Long Socks
Throughout the history of Scotland, there have been many facts that have been obscured by the
mists of time. The easiest of the questions to answer is what does a true Scotsman wear under his kilt? The answer to this is to just look, that is if you can handle the consequences that may follow such a search, especially if said search has been unannounced or uninvited. 

The hardest to answer of the common questions, is why does a true Scotsman wear knee high socks? The answer to this also may shed some light on why the Thistle is the national flower of  Scotland. To answer this question, we must go back to the late 13th century in and around the year 1296. Edward I, King of England after deposing of King Balliol, had started a terrifying campaign  to bring all of Scotland under his control. Edward, also known as Longshanks, was also fighting in the Holy Wars and had little time to do much of the fighting in Scotland himself. Because of this, he found it necessary to enlist the aid of mercenaries to help in fighting the war with the Scots. Of  the mercenaries Edward used most was a Danish King called Long Soccs. 

With the English constantly attacking from the South and the Mercenaries from the East and the West, the Scots found it necessary to keep small bands of men on constant patrol along the coast to give early warning in the event of a attack. Early one morning, one such band of men was keeping watch north of Edinburgh, just a few miles from Kirkcaldy. They had made their camp in the middle of a large patch of thistle to help safe guard them while they slept. Just as the sun broke over the horizon, one of the Scots sounded the alarm. Hundreds of Danish mercenaries with their king Long Soccs were coming ashore. The Danes were armed with every type of weapon and armor that could be carried in their boats. The Scots however were armed with not much more than their swords and their long kilts, many of them without shoes or socks. The Danes protected by their chain mail leggings bashed their way through the thistle to the waiting swords of the brave band of Scots. The fighting ensued for hours, ending with the Danes making a hasty retreat through the thistle. The Scots knowing the Danes must not be allowed to retreat and form up for another attack chased after them carrying the fevered battle into the thickest bog of thistle. Undaunted by the terrible wounds they received from the thistle, the valiant Scots carried the battle all the way to the waiting boats of the few remaining Danes. As the badly beaten Danes made their escape, the Scots, holding up branches from the thistle plants, cheered and shouted from the once more pristine shore of Scotland, "How can you beat us if thisíll stop ye?"

As the proud Scots marched back to their camp, one of the younger men was overheard saying that he wished he had some of those Long Soccís things that the Danes were wearing to protect his legs. Now you may be thinking that is why Scotsmen wear long socks, but youíre wrong. The reason that we wear long socks is because of what happened next.

After the battle the men made their way back to their homes for food and to have their wounds tended to. The news of the battle had reached King Edward before long and he was furious. He was so enraged by the defeat of his mercenaries that he sent hundreds of English soldiers to hunt down and kill the band of Scots who were now known as the Defenders of Kirkcaldy. In their wounded condition, the Defenders of Kirkcaldy were no match for the fresh well-trained troops of King Edward I and were hunted down and killed on sight. Any man seen with wounds or bandages on his legs was killed without question. The remaining Defenders of Kirkcaldy took to wearing their wives long socks to hide their wounds. In short time, all of the men in the area started doing the same to help confuse the English Troops. English soldiers were fair fighters, but not terribly smart, so this plan worked long enough for the Defenders of Kirkcaldy to slip away from the English to safety.

So this is why Scotsmen wear long socks, not to hide their legs or to stay warm, but to show support of Scotsmen around the world. You may find this story a little hard to believe, but wear your socks for support anyway. And besides, it still helps confuse the English.

 [Back to Stories Page]