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Historic Attire


I addition to hiking, I am also a historical reenactor for several periods of American History.

I belong to several groups that are characterized as "hardcore". We invest a great deal of time an effort to ensure that our reproductions are accurate, and only wear and use what the people of the period would have.

For the past several years I have spent weekends reenacting American Civil War soldiers on campaign. We wore wool uniforms, ate hardtack & salt pork, and carried everything we needed. For example, next March I will spend a week on "campagin" in Louisiana marching approximately 100 miles in full kit with no modern intrusions.

I was wondering if there is any good research regarding what pilgrims of various eras would have worn and carried during their Camino. I've seen some pictures of people in historic attire, and wanted to know if there is more that can be learned and done.

I'm not hoping to do an entire Camino from SPPP to Santiago in full attire, but perhaps a few days could be an intersting experience.
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I quite value your interest in and commitment to re-enacting historical situations.

But, with special regards to the Camino, I believe you are going astray.

The Camino Santiago, unlike the comparatively short American Civil War, was for over a thousand years yet and still IS. Therefore, in my opinion there is no notable and especially no single genuine 'historical' attire. If ever, there were thousand different ones of them in the long past, and I hope, thousands more to come in a very long future.

We all know the pictures and scultpures along the Camino, this guy with the stick and the hat and the scallop on the brim of it, and I accept is as a great marketing image, but I think it is not the genuine thing, and should not be burnedin as a kind of uniform. Also this guy with the donkey, what does he signify, 'I am the true pilgrim!' -Bollocks. 'The Venetian' on the Las Vegas Strip is as 'historic' as him.

I accept that todays pilgrims may look very different in their present attire and appearance. But as long as they pursue the same spirit and objective as the pilgrims of old, and as long as they show the scallop shell, I call their attire 'historic' too.

'Historic' is for me when a thing is gone for good, and is to be transfixed in memory in a certain way. That should not be done with the Camino yet.

The Camino still IS, and certainly WILL BE. Quite possible, in a thousand years from now, they will depict pilgrims from 2006 and call their -our- attire 'historic'.
Though, I may be wrong.



Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
What a wonderful interest you have! It must be quite exciting to get into the spirit of a different era.
I read somewhere that no less than four Popes proscribed the pilgrim dress:
A broad brimmed hat, long woollen cloak, a scrip (type of satchel) and a staff.
There is a wonderful little museum in Sant Palais, the Musee de la Basse-Navarre, which includes the museum of pilgrimage established by a Dr Clemet Urruitbenhety. He has devoted most of his adult lif to researching pilgrimage artifacts.
There is also an excellent museum in St Jean with 'pilgrims' in medieval garb.
Even the museum in Santiago includes cloth, basketware, agricultural implements etc thought to be typical of those used in medieval times.
I don't think it will be too difficult to find someone with a similar interest who has probably researched the subject of pilgrim dress.

These words were written by Sir Walter Raleigh when imprisoned in the Tower of London the night before his execution on a trumped-up charge of treason. He actually languished there for thirteen more years but was beheaded in 1618.

Give me my scallop shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation,
My gown of glory, hope's true gage,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

Good luck with your search!
It's not just a question of which age you consider 'historic' to be, there's also the question of social standing. In medieval times, the garb of the king or bishop en route to Santiago will have borne little resemblance to that of the common people. I'd guess that most modern people would be pretty appalled if they came face to face with a medieval peasant, especially one who'd been on the road for a while! See how far you can walk in the sort of footwear a medieval peasant would have been likely to have worn!

As for the scallop shell, historically, that was something you wore on your way back as a sign that you had been to the shrine of St James. Wearing one on the way to Santiago is a very modern idea.


Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Hello JustRob,

I've had fun surfing for pilgrims clothing - here are a few sites to set you off. ... ;read=5086

For a picture of the pilgrim mantle: ... l/3632.htm

The German National Museum: Pilgrim clothing

Clothing in the Middel Ages:

And books:

Clothing in the Middle Ages. (The Medieval World).
Lynne Elliot.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2004.
32 pp., pbk. & cl., $9.86 (pbk.), $20.76 (RLB).
ISBN 0-7787-1383-0 (pbk.), ISBN 0-7787-1351-2 (RLB).

Subject Headings:
Clothing and dress-History-Medieval, 500-1500.
Civilization, Medieval.

Have fun!
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