Thursday, March 15, 2018

KILTS- A Man and a Half or A Man in a Dress? Plus a Giveaway!!

How many of you women out there will admit that there is something ever so romantic about a Scottish man in a kilt? What is it about those pleated tartans that seem so masculine? 

Jamie Fraser from the Outlander Series

Since this is a blog not directed to women but to history lovers, both male and female, I also have to ask the men a question. Are you like many men who feel the men are wearing dresses?

By Oliver-Bonjoch - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

I'm devoting today's post to the Scottish kilt. When I first started researching the clothing item nearly a decade ago, I was sorely disappointed to learn that much of what I thought to be true was myth. So I thought it would be fun to make today quiz day. Let's see what you know about the kilt and hopefully come away learning a thing or two.

1) Where did the kilt originate?
a. Scotland
b. Ireland
c. England

2) In Scotland, who first wore the kilt?
a. Highlander
b. Lowlander
c. They both started at about the same time

3) What kind of fabric are kilts made from?
a. tight woven wool
b. cotton
c. wool and cotton blend
d. light airy wool

4) When were kilts first worn?
a. Sometime in the 11th century
b. Sometime in the 13th century
c. Sometime in the 16th century
d. Sometime in the 18th century

5) How many yards of fabric was a kilt?
a. 3 to 4 yards
b. 4 to 5 yards
c. 6  to 7 yards
d. 7 to 8 yards
e. no one really knows

6) What was the purpose of the kilt?
a. it was easy to shed if hindered, made a great blanket, was water proof, and could be used as a cloak.
b. it was just a fashion style
c. it was designed to identify clans

7) How was the kilt put on?
a. one always had someone assist them in putting on the tartan
b. one laid it on the ground, pleated it and then laid down on the cloth and belted it
c. any way you could
d. standing and meticulously pleating the cloth around one's body
e. all of the above

8) Was a kilt always made from a tartan?
a. yes
b. no

9) What is the pouch called worn with kilts?
a. hand bag 
b. kilt pocket
c. sporran
d. pooch

Okay folks, are you ready to see how you did and learn a little history?

Where did the kilt originate is Scotland? Many people will argue this fact but the truth is there is nothing that shows the Irish first wore the kilt nor that an Englishman invented the kilt by cutting off a longer garment. The Irish men depicted in the pictures said to be kilts are actually called leine or an Irish tunic. The leine is a short tunic exposing the knees but if you take note they are not a piece of fabric wrapped and pleated around the waist.

 By Georg Cรถler - [| Ralphus] (16 November 2009). Scots and Irish in the Thirty Years War. Retrieved on 26 October 2019.; uploaded by Kim Traynor, 26 January 2012, Public Domain,

I'm sure most of you will get number two correct with the answer of the Highlander. The kilt was first worn by the men of the hills and the lowlanders considered their Scottish Highlander dress barbaric. I wonder if it was the women that convinced their lowlander husbands that the kilt looked quite fetching on a man, because eventually it was worn by both Highlander and Lowlander. 

The correct response for question three would be that kilts were made out of a very densely woven wool. This fabric was woven so tightly that it was thick and known to be waterproof. The heavy fabric helped keep them warm as well as dry. 

By No machine-readable author provided. JFPerry~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims). - No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 2.5,

Don't let Braveheart steer you wrong on this one. Kilts were not worn during William Wallace's lifetime. Kilts didn't actually come around until sometime in the 16th century. The earliest mention of something that very much resembles what could be called a kilt was in 1580. 

On to number five. I could possibly be opening up a can of worms here but I am going with 3 to 4 yards. However, no one really seems to know was a tempting choice! I have read so much information on this and read quotes from old excerpts of books and letters and there does seem to be a difference of opinion on yardage. It really did depend on if we were talking the great kilt which was a full outfit or the kilt we think of today, "the little kilt". A kilt from the late 18th century is in a museum in Scotland and it is approximately 3 1/2 to 4 yards long. I have read some very convincing information that some were 4 to 5 yards but was uncertain if that was the great kilt. Remember, when talking yardage one must keep in mind there was the great kilt and also the walking kilt or small/little kilt, as well. Compare those to today's yardage of eight to nine yards. 

