© Moray Firth Gansey Project June 2018

This project was part-financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and by the Scottish Government and The European Community Rural Aberdeenshire, Highland and Moray LEADER 2007 – 2013 Programmes.

Two Lewis Ganseys

This photograph was loaned to us by Cathy McGilvray.  It shows her grandfather and his brother, fishermen from Lewis: George Beaton standing, Nial Beaton sitting.  Date unknown, probably pre WWI.  

George was a POW for 2 years at the end of WWI. Cathy’s mother was his eldest child, born in 1920.  

Both ganseys are dark coloured, and patterning on both includes tree of life and diamonds, but the ganseys are quite different. As we don’t have the actual ganseys we have not attempted to chart the patterns.  The descriptions are gleaned from the photograph.  

Click on the small photographs below to see more detail.

George’s gansey

Lower body is ribbed, probably up to start of gusset.  The patterned area above this is divided into vertical panels, with moss stitch rib seeding in between.   Three vertical patterned panels are visible above this in the centre, and there looks to be another panel at each side, hidden by the braces.  There is a band of shallow open diamonds between the rib and the main pattern area – two in the centre and probably 3 each side of these at the front and probably the same at the back.  The central pattern panel has two 7 branch tree of life patterns side by side over the central diamonds, then a large diamond with three diamonds nested within it, and then a repeat of these two patterns.  The panels either side of the centre have alternating filled and double diamonds; six diamonds altogether.  The ribbed neckline comes halfway up the neck and has four pearl buttons at the centre front.  There is a shoulder strap, but the pattern is not clear.  There are three bands of three ridges partway down the upper arm.  The sleeves are wrist length, with ribbed cuffs.  The rib throughout looks like single rib.

Nial’s gansey

Ribbed welt, just showing above his trousers.  There is a band of zig zags between the rib and the main pattern.  Patterned area above this is divided into vertical panels with moss stitch rib seeding in between – again it looks as if there are 5 sections.  The central panel has a herring net diamond pattern, three diamonds wide.  There is patterning within the diamonds – the diamonds in the outer rows seem to have filled in diamonds inside them; the centre row has a smaller patterned area.  Either side of the centre is a column of 9 branch tree of life.  Outside this, just visible on the right shoulder, there appears to be a column of large open diamonds with a triple border.  The neck is slightly higher than George’s, and looks as if it might be doubled over inside.  It has five, or possibly six buttons at centre front.  There is a shoulder strap, but again the pattern is not clear. There does not appear to be any patterning on the sleeves.  The sleeves are wrist length with ribbed cuffs.  All of the ribbing seems to be single rib.

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