Basket types

There are many types of baskets traditionally used in Scotland and associated with traditional ways of life. In this section we have featured some that were commonly used at one time in different parts of Scotland at.

A note on basket names

We have found during our research that some baskets were referred to by different names in different museums and archives, or depending on who we were were talking to. At the same time a particular name could sometimes be used to refer to a range of completely different baskets. This is probably partly due regional variation in names, and partly due to the confusion caused by different languages like Gaelic, Old Scots and English used in Scotland. The titles of images will be connected with how the basket is labelled in museums or archives and these have not been changed. Creel or cliabh, for example is a general Gaelic term covering several forms of Scottish (and Irish) baskets. Scull similarly seems to be used for several different baskets of the frame style construction. In this section we have tried to mention all names by which a particular basket may be known but inevitably there may be omissions.

 

Angling Baskets

angling basket - Arran Heritage Museum

These baskets were used by anglers carry the fish that they caught. The fish would be dropped through the gap in the lid of the basket. And a leather shoulder strap was attached through gaps in the sides for carrying it.

View the “Angling Baskets” collection

Back and Pony Creels of the Highlands and Islands

John Gillies with his sons Callum and Ian, carrying peat creels near their home on Eilean Fladday, off Raasay. Gairloch Museum and Archive

The creel Creel(Gaelic cliabh) is a general term covering several forms of Scottish (and Irish) baskets. In this section we are talking about back creels and pony creels, which are sometimes just referred to as 'creels'. The design of back creels varied but can be divided into two main types, the east coast fish wife's…

View the “Back and Pony Creels of the Highlands and Islands” collection

Back Creel of the East Coast Fishwife

Phemie, an east coast fishwife, selling fish in Corstophine, early 1900s. Scottish Life Archive

These back creels were used by fishwives to carry fish for sale. They were loaded with fish that the men had caught while line fishing, and the fishwives took them to sell inland and to places like Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, and other towns. They were similar in construction to the back creel used on crofts…

View the “Back Creel of the East Coast Fishwife” collection

Bannock baskets

nethy Bridge bannock basket

Go to many museums on mainland Scotland, and there are always one or two examples of these ubiquitous baskets, often, but not always, made in the Madeira style described by Liz Balfour in our blog.

View the “Bannock baskets” collection

Bee Skeps

Bee skeps have been used across Scotland. They are made from coiled straw bound with what appears to be bramble.

View the “Bee Skeps” collection

Calf Muzzles

On the west coast of Scotland muzzles woven from willow were put on calves to prevent them from suckling for a while.

View the “Calf Muzzles” collection

Ciosan

Ciosan from Uist, probably made from marram grass wrapped with willow or bramble. Highland Folk MuseumQP4

The ciosan is a small, closely woven basket, formerly made on the Western Isles and along the west coast. It is a coiled basket made from sea-bent (marram grass), or sometimes straw. The coils are stitched together using twine made from rush, marram, even split willow or bramble, or bought twine.

View the “Ciosan” collection

Coracles/Currachs

Coracle at Portsoy Boat Festival

These were small boats used on rivers and sometimes around the coast with a woven framework of willow and often hazel, covered in animal hide.

View the “Coracles/Currachs” collection

Cots and other homely things

This section contains basketry items found around the home

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Cuddy or cubbie

Shetland Museum FIS 2008.111 heather and flos bait kuddi

A small basket called a cuddy in Shetland or a cubbie in Orkney used for holding bait. Made of heather, straw or dockens and sometimes with floss (soft rush), in a similar way to a kishie.

View the “Cuddy or cubbie” collection

Curling Baskets

Curling Lise bech 2

The sport of curling originated in Scotland and special baskets made in two halves and hinged were made to keep the curling stones in.

View the “Curling Baskets” collection

Egg baskets

Egg Baskets, Castlehill Heritage Museum

Used for collecting eggs these baskets are generally round and have sides that curve outwards from the base before coming straight up.

