The Great Scotland-Oregon connection, part 2.

IMG_1395Round two!

This just in:    Reports from Portland, OR have masses of kilt-wearing men taking to the streets. Also seen are large groups of women in argyle-pattern sweaters and stockings (ooh-la-la). Scottish bagpipe and drum music fill the air. Samples of haggis, black pudding, and Scotch eggs are being handed out, and a large cask of 25-year-old single malt whiskey has been tapped.

Oh wait. Another dream sequence…

Welcome back to The Great Scotland-Oregon connection. Part (insert bogus Scottish accent) tEW. We left off nailing down the name origin of Dundee, Oregon, and we’ll now discuss Argyle/Argylle. I mentioned socks last time, and in fairness to those of you who actually did think of these diamond-patterned darlings, a brief comment on this. jcrew-argyle-socks

The argyle pattern is derived from the tartan of Clan Campbell, of Argyll in eastern Scotland—even though Argylle, as discussed here, refers to a large area in western Scotland. Don’t ask. Anyway, this pattern has gone on to become the stereotype living in dad’s sock drawer and, weirdly enough, a fairly hot fashion for men’s sweaters. And I’m not talking about the retired guy on the golf course, either. Look at any American young mens clothing flyer towards the end of the year. There they are, Argyle sweaters of all sorts, colors, and varying business. I could never do it. It was always bad enough I had to wear slacks and tuck my shirt in. One of my old bosses used to wear these things quite often in the winter, and I’ll be damned if I could find a single, solitary speck of lint or wrinkle on those suckers. It was creepy. But I digress…


According to my buddy Wiki, the origin(s) of this word stems from the following:

“…the name Arregathel means margin of the Scots or Irish, because all Scots and Irish are generally called Gattheli [=Gaels], from their ancient war leader known as Gaithelglas.” However, it is often understood to derive from Earra-Ghàidheal, “Coast of Gaels”.

All of that lazily flew over my head when I read it the first time. All, except the part about the ancient war leader. Nice. And just so we’re crystal clear here, Earra-Ghàidheal is in modern Gaelic. Aaahhh, right. It’s all making sense now…

IMG_1382This ferry has both the archaic and modern Gaelic spelling of Argylle.

Speaking of Gaelic (har-har), I’ve also noticed that many of the signs on store fronts and roads have accompanying Gaelic wordage on them. I asked one of the locals about this– it was explained to me that there has been a Gaelic language revival lately in Scotland, and these ancient words are once again becoming more visible and audible. I also found out that not everybody here is happy about this– hearing a pissed off Scot curse is something to remember, I tell you. Again, I digress…

*  *  *

Let’s go back to Oregon for a second. According to the folks at Argyle winery, the name was chosen and given to the winery for a couple of reasons. For one, Rollin wanted something that fit into the Dundee (Oregon) community. I’m assuming he was aware of and considering the port town in Scotland. And two, Brian Croser from Petaluma Winery in Australia, and Rollin’s partner when he was setting up Argyle, knew there was a diamond mine in Australia named Argyle, hence the diamond shape on the labels. Interesting. I would have bet there was some ode to family history there; there are at least 15 different U.S. towns, villages, or cities named Argyle.

Speaking of Australia, can anybody tell me why cheap Aussie wine is so prevalent here in Scotland? It’s everywhere! Does shiraz go better with haggis?
Actually, it does go well (or at least French Syrah does) with lamb. Once again– digressions…

To mercifully wrap things up here, Argyle/Argylle in modern Scottish terms, alas, refers to a registration county for property.

…What! All that for… registration?! Hold on, there’s more. Wiki also informed me that Argyle:

“…is a region of western Scotland corresponding with most of the part of ancient Dál Riata that was located on the island of Great Britain, and in a historical context can be used to mean the entire western seaboard between the Mull of Kintyre and Cape Wrath.”


Better? Throw in an “ancient” here and there, a “warlord” now and again, and even the most bland piece of information has sudden flavor. Basically, folks, Argyle nowadays refers to a very broad and highly scenic part of Scotland’s west coast. I guess I could’ve wrote that at the beginning of the last post and been done with it. But what fun would that have been? Besides, think of all the history we just covered. We’ve spanned centuries, countless battles, bad sweaters, and barrels of yummy Oregon pinot noir (please Argyle winery, send me a bottle of something!). The next time you see that label in the store, you might be inspired to get your tartan-wear out and tune up your bagpipes.

Speaking of bagpipes, here’s some “Amazing” music to end with.

Until next time laddies and hens!




~ by Jared on May 9, 2009.

One Response to “The Great Scotland-Oregon connection, part 2.”

  1. Lovely post. Please in you’re nest post use diagrams, videos and whatever else you need to explain how the bagpipe works.
    Love the pipe and drum.


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