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Abstract

The Rector’s gown at the University of St Andrews is arguably the only surviving relic of true medieval academical dress in Scotland. Today, the students of each of the ancient universities at St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh elect a Rector every three years to preside over Court, the governing body of the institutions. The University of Dundee also elects a Rector but, unlike at the other universities, there he sits on but does not chair Court. The role of Rector was constituted at each of the universities from the time of their respective foundations; the Rector was, and continues to be, a prominent figure both ceremonially and administratively. The Universities (Scotland) Act 1858 standardized the role and university governance in general. This paper will briefly treat medieval Rectorial dress in continental Europe, introduce general aspects of Scottish Rectorial dress, and then detail its development at each of the ancient Scottish universities in order of foundation date. The conclusion will deal briefly with the question of whether Scottish Rectorial dress is truly academical or official. [Excerpt from the Introduction].

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