Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Monday, August 31, 2020

5 Things You Might Not Have Guessed About Highland Warriors by Eliza Knight

Being a history nerd, doing research for my books is A LOT of fun. I often get sucked down paths that don’t have anything to do with my story. Along the way, I’ve found a few fun things you might not have guessed about Highland warriors. 


  1. Scots fought for hundreds of years against the English, but maybe it wasn't such common knowledge that clans would often switch sides. Or perhaps, you might have known that but thought it was only for money or land. Many clans ended up switching sides during a battle, because of a vendetta. The chief of the MacDougall Clan for example was married to a relative of a the English king's "choice" for the Scots throne (his puppet). The “puppet” was murdered in a church by Robert the Bruce.  Many were appalled that Bruce would do such a thing, violating sanctuary, but didn't take into consideration that Bruce did this partly to avenge his wife, daughter, sisters and a countess who helped crown him, after they were taken from a church and held hostage, two of them hung in cages outside castles (his sister and the countess)... It was so brutal back then! During the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, the Fraser Chief, also known as "the Fox" was famous for switching sides. There is a lot of blame placed on these two-faced leaders for what inevitably happened to the Scots during the Battle of Culloden.
  2. Kilts weren’t called kilts until the 1700’s. Before that, they were referred to as belted plaids. On the same note, tartans. In fact, specific colors in tartans weren’t a common thing until much later than the medieval period as well. Most plaids were neutral tones of brown and green.
  3. Most warriors would fight in their shirts only (which did reach mid-thigh), removing their plaids before charging into battle. 
  4. Their national animal is a unicorn—to this day. This means unicorns must exist, right? Scotland is steeped in myth and lore, so it’s no wonder their national animal would be such a majestic creature.
  5. Even the Vikings were weary of Highlanders. When they set sail to plunder they were warned that the natives were dangerous, their weather was deadly and their language incomprehensible. The trip, they were told, was worth it, if they were willing to risk their head!


Oh, to have been a fly on the wall… Researching for my books, and then living history through my characters is pretty much like time-travel, don’t you think? The amazing thing about exploring history, beyond the rabbit-hole fun, is that I always find golden nuggets of record that mesh well with my plot, enhancing the storyline and bringing it all to life. I get to add a sense of realism to the characters and their stories, which I think makes the adventures I pen all the more appealing. Well, that and hot Highland heroes. So, that said, you'll find a little bit of "the Fox" in my latest release The Rebel Wears Plaid.


So, what did you think? Did you know them all? Have a few surprises?


Thanks so much for letting me share some fun facts with you all! Happy Kilt Reading <3

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