Graduation Caps, Academic Mortarboards, Doctoral Tams & Beefeaters by Graduation Gowns UK
About Graduation Caps, Academic Mortarboards, Doctoral Tams & Beefeaters offered by Graduation Gowns UK
The academic cap is also sometimes called the “square” or, more commonly, “mortarboard.” It has become a symbol of higher education and academia, and in some universities it is worn by undergraduates as well as graduates in lieu of the traditional hood.
The hat itself is a flat, square hat that includes a tassel, which is suspended from a button located in the top center of the board. The board of the cap is intended to be parallel to the ground when worn properly.
The mortarboard cap is also sometimes called a “trencher,” which is short for “trencher cap.” The tassel is made of a cluster of threads, which are traditionally made from silk. These threads are attached together and fastened to a button in the middle of the cap, and are allowed to fall freely over the side of the cap. They may also be plaited together to form a single cord, though the end of the threads are usually left untied. While uncommon in Commonwealth countries, in America, the tassel is traditionally moved from the left side to the right side upon graduation and the conference of a degree.
Uniquely, the mortarboard has a mourning version, which is to be worn when mourning family relatives or friends. Instead of a tassel and button, two wide ribbons are attached to the cap from corner-to-corner, forming an X. In the center of the X, a rosette of ribbon is traditionally attached.
In UK universities, many doctorate holders do not wear a mortarboard at all. Rather, they use a Tudor bonnet, which is also called a “tam.” There are also some other types of hats in the UK, such as the John Knox cap, Bishop Andrewes Cap, and the pileus. Other variations include the Oxford Ladies Cap and the black biretta, worn by some Catholic and Anglican clergy.
In most cases, academic caps are not worn indoors by men – with the exception of university Chancellors and other high-ranking officials. Instead, they are typically carried. Other changes have occurred over time. In some graduation ceremonies, caps are no longer worn by men, and are only issued to women – who typically do wear them indoors.
This has often been misinterpreted – urban legends at many universities like Trinity College, University of Bristol, and University of Cambridge state that men stopped wearing the cap to protest the admission of women into the university. This is not true – it was simply a matter of changing times and traditions that caused many men to stop wearing their hats.
Indeed, some universities such as Open University have a policy that states that academic headgear is not to be worn at graduation ceremonies at all, and some other universities have abandoned head wear for political reasons, or because the designer of the graduation robes intended them to be worn without hats.
Recent innovations in the design of graduation caps have occurred at the University of East Anglia, where fashion designer Cecil Beaton created two caps. The first was called the “Mickey Mouse” or “Dan Dare” cap and was a skull cap with a thin rim around the top. It was intended to be worn by graduates with bachelor’s degrees. The other was typically called the tricorn, but was also referred to as the “upside-down” iron. It followed the style of a mortarboard, but used a design that incorporated a triangle instead of the traditional square, hence the name. However, both styles of caps were unpopular and quickly fell into disuse – though they are still worn by some undergraduates and officials in the Office of the Registrar.