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  Leine and Brat

The early Scots migrated from the Iberian peninsula via Ulster (now Northern Ireland) to Scotland, arriving around 400 ce. They were a people who travelled around Europe and who settled in many areas. Their dress was in common with many ancient tribes, and consisted of a simple linen shirt, with a blanket as overcoat.

The shirt was called a Léine (lay-na) by the Ulster Scots and by the Highlanders, but later references to it by Lowland Scots has it as a Sark (Lallans for Shirt). While women wore them longer, men wore them to the knee, and warriors wore them even higher, sometimes above the waste. In later times, a short jacket was added over the top, and short trews are also seen, with a plaid (blanket) over the top for full weather protection.

The Brat was effectively a blanket, and was worn over the shoulder and fixed with a brooch if the wearer were of high enough status. Some archaeological finds show a rough pin was simply pushed through the cloth to hold it on place.

The Léine and Brat are almost identical to the toga and cloak of the ancient Romans, Greeks, Celts and other Europeans of ancient times. They derive from a common ancestry and form a common basis for the evolution of ancient and modern dress in many cultures.

In his 'History of Greater Scotland' (1521), John Major describes the Scots - 'from the middle of the thigh to the foot they have no covering for the leg, clothing themselves with a mantle instead of an upper garment and a shirt dyed with saffron'.

Lucas de Heere, an illustrator working around 1577, shows a Scots warrior with a very short shirt and jacket, over which he wore a brat. Here, someone has added a line to imply he was not naked to the groin.

The Scots word for Brat in more recent times is Plaid, and is derived from a term for pleated or folded, and forms the basis for the next step in dress evolution, the Belted Plaid or Great Kilt (Féileadh Mor - pron. Philamore).