Scottish warrior tradition


"There’s an important difference between history and tradition. Both are ways of seeing and presenting our collective past, but tradition is not bound to comply with either objectivity or historical accuracy"(BS Historian). In the early history of Scotland, warriors' tradition was a way of life. The only question was if you were going to have your own people fight or, in the case of King Robert Bruce in 1316, use mercenaries called Gallowglasses to fight for you ("BBC Northern Ireland"). Scottish warriors, like the ladies from hell, are still known for their aggressive warrior traditions and their skills on the battlefield. Scottish warrior traditions date back from the early Pictish warriors to the "Ladies from Hell". Scottish warrior tradition has evolved and is still practiced today.

"Ladies from Hell" (20th C. Kilted regiments of Scotland) - Mikhaila T. A4

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The kilted regiments of the British Army; the Black Watch, Gordon Highlanders, the Argyll and Sutherland, and the Seaforth Highlanders; were all given the nickname “ladies from hell” by the German army during WWI as an insult (W). However, much to the Germans disappointment the regiments took the nickname given to them as a compliment. The nickname was viewed as a sign of recognition by the kilted regiments (W). For instance, in modern day the Black Watch holds the name as a badge of honor (Barbossa).The reason behind the name is that during battle these warriors would use valiant and fearsome scare tactics. By sending fear into their opponents victory can, if not easily, be achieved.

During World War I, they are known to have used fierce bayonet charges (Barbossa). For instance, the 9th, 4th, and 5th Battalions of the Black Watch regiment in 1917 courageously fought the German offense in France one battle after another from March to April until their enemy's offense was exhausted ("Black Watch"). Then in September of the same year the 1st Battalion successfully fought off the last fortified trench system, the Hindenburg Line ("Black Watch"). From WWI to the Korean War and beyond the Black Watch regiment proceeded to fight ferociously despite the numerious casualties met. But it was not just this kilted regiment that fought so, but the others stated in the beginning as well. In conclusion the "ladies from Hell" use a unique battling technique that lead them to be the most distinguish regiments amoungst the British Army (Barbossa). From their early history to modern day the kilted warriors carry on their traditions.

Below is a music dedicated to the "Ladies from Hell" please enjoy.

The Picti and the Kingdom of the Picts - Teresa C. B1

The Picts of Scotland were called the blue people after painting themselves with woad.

A depiction of Saint Columba from about 565AD, urging Picts on Iona to become Christians.
A depiction of Saint Columba from about 565AD, urging Picts on Iona to become Christians.

The Latin word Picti first occurs in a panegyric written by Eumenius in AD 297 and is taken to mean "painted or tattooed people" (Lewis). The Picts were a combination of tribes who lived in the eastern and north eastern regions of Scotland during late 1000 AD (Wilde). The Picts have been looked upon as puzzling savages who fought off Rome's army before strangely disappearing from history (Johnston). But far from the primitive warriors of popular imagination, they actually built a highly sophisticated culture, which outdid their Anglo-Saxon rivals in many ways (Johnston). Their first written mention of them was by the Roman orator Eumenius in 297 AD, who mentioned them attacking Hadrian’s Wall (Wilde). The Picts who fought in that battle were described as tall and fair headed by the Romans ("Pictish Nation"). The Picts were known to be fierce tenacious fighters; they stopped the northern advance of the Roman Empire in addition to other invaders ("Our Family"). They were also noted for their fighting horsemanship, as well as their ability to endure cold, hunger, and hardship ("Our Family"). By the seventh century the Pictish tribes had merged together into a region known as, "Pictland", that included a varying number of sub kingdoms. Christian missionaries completed the conversion of Pictland in the 7th century ("Pictish Nation"). Although the Britons of southern Scotland and then the Northumbrian church played a part in this process, the Celtic Church of Saint Columba and his successors proved the most influential and successful ("The Picts").

A video about the Picts:

The Border Reivers ; Steel Bonnets - Brian O. A4


The Border Reivers were
a group of people from either side of the English/Scottish border that raided and terrorized inhabitants of border villages. Rather than being a distinct separate group of people, the border reivers consisted of all kinds of different people from society. Farmers, workers, people of the town…even clerics (!) classified as reivers. (McBride) This is because the Border Reiving Lifestyle was just that. It was a lifestyle, not an occupation. Villages along the border between England and Scotland were so distant from the governing areas of the both states, that there was little to no control over the people of the border. It was a free-for-all of sorts among the inhabitants of the border-lying towns.
Like many great groups of the militaristic variety, the Border Reivers had a nickname: The “Steel Bonnets” Or the “Steill Bonnets” as the Scots language would allow it to be spelled according the Germanic root. (Douglas) “The Steel Bonnets” was a nickname indicative of the armory of the Border Reivers. The border reivers wore steel hats shaped in the form of a bonnet. ("James of Glencarr")
In sixteen hundreds Scotland, the Border Reivers had developed a societal system like no other. It was a ruthless anarchic system in which normal members of the community were forced to attach and steal from other clans. One legend of the Border Reivers is that when a family ran out of food, the wife serve a plate with a pair of spurs on it. This symbolized the motivation of the wife toward the man of the family to go out and steal from other clans. (McBride)This warrior-based lifestyle is characteristic of the Steel Bonnets. The Steel Bonnets could be likened to a society much like the Greek Spartans or the historic Mongols of east Asia. ("Ri Fhionngaill")

Gallowglasses - Kim T. B1

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Gallowglasses is the Anglicized version of the Gaelic word ‘gallóglaigh’ which meant ‘young foreign warriors’ ("BBC Northern Ireland"). They originated in the Highlands of Scotland ("Articlesbase"). First appearing as military regiments in the 13th century, the gallowglasses were elite tribal mercenaries who were a large part of Gaelic armies (The Lordship of the Isles). The Thirty Years War was their last appearance in a major European conflict (The Lordship of the Isles). When someone wanted the aid of these mercenaries they would sit down and negotiate a contract of some sort, like one gallowglass for one eighth of a piece of land and two cows ("BBC Northern Ireland").
The Gallowglasses had a pro fighter's build and fought with a battle axe or a halberd (Mabillard). Each mercenary would have two people with him, squires that would cook the meals and maintain the equipment ("Articlesbase"). As previously stated, the contract that allowed the use of these fighters would usually have a price of land attached to it. Surprisingly these fields would be used for farming and if someone adds up the many Gallowglasses that were used in war, that's a lot of land ("Articlesbase"). In fact, so much land was acquired that Clans were formed such as Gallogly, McDonald, MacDowell, and MacSweeney ("Articlesbase").

Lilliard, The Warrior Maid - Diamond S. B1

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Fair maiden Lilliard
lies under this stane
little was her stature
but muckle was her fame
upon the English loons
she laid monie thumps
and when her legs were cuttit off
she fought upon her stumps.

Maid Lilliard was from Maxton, a town that in 1544 was attacked by the English, killing many people in her town (Malloy). She was a great and noble Scottish hero who fought at the Battle of Ancrum Moor in one of their last victories over the English forces. It's said that Maid Lilliard was one of the bravest of the Scottish female warriors and a fine fighter, she fought beside her mates ( Apparently she could do things with a bow and arrow that could literally poke your eye out (Malloy). Naturally her uncle Kublai, wanted her to be happy so he tried to get her to marry. Lilliard, however, seemed to like fighting and wasn’t interested in domestic chores or marriage. During battle she lost her legs, but had the world’s first prosthesis made to replace her limb ( The false leg was made of iron so she sat a little unbalanced on her horse but nevertheless she carried on battling, that's what she knew best. After her husband was killed when the English attacked at Ancrum Moor, it made Lilliard angry (Malloy). She attacked back, and set out to kill the English commander, and succeeded ( After that period, she was open to her uncle's offer of marriage, but she stated she would only marry according to the following of these simple rules (Malloy). If and only if any man who could wrestle her and win would be able to claim her as his bride ( Any man who lost had to give her 100 horses. Princess Lilliard ended her life unmarried and left with 10,000 horses, losing her own life later in the battle. The famous bridge "Lillian Edge" was named in her honor for that very noble accomplishment ( Lilliard, the Warrior Maid had the strength of a man, and always showed that with great pride. But needless to say, many men wanted her but couldn't compete with her great nobility and independence.

Work Cited

"100% Home Grown History." BBC Northern Ireland. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

"A History of the Gallowglass in Ireland." Articlesbase. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Jun 2011. <>.

"Chronologic History of Female Warriors, Commanders and Duelists (Female Single Combat Club)." Клуб Женских Единоборств / Female Single Combat Club. Fscclub, 28 Feb. 2010. Web. 29 May 2011.

Douglas, Sheilla, Dr. "The Scots Language and its European Roots." Edictorial. The Scots Language Center. SLC A K Bell Library, n.d. Web. 4 June 2011.

Emperor Barbossa. "The Scottish Highland Regiments." All Empires; Online history community.

"First World War." The Black Watch. The Black Watch, n.d. Web. 4 Jun 2011.

"gallowglasses." The Lordship of the Isles. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Jun 2011. <>.

James of Glencarr. A Border Reiver's Steel Helmet. 17 Apr. 2011. JPEG file.

James of Glencarr. "The Border Reivers." Clan James. N.p., 17 Apr. 2011. Web. 4 June 2011.

Johnston, Ian. "The Truth about the Picts." The Independent. 6 Aug. 2008. Web. <
Lewis, Charlton T., and Charles Short. "Pingo." Web.

Mabillard, Amanda. Macbeth Glossary. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. (04 June 2011) <http://www.shakespeare->.

"Maid Lilliard - Great Women." Great Women - A Fanfare of Fabulous Females. Web. 30 May 2011.

"Malloy, Judy P. "Maid Lilliard." The WELL - the Birthplace of the Online Community Movement. Web. 01 June 2011.

McBride, Angus. "Border Reivers." Scottland's Kings and Queens. N.p.n.d. Web. 4 june 2011.

"Our Family Origins in Scotland." Ancestor-Rescue Home Page. Web. <>.

Pictish Nation. Web. 02 June 2011.

Ri Fhionngaill. "Re: Border Reivers vs. Mongols." Historum. N.P., 22 Apr. 2010. Web. 4 June 2011.

"The Ladies from Hell." The BS Historian.

"The Last Fifty Years ." The Black Watch. The Black Watch, n.d. Web. 4 Jun 2011.

The Picts - Pictish Culture." Scottish History, Tartan, Clans, Music, Food. Web. 02 June 2011.

W . "The ladies from Hell." Scotland and the Great War . Blogger, 01/12/2010. Web. 2 Jun 2011.
Wilde, Robert. "Picts - A Profile of the Picts." European History – The History of Europe. Web. 03 June 2011.

Related Links

1."Hunt Recruits Here With kilted Pipers." The New York times, 11/7/1917. Web. 4 Jun 2011.
2.Lambert ní Dhoireann, Kym. "The Shadowy Painted People?."Picts 2004: n. pag. Web. 4 Jun 2011. <>.
3."GalloGlass." Celtic Britain. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Jun 2011. <>.