The History Of Tartan Kilts: A Deep Dive Into The Scottish Traditional Garment

People all around the world are fascinated by tartan kilts, a traditional Scottish attire. These kilts have been made of specific plaid fabric that is related to Scottish history and tradition. The origins of tartan kilts may be traced back hundreds of years, making for a lengthy and fascinating history.

In this essay, we’ll examine the origins of tartan kilts and how Scottish culture and identity came to rely so heavily on them. The history of the tartan kilt is fascinating, whether you are interested in history or are just a fan of this famous outfit.

Importance Of Tartan in Scottish Culture:

The pattern known as tartan, which consists of crisscrossed bands of various colours running horizontally and vertically, has come to represent Scottish culture all across the world. There are many distinct types of tartan and their significance to Scottish people over the long and fascinating history of tartan in Scotland. Here, we’ll look at the significance of custom¬†tartan in Scottish culture, its history, and several tartan varieties.

The History Of Tartan In Scotland:

Tartan has been part of Scottish culture for centuries. Tartan first appears in writing in the third and fourth centuries AD, but it wasn’t until the sixteenth century that it started to be used as a sign of clan affiliation.Each clan had its own tartan, which was worn by its members as a sign of loyalty and belonging. Tartan was used not only for clothing but also for bedding, curtains, and other household items.

The Significance Of Tartan In Scottish Culture:

An iconic representation of Scottish culture and heritage is tartan. It stands for the nation’s identity, history, and customs. Tartan is a common decor at weddings, graduations, and Highland games in Scotland. The tartan pattern is so firmly linked to Scotland that it is often used to advertise Scottish travel and goods all over the world.

Types Of Tartan:

There are several types of tartan, each with its own history and significance. Here are two of the most popular types of tartan:

The Great Kilt:

The Great Kilt comprised a full-length garment draped over the shoulder and secured with a belt. It was also known as the belted plaid. Highlanders wore it in the 16th and 17th centuries; it was created from a single piece of woolen fabric. The Great Kilt might be a sleeping bag, blanket, or cloak. Furthermore, it was utilized to transport supplies like food and guns.

The Small Kilt:

Today’s most widely used tartan is the Small Kilt, also referred to as the modern kilt. It is a knee-length, pleated garment with a leather pouch wrapped around the waist that is worn with a sporran. When the Small Kilt was initially introduced in the 18th century, Scottish troops flocked to wear them. Today, it is a sign of Scottish identity and is worn for occasions that are formal as well as informal.

The Feileadh Beg:

The Feileadh Beg, also known as the “little wrap” or “small kilt,” was a precursor to the modern tartan kilt. It was worn by Highlanders in the 16th and 17th centuries and was a long piece of cloth that was wrapped around the waist and legs. The Feileadh Beg was often worn with a jacket, shirt, and belt, and it was used for both everyday wear and formal occasions.

The Development Of The Modern Tartan Kilt:

The modern tartan kilt has its roots in the Feileadh Beg. In the 16th century, the Feileadh Beg began to be worn with a separate upper garment, such as a jacket or coat. By the 17th century, the Feileadh Beg had evolved into a knee-length garment with pleats at the back, which would later become the modern tartan kilt.

The 16th Century:

The Feileadh Beg started to be worn with a short jacket or garment called a “bonnet” in the 16th century. Highlanders became acclimated to wearing this type of clothing for both formal and casual situations. Each clan had its own tartan, which was still strongly connected to clan identity.

The 17th Century:

The Feileadh Beg had developed into a knee-length garment with pleats at the rear by the 17th century. The “great kilt” or “belted plaid,” as it was also known, was worn over a shirt and a jacket. Highland soldiers frequently wore a large kilt, which could be used as a cloak, a blanket, or a sleeping bag. While the tartan design remained connected to clan identification, it also gained popularity among non-Scots who were drawn to Scottish culture.

The 18th Century:

The British government made an effort to stifle Scottish culture, including the wearing of tartan, in the 18th century. The “Tartan Ban,” which ran from 1746 to 1782, was part of a larger initiative to put an end to Scottish resistance following the Jacobite uprisings. Many Scottish people were forced to give up their native attire at this time since donning tartan was viewed as a sign of disloyalty.

Tartan Kilts And Scottish Clans;

Tartan kilts are an iconic part of Scottish culture and are closely associated with Scottish clans. Each clan has its own tartan, and wearing the tartan of your clan is a way of showing loyalty and belonging. The tartan pattern is also used to represent different regions of Scotland, with each region having its own distinctive tartan.

Clans and Tartans:

Scottish clans have a long and complex history, and each clan has its own tartan pattern. The use of tartan as a symbol of clan identity dates back to the 16th century, and today, many Scottish people still wear the tartan of their clan. The pattern of each tartan is unique, with different colors and stripes representing different aspects of the clan’s history and identity.

The Tartan Ban:

There was a terrible time in Scottish history known as the Tartan Ban, which lasted from 1746 until 1782. The wearing of tartan was prohibited during this period in an effort to stifle Scottish culture and identity. The tartan design was mostly forgotten as a result of the forced abandonment of traditional clothing by many Scots. The rediscovery and celebration of tartan did not start until the 19th century.

The Tartan Revival:

After the Tartan Ban was removed in the 19th century, Scotland saw a rebirth of tartan. Sir Walter Scott, who wrote extensively on Scottish culture and encouraged the wearing of tartan, had a significant role in its rebirth. Tartan kilts rose to popularity once more and are still a vital component of Scottish culture today.

Tartan Kilts In Modern Times:

In modern times, tartan kilts are still worn on special occasions and events, such as Highland Games and weddings. Highland Games are athletic events that take place in Scotland and other parts of the world and feature competitions such as caber tossing, tug-of-war, and hammer throwing. Participants often wear traditional Scottish dress, including tartan kilts.

Kilts In Weddings:

Particularly in Scotland, tartan kilts are a common wedding attire option. They can be made to match the wedding colors or the clan tartan and are frequently worn by the groom and his groomsmen. Honoring Scottish culture and tradition by donning a tartan kilt during a wedding.

Kilts in Fashion:

In addition to Highland Games and weddings tartan kilts have also become a popular fashion item in modern times. They can be worn in a variety of styles, from traditional to modern, and are often paired with accessories such as a sporran or a jacket. Tartan kilts have been featured in fashion shows and have been worn by celebrities and fashion influencers, helping to increase their popularity and visibility.


In summary, tartan kilts have a long and fascinating history in Scottish culture. They have evolved over time, from the Feileadh Beg to the modern tartan kilt, and have been used to represent clan identity, regional identity, and Scottish pride. The Tartan Ban in the 18th century threatened to extinguish the tradition, but thanks to the Tartan Revival in the 19th century, tartan kilts have continued to be a significant part of Scottish culture today. In conclusion, tartan kilts are more than just a piece of clothing – they represent the history, traditions, and values of Scottish culture. The significance of tartan kilts in Scottish culture will undoubtedly continue to endure for many generations to come.

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