View the “Egg baskets” collection

Fishwives Murlins/Top Creels/Bow Creels/Arm Creels

A half-round murlin, as used by Newhaven fishwife. National Museums of Scotland

These are baskets used by fishwives of the east coast along with their back creels or rips. They were used to display a sample of fish to customers and usually to store a board and knife for gutting the fish. In the areas around Arbroath and Montrose where rips were used, the basket used had…

View the “Fishwives Murlins/Top Creels/Bow Creels/Arm Creels” collection

Fruit baskets

Crownpoint Box factory women 'chip' or fruit assembling baskets

Fruit baskets fit into more than one category of basketry. There were large stake and strand baskets used on fruit farms for measuring and transporting large quantities of fruit. There were also factory made lath fruit baskets, called 'chip' baskets or punnets. These were made using machine split wood that was woven and stapled together…

View the “Fruit baskets” collection

Grain Baskets and other sacks

Grain sack Highland Folk Museum, QP23

More like sacks than baskets these grain baskets were used to carry grain to and from mills in the Western Isles. They were made from marram grass that was woven so tightly that it was almost waterproof.

View the “Grain Baskets and other sacks” collection

Hampers

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Large rectangular baskets or hampers were used for a variety of purposes often for storage and in transportation. The post office used large baskets on wheels for parcels in their sorting office, other hampers with lids were used to transport linen from hotels to the laundry

View the “Hampers” collection

Hen/Ose/ Skye basket

The Ose, or Skye basket

This basket was a form of frame basket made by weaving around several main hoops and added ribs. By Dawn Susan.

View the “Hen/Ose/ Skye basket” collection

Horse Harnesses

At one time horse harnesses were woven from willow or grass

View the “Horse Harnesses” collection

Kishie or Caisie

Ewan Balfour making a kishie

This basket called a Kishie in Shetland or a Caisie in Orkney is used in a similar way that the back creel is used by crofters in the Highlands and Islands off the west coast of Scotland. Rather than woody material like willow however, in Shetland, these baskets were made of oat straw, or sometimes…

View the “Kishie or Caisie” collection

Knitting Needle Baskets

Knitting basket, willow frame and plaited rush weavers. Highland Folk Museum

Knitting Needle baskets were used to store needles and wool

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Laundry, linen and peg baskets

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Line Baskets

Anstruther long line scull

Line baskets were used by fishermen to keep lines, sometimes miles in length, with hooks attached to them which were baited ready for fishing. There was two types of line fishing, small line and great line and different styles of baskets were used for each. The baskets used also varied depending on the region in…

View the “Line Baskets” collectionSee also Great Line Basket and Line Sculls

Muirlag/mudag

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A Muirlag, or mudag, is a basket used to keep wool in before carding. These baskets are often rugby ball shaped willow baskets with a rectangular gap through which the wool is taken out for carding. Mudags for keeping wool in are found in other shapes and sizes, and made from other materials, however.

View the “Muirlag/mudag” collection

Orkney Chairs and other Seats

As well as the famous Orkney chairs a variety of other seats use basketry techniques

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Panniers

Side view of one of pair of panniers at Dumfries Museum, showing leather back

Panniers were used to transport game such as grouse

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Quarter cran

Quarter cran, Leith Customs House Collection, NMS

Quarter Cran baskets of were widely used throughout Britain in the herring fishing industry. One cran is the official unit of measurement for herring, and quarter cran baskets were made to exact regulation measurements and had an official brand to certify it they were the correct size. They were used to unload fish from the…

View the “Quarter cran” collection

Rip

Arbroath rip, National Museums of Scotland

This type of basket seems to be unique to an area around Arbroath and Montrose. A large frame basket with a strap for carrying it across the shoulders, it was used by Fishwives in a few villages in this area in the same way that back creels were used by women in other east coast…

View the “Rip” collection

Salt Baskets

 These baskets were used in the salt production process in parts of Scotland. Containers of seawater were heated and the water boiled away leaving just a salt paste which was then put in the baskets for further purification and to dry out completely.

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Shopping Baskets

Shopping Basket used in Glasgow in the first half of 20th Century.

Shopping baskets came in a variety of shapes and sizes

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Tattie Scull

Worn tattie scull, Dumfries Museum 27.79.218

Tattie Sculls were baskets used for collecting potatoes (tatties) on lowland farms. These were often spale baskets made from split wood, but could also be baskets made with a frame of oak or hazel and woven with willow or cane. In more recent times tattie sculls made from natural materials were replaced by wire baskets…

View the “Tattie Scull” collection

Toig

View the “Toig” collection

Woven mats, flakkies and plads

View the “Woven mats, flakkies and plads” collection