What was the purpose of the kilt? Number six's answer would be a. The kilt was

a multipurpose garment much like we have the multipurpose knife these days. The Scotsman would not only keep his body warm while out working but if night fell he could use his garment as a large warm blanket. If it began to rain while he was out, the fabric was so tightly woven together that it was literally water proof, unlike the loosely woven fabric we have today. The long end of the tartan could be used as a cloak for warmth, but it also allowed freedom of movement and wasn't binding. And when in battle and needing complete freedom from all encumbrances one could easily release the belt and let the fabric fall. 

So how was the quilt put on? The truth of the matter is, any way you can. Although, the putting the fabric on the ground and pleating it before lying on it seemed to be a popular way to dress oneself with a kilt.

On to number eight. Is a kilt always made from a tartan? The answer is no. The first kilts were made from a home-dyed fabric and would be whatever color dye they had access to. If they didn't have access to a dye they may be a beige color of wool. The true tartans are not thought to exist in Scotland until the 16th century, about the same time as the first kilt. The two were not synonymous of each other. The tartan is a piece of fabric that we in Northern America would call a plaid. The different plaids and different colors eventually evolved into clan tartans. What is interesting about this is that many clans had one weaver. That weaver would weave the a pattern with what dyes he had available to him. Thus the family would all wear the same color and plaid making them Clan Tartans. 

And lastly number 9. What is the pouch called that hangs around the waist and onto the front of the kilt? It is called a sporran, answer c. The sporran hangs in the center of the kilt and acts much like a pocket or purse, allowing the wearer a place to hold items. 

By Jongleur100 - Own work, Public Domain,

So how did you do? Was there anything that surprised you? What are your thoughts about the Scottish kilt? Let me know by leaving a comment below and you'll be entered to win choice of one of my books as well as choice of format. Don't forget to leave your email addy so I can contact you should you win!

When her father died, she had promised herself no man would own her again, yet who could defy an edict of the king? After the death of her cruel father, Brithwin is determined never again to live under the harsh rule of any man. Independent and resourceful, she longs to be left alone to manage her father’s estate. But she soon discovers a woman has few choices when the king decrees she is to marry Royce, the Lord of Rosencraig. As if the unwelcome marriage isn’t enough, her new husband accuses her of murdering his family, and she is faced with a challenge of either proving her innocence or facing possible execution. 
Royce of Hawkwood returns home after setting down a rebellion to find his family brutally murdered. When all fingers point to his betrothed and attempts are made on his life, Royce must wade through murky waters to uncover the truth. Yet Brithwin’s wise and kind nature begin to break down the walls of his heart, and he soon finds himself in a race to discover who is behind the evil plot before Brithwin is the next victim.

Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina. She has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children's Director. Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland Sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, she and her husband take pleasure in camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses. Connect with me on FB and Twitter


  1. Very interesting! I didn't do very well in the quiz, I know next to nothing about a kilt except that I thought the tartans identified clans. And I didn't know it was loose fabric! That in itself is amazing! Thanks for the giveaway!

    1. Hey Connie. I'm glad you learned some things! It was a fun post to write. Good luck in the giveaway!


  2. Enjoyed the history lesson about the kilts and quiz. I didn't score high but gained the history. Thank you for sharing your research and the giveaway. Blessings.

    1. Hey Marilyn! Thank you for coming by. I'm glad you learned some things. That is what this blog is all about--learning history. Good luck in the giveaway.

  3. Wow! I knew a few answers but not a whole lot and I am Irish, with a little bit of Scottish amongst other things. I feel like I let down my heritage a bit with this quiz. It was fun to take. Loved the pictures and learning more about history. Thank you for teaching us something new Debbie. I am currently watching the show Reign about Mary, Queen of Scots.

    1. Hey Halita! Thanks for coming by. LOL You didn't let down your heritage. Just think now you will be able to impress people with your knowledge of kilts. I haven't seen Mary, Queen of Scots. I'll have to look into it. Good luck in the giveaway!

  4. I missed 2 (when they started and how much fabric they contained). dbdempsey98(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. Loved this, Debbie. The first person I thought of was Chip McGregor and his kilt at ACFW Awards dinner. My Bible study teacher's daughter married a Scotsman and he and all his attendants wore kilts at the wedding. A beautiful sight it was. The only fact I knew about kilts was the last one, and I'm not sure how I knew that. :) Thanks for the informative and interesting post.

    1. Hey Martha! I did think of Chip also! But then he is the only man I know who wears a kilt. I bet that