Scottish Claymores: Made in Scotland?

Sword-making in the 15th and 16th centuries in the context of recent archaeological evidence

Braveheart’s claymore; was it “made in Scotland” or in the Continent?


Despite a long tradition in iron making in Scotland, it has been assumed that already from the 1400’s most sword blades have been produced in Europe and imported en mass into Scotland, only their hilts being made locally. This long standing assumption has been put to the test when permission was granted to sample and examine chemically and metallographically 15th and 16th century swords and daggers from the collection of the Glasgow and Ayr Museums. The aim of this project is to examine the possibility that the blades themselves could have in fact been “made in Scotland”. A combination of art historical criteria, chemical and mineralogical analyses of bloomery mounds/furnaces in Scotland as well as chemical and metallographic investigation of the blades themselves suggest– but not necessarily conclude- a likely local production at least for some of them. This suggestion is corroborated by the well established Highland tradition of clan smiths, hereditary smiths to other clans.


For further information, click here (Photos-Jones 2001).



The "Whitelaw" claymore c1530 (GM4, Reg. No. 1940.45.hj, Whitelaw Collection).

 With the kind permission of Glasgow Museums.