Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Balmoral (1)

Closely related to the beret, and possibly a descendant of it, is the Balmoral bonnet. The Balmoral dates back to at least the 16th century when it was a soft, knitted wool cap with a voluminous, flat crown, traditionally blue in colour, sometimes with a diced band (usually red-and-white check) around the lower edge and with a coloured toorie (pom-pom) set in the middle of the crown.
The name 'Balmoral' as applied to this traditional head dress appears to date from the late 19th century. Today, the crown of the bonnet is smaller, made of finer cloth and tends to be blue or Lovat green. Tapes in the band originally used to secure the bonnet tightly are sometimes worn hanging from the back of the cap. It can have a regimental or clan badge worn on the left hand side with the bonnet usually worn tilted to the right to display these emblems. The Balmoral  was adapted into the Caubeen by Irish Forces and military forces around the world have worn it and referred to it simply as a 'beret.'

There is no hard evidence, but I've come across a number of sources that claim the origins of the Balmoral actually lie in the Basque Country (a theory that doesn't necessarily go down well with all Scotsmen); the theory is that Basque fishermen, on their way to their fishing and whales grounds off Newfoundland, introduced their berets to Scotsmen who adopted it, and added  their regalia to it. 

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