up quite a bit of good stuff.

Angus McBride was an artist, not a researcher. He worked from the author's information, and was sometimes known to work so fast that there was no time to correct errors! Stick to the primary sources whenever possible.

All that said, I don't recall seeing that apron thingy before! Not that I've done a ton of research on Ireland of that era, but weird that I haven't run across it anyway. History's mysteries!

Matthew
Matthew Amt (Quintus)
Legio XX, USA
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.larp.com/legioxx/">http://www.larp.com/legioxx/
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#7
Thank you Matthew!!! From your links I was able to navigate through many sources and believe I have found at least one contemporary source for the apron like garment worn in the McBride illustrations and other modern depictions of Irish warriors from the 11th century. Here it is, the Shrine of St. Manchán. The shrine is contemporary to the era of Boru, 100 years give or take, and the image shows a group of laymen, most of whom are warriors underneath a cross. A chieftan is supposed to be depicted among them as well. Apparently the garment is known as a philibeg, and is refered to as a kilt by some, though I think it's just modern misinterperetation stemming from the romanticized idea that kilts were worn in Ireland and go back well before the 1600's and so the connection is made to anything resembling a kilt in ancient and medieval art. Though it is curious as to what these are, where the style came from and if, however unlikely, it had anything to do with the formation of the scottish kilt or 'belted plaid'. I do find it strange that you do not see these in earlier art or descriptions and certainly do not appear in later art and depictions, of which we have many from the 15th century on including effigies, carvings of galloglass, as well as descriptions by writers and wood cuts of kern. How such a garmet would appear, disappear and then suddenly appear in 17th century Scotland is quite a mystery, if such a connection exists at all....which I doubt. Anyways here is a picture of the shrine below. I am so friggin happy and excited to have finally tracked down this piece of information, now I have more questions and digging to do. Still I am happy to finally piece together an image of an 11th century Irish warrior....its a blurry image but an image nonetheless. Once again Thanks Matthew! I am very greatful! I've been looking for this kind of information for a long, long time. I appreciate your help. Thanks.

[attachment=69]IRISHAPRONTHINGYS.jpg[/attachment]


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Dennis Flynn
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#8
dang, the image is still kinda too small to see them in great detail. I downloaded a file of it onto my computer and the image is quite large. but I hope you all can see it well enough to make out each of the warriors so called "philibeg". All but two are wearing them, and the two without them appear to not only have no weapons but they also have their arms crossed and their facial hair is very different from the rest of the warriors. Instead of a regular beard, the two non combatants have beards protuding into an inverted V like formation under the chin. Perhaps depicting clergymen? I dunno, but a very interesting piece indeed.

P.S.- Oh yeah I almost forgot! I am glad to see Angus McBride's artwork vindicated......I cant believe some of you doubted him.....tsk tsk tsk.....shame on you..:lol: just kidding
Dennis Flynn
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#9
Wow, speaking of the McBride illustration showing an Irish warrior at the battle of clontarf, I just found another illustration portraying the same exact thing but by another artist. I'm familiar with the McBride painting and am sure this is definately another artists work. I assumed the artist simply copied McBrides paintings, complete with the apron like garment that is the subject of this thread. However I read that supposedly the Irish annals recorded that Boru's son and other noble warriors donned crested gold/silver helmets with precious stones and gems all over them. I guess the author who instructed McBrides illustration as well as this one felt that as no such helmet has been found in Ireland that perhaps a Berkasovo type helmet that we know was in use in Britain after the withdrawal of the Romans and into the so called "Arthurian" age, was the piece of armor that the bards described. From the description it does seem like the writer is depicting such a helmet, but since you cannot be 100% sure my hands are up in the air and I cannot say either way. Still......pretty interesting stuff. Oh yeah the above mentioned illustration is posted below.





[attachment=70]berksovhelm.jpg[/attachment]


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Dennis Flynn
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#10
Hi Dennis,
Quote:I assumed the artist simply copied McBrides paintings, complete with the apron like garment that is the subject of this thread.
I'm of the same opinion. I've seen this happen on more occasions, the influence of Angus McBride being what it was.
Quote:I guess the author who instructed McBrides illustration as well as this one felt that as no such helmet has been found in Ireland that perhaps a Berkasovo type helmet that we know was in use in Britain after the withdrawal of the Romans and into the so called "Arthurian" age, was the piece of armor that the bards described.
No way. Not over 5 centuries and without any evidence in art of such a thing. Even in Roman times the period of use was limited (guesses are they went out of fashion during the 5th c. or the early 6th, being replaced by spangenhelm-types.

The drawing is also wrong, it's not even a proper Barkasovo. That creast is enormous....
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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#11
I had an e-mail exchange which indicated that the apron was perhaps a Norse affectation. The following shows an illustration of Olaf of Norway from teh same source??

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2928225613/

http://www.beyond-the-pale.org.uk/zManchan.htm
Conal Moran

Do or do not, there is no try!
Yoda
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#12
Quote:yes, I am well aware of the date exceeding this forums era, but I honestly didn't know where else to look.

Hands down the best Celtic re-enactor forum out there is Kelticos

Armour Archive is ok, but they tend to have a ton SCAdians there and therefore their focus tends to be later than even 10th-11thC.
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Gobae - The Blacksmith
aka Dan Crowther
Ancient Celtic Clans
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#13
Vortigern- I agree with you, but I just am left scratching my head as to what the Irish bards were describing....then again a lot of their style is embellishing, so it could just be exaggerations or simply even made up.

Conal- Thanks for the pic! I was wanting to see an actual photograph of the shrine rather then the drawing I posted. The photo is much more detailed and is almost exactly what is shown in the McBride pics. I also found another source of these aprons in the book of Kells....its one of the first few pages and depicts Mary holding a baby Jesus with four angels surrounding them. The angel in the bottom right hand corner appears to be wearing the same apron like garment. I could be wrong but I don't know what else it could be, it is not his tunic, because his tunic is clearly blue and it isnt his robe because you can see the outlines of where it ends, not to mention it is a brownish color. The apron is somewhat similar in color but is more red, like a brick red with yellow/gold border and pattern going through its center. I'm trying to look through more manuscripts of the time to find more examples. I wasn't aware that the shrine mentioned earlier had any norse connection to it? I thought it was made in the 11th or 12th century AD and the story is that the church it was in had burned down, with everything inside and outside being utterly destroyed, all except the shrine and the locals thought it a miracle. Then it was taken somewhere "safe" where it stayed for hundreds of years. I'm not sure wether the fire was accidental or from war. Can you elaborate on the norse connection to it?
Dennis Flynn
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#14
@Vortigern/Robert....Hey, I looked into the painting above depicting the battle of clontarf and as it turns out the painting is similar to McBrides depictions because it IS McBride's work. At first glance it doesn't seem like his style but looking closely at the Irish warrior's face and the stylization of the warriors in the background then it becomes clear it is McBrides work. I read in the book though that it's his work, I am not going by the style of the image. Anyways, McBride gave both of his paintings of Clontarf Berkasovo helmets because the author must have told him to. The Irish cotemporary work "War of the Gaedhil with the Gael" says of the Irish warriors "they had on them also crested golden helmets set with sparkling transparent brilliant gems and precious stones on the heads of chiefs and royal knights". I'm guessing the author and artist at a loss for explanation as there has been no Irish helmets found looking anything remotely close to the description, must have gone with the only known helmet that fitted the description. It is known that the Irish chiefs and warriors picked armor that is more flashy or heroic than practical or protective. I think it's weird, because the Tain writes of Cuchulainn wearing a helmet described almost exactly the same way, but clearly the time period Cuchulainn is placed in is far older than the appearance of the Roman helmets that fit the description. Unless they were being written down during the time period of the helmets usage. I honestly don't know. I am totally confused as to the whole thing. I mean c'mon, Irish warriors wearing Berkasovo Roman helmets in the 11th Century? WTF? I mean it sounds waaay off but I don't know. What the hell are they describing then? Is it just imagination or creative description to add to the story? Or perhaps did some Irish chieftan use a captured Roman helmet from Britain or where ever his ancestors got it and was passed down as an heirloom? Still I find it doubtful because this description pops up in many more Irish works concerning mythic heroes as well as real life chronicles of Irish history. I being Irish find it very difficult and exhausting trying to put together an idea or detailed vivid image of how the Gaelic warriors appeared, as there is such little art and artifacts and descriptions that seem to describe completely different pieces of armor. I mean I just wish I had a time machine so I could go back and see firsthand...but until then I shall keep digging and reading and looking to find as much as I can to bring about a vivid picture of a medieval Gaelic warrior.
Dennis Flynn
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#15
I don't think this helmet is the only one that would fit the bill. I mean, even as Late Roman helmets go there's the Budapest helmet, also a ridge helmet, also with such 'jewels'(which they aren't, in fact this is glass and other non-precious stuff), but which is less spectacular than the brilliant crest of the Berkasovo II.

McBride also used it in Tim Newark's book about Celtic Warriors (also Brian Boru), another one from Tim Newark (Concord's Ancient Celts) on an Arthurian warrior and in David Nicolle's (Osprey MAA Arthur and the Anglo-Saxon Wars), in proper context this time. None of them a proper picture of the helmet, because he always used that silvery colour (where in fact it's gilded), plus he got the cheek plates wrong or oversized the crest. :-(

So in fact I don't think that McBride used this helmet because it fit the description, but because he liked the helmet so much! Big Grin
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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