Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Scottish Claymore

One of the most famous historical Scottish weapons is the Scottish Claymore, a double-edged sword with a blade around 41" in length with a possible reach of 60". It weighs around 5.5 lbs.The Gaelic term is "Claidhermh-mor". It is recorded to be in use as early as 1300 and still used as late as the 1700's.

Over the years a few changes occurred such as the twisted hilt that came about around 1500. Also adapted from the medieval style, is the two-handed claymore with a distinctive style of a cross-hilt with downward sloping arms. There are many different types of hilts and handles were in use. You can probably do a Google search for different examples.

Then came the Basket-Hilt Claymore broadsword, a one-handed sword with a shorter blade, which can either have a one-sided or double-sided edged blade. It weighs between 2-3 lbs. The basket hilt handle was designed to protect the hand during combat and often had a red velvet liner inside the basket. Some had decorative tassels on the hilt or pommel.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Beltie Galloway Cows

I first heard of the Beltie Cow in Liz Curtis Higgs' book, My Heart's in the Lowlands. I was fascinated by the sketch in the book. Before I had even finished reading it, I noticed real Beltie Cows while driving home from Charleston, SC. These cows are known to be from Scotland as Beltie Galloway Cows and have most recently earned the nickname of "Oreo Cows" in the US. They are typically black with a white belt around the middle. Some are brown with a white belt.

The white belt is a dominant trait in the herd and will often appear even if a Beltie Cow is crossbred with a different cow.
Their heritage allows them to survive in harsh climates having adapted to the poor upland pastures and windswept moorlands of Scotland, originating from Galloway. In 1997, western America suffered the "April Blizzard" resulting in great floods. As much as 21 feet of water resided in some places. While lots of animals, including horses and cows were lost, one breed withstood the flood, days without food, or rest from treading water--the Beltie Cows. Read the story here.

Their beef is exceptionally lean and flavorful. While most breeds of cows develop an extra layer of fat on their hide to protect them from the cold in winter, Beltie Cows grow an extra coat of hair rather than fat.

Here in North Carolina, you will find Beltie Cows at Fearrington Village, a quaint place settled on farmland dating back to 1770's in Chatham County, NC. This is an area of North Carolina that was surrounded by Scots-Irish immigrants and descendants for many generations. The small community is modeled after the villages of England. Fearrington Village offers a relaxing visit of dining, a beautiful country inn, shopping, historic gardens, and Beltie Cows.

For more information on Beltie Cows, visit the Belted Galloway Society of the United States.

The photos in this post are courtesy of Fearrington Village.