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An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, volume 1
by Ian Heath


This figure, depicting Bricius MacFingone, a MacKinnon chieftain, is taken from one of a large number of such tomb effigies dating between about 1350-1550 that are to be found scattered throughout West Highland churchyards. All show virtually identical equipment, comprising a bascinet with a deep mail coif and a quilted aketon, with occasional items of plate armour such as couters, or the greaves and poleyns apparently worn by this figure. A source of 1521 describes the aketon as 'a linen garment manifoldly sewed and painted or daubed with pitch (for waterproofing), with a covering of deerskin.'

Most are depicted armed with spear and sword, but occasionally an axe appears in place of the spear. The swords are single-handed weapons girded at the waist rather than 2-handed claymores, which only first appeared in the late-15th or early-16th century. The characteristic hilt of the Highland sword can be seen here, comprising lobated pommel, sharply downward-angled quillons, and short tongues or langets.
[Based on The Effigy of Bricius MacFingone, Iona, 14th century]

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