Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Blue Bonnets

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

BLUE BONNETS (J8x32) 2C (4C set) RSCDS Book 3

1- 8 1L+2M Adv&Ret and dance DoSiDo
9-16 1M+2L Adv&Ret and dance DoSiDo
17-24 1s lead down the middle and back
25-32 1s+2s dance Poussette. 2 1

(MINICRIB, Dance Crib compiled by Charles Upton, Deeside Caledonian Society, and his successors)


Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams


Dance Instruction Videos

Blue Bonnets - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

The blue bonnet was a type of soft woollen hat that for several hundred years was the customary working wear of Scottish labourers and farmers.

Although a particularly broad and flat form was associated with the Scottish Lowlands, where it was sometimes called the "scone cap", the bonnet was also worn in parts of northern England and became widely adopted in the Highlands.

The characteristic blue bonnet was knitted in one piece from a thick wool, dyed with woad, and felted to produce a water resistant finish. Strings were often sewn around the inner edge, allowing a close fit around the brow, whilst the top was worn pulled into a broad circle. The typical Lowland man's bonnet was large and worn flat, overhanging at the front and back and sometimes ornamented with a small tuft or red worsted "cherry", while in the Highlands the fashion was for a smaller, plain bonnet, sometimes peaked at the front.

The bonnet's construction made it an extremely practical piece of clothing in Scotland's damp, cool climate. The flat shape formed an effective brim against the weather, could be pulled down ("scrugged") in various directions for additional cover, pulled over the ears for warmth, or folded and put in a pocket. It could also be removed and used as a pocket or bag in its own right. The felted wool helped protect the wearer against rain, and could be easily wrung dry.

It was the bonnet's blue colour, as well as, perhaps, its Lowland and peasant origins, that influenced its adoption as a badge of the Covenanters, who used blue to distinguish themselves from their Royalist opponents and their red cockades and ribbons. Despite its earlier association with the Covenanters, adorned with a white cockade the blue bonnet was also adopted as an emblem of Jacobitism.

The association was reinforced by later nostalgic Jacobite songs, such as Blue Bonnets Over The Border - Song, set down (and possibly written) by Sir Walter Scott, who himself affected to wear a bonnet in later life.

Also, the flowers of Succisa pratensis, is locally called the "blue bonnet" in Scotland.

Blue Bonnets Over The Border Song - Information Video

Blue Bonnets Painting Image
Two Lowland Shepherds Of The 18th Century, Wearing Variations On The Blue Bonnet
"The Craigy Bield" (sheltered crag), by David Allan (1744-1796)

Blue Bonnet Painting Image
Lord George Murray (1694-1760), Author Unknown, c. 18th Century


Dance Information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence.
Text from this original Blue Bonnet (Hat) article on Wikipedia.
Upper Image Copyright (cropped) David Allan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Lower Image Copyright Unknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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