Exhibit Home About the Exhibit Credits Traveling Exhibit Contact Us JPPM Home
Buckles-Archaeologists recover a lot of buckles from Maryland’s colonial sites, though it is not always possible to tell exactly what they were used for. This page features buckles from Maryland that resemble those worn by the men in the Outlander series. Some were for sword belts or shoulder straps, while others are too generic to define, but together they show how the buckles worn in Outlander compare to the real thing. (Image of a Scottish soldier: Scottish soldiers used a lot of buckles to fasten the various belts and shoulder straps that carried their weapons. This print of Farquar Shaw, a member of the Highland Regiment of 1743, shows him carrying a musket, bayonet, pistol, dirk, sword, sporran, and munitions bag, all of which hang on his belt or buckled straps (detail).© Trustees of the British Museum. Images of Decorated strap buckle and plain strap buckle:Decorated Strap Buckle, Date: ca. 1690-1730, Site Name: Addison Plantation, Site Number: 18PR175/9754; Plain Strap Buckle, Date: ca. 1670-1770, Site Name: Horne Point, Site Number: 18DO58/145 - These strap buckles are representative of generic buckles found frequently on colonial sites in Maryland. They are cast in one piece and are relatively flat. That means that the straps they fastened had to be soft enough to bend around the center axis without putting too much stress on the buckle. Straps were typically made of leather or woven linen tape, though some fine velvet and embroidered items also fastened with buckles. These buckles could be used on a number of useful goods such as belts, horse bridles, saddlebags, and trunks. Image of a Heavy-duty strap buckle: Heavy-Duty Strap Buckle, Date: ca. 1675-1700, Site Name: Charles’ Gift, Site Number: 18ST704/925 - The difference between this strap buckle and the others shown here (top left) is that the center axis of the buckle is recessed and has a thick circular cross section for strength. This design allowed the buckle to accommodate a thicker strap, such as one made with multiple layers of stitched leather. That could mean that this buckle was used on horse harness, though the size and shape are also appropriate for a heavy-duty belt. Image of ring buckle:Ring Buckle, Date: ca. 1689-1711, Site Name: King’s Reach, Site Number: 18CV83/548 - This circular ring buckle looks like the kind of thing that the Scots in Outlander  would wear to fasten their plaid at the shoulder, but this particular buckle is quite small — only about 1.6” inches in diameter — so it is too small to hold bulky wool garments.  The buckle is more likely to be from a belt, though other kinds of straps cannot be ruled out. The iron ring that makes this buckle is circular in cross section, as well as in its overall shape, and it would have been very strong. Ring buckles such as this seem to have fallen out of favor after the 17th century in Maryland. Images of wide strap buckles:Wide Strap Buckles, Date: ca. 1750-1780, Site Name: Ft. Frederick, Site Number: 18WA20, Lot 47 (Left), Lot 400 (Center & Right) - These are fragments of buckles that were all cast in one piece, with the center bar along the longest axis of the buckle instead of the short axis. This form is consistent with buckles used for belts and shoulder straps that held weapons such as swords, bayonets, firearms, and ammunition bags. All three of these buckles were recovered at Ft. Frederick, which was built between 1756 and 1758. There were never any battles at Ft. Frederick, but it was home to soldiers during  both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, so these 18th-century buckles were probably lost during one of those two conflicts.Image of a shoulder belt buckle:Shoulder Strap Buckle, Date: ca. 1711-1754, Site Name: Smith’s St. Leonard, Site Number: 18CV91/270 - The proportions of this long skinny buckle fragment indicate that it was for a wide shoulder belt that was used in the 18th century to carry things such as swords, bayonets, and ammunition pouches.  This buckle comes from a private plantation, not a military site, but that is not unusual. Successful Maryland planters would have known that swords were essential accessories for gentlemen, and they also would have carried weapons for protection, hunting, and militia service.