IRISH WARRIORS

An extract from Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066
by Ian Heath


[Based on an Irish warrior in short trews in The Book of Kells, c.800AD] [Based on an Irish warrior in long trews in The Book of Kells, c.800AD]
38 & 39.      IRISH WARRIORS

These represent lower-class warriors whose costume traditionally consisted of trews and jacket. The tight-fitting trews were either knee-length or ankle-length with a strap under the instep. Leather or cloth gaiters of some description were sometimes worn but shoes, although known in Ireland, rarely were and then only by chieftains. The jacket, called an inar, was waist-length with either full or three-quarter length sleeves or none at all. It could be open-fronted or closed with a brooch or pin or, by the 11th century, with buttons. Cloaks were also worn, that of 39 being a shorter campaigning variety of the brat. One mid-10th century king equipped his 1,000 followers with cloaks of leather, perhaps as a form of armour.

An 8th century law states that lower classes should wear yellow, white and black, though the Book of Kells shows a lower-class warrior in blue and green, and red is known to have been worn. Otherwise clothing was of natural or bleached wool and linen.

Arms consisted of small javelins or darts, usually 2 or 3, and the short, broad sword, the claideb. Sometimes a thrusting spear (gae, sleg or manais) or a light throwing spear (bir or foga) was carried in addition, the thrusting spear often with a pointed iron ferrule; shafts appear to have been of hazel and could be decorated with rivets or nails. The small shield was of wood and leather or plain hide. Bosses were often of brass or bronze but were otherwise of iron.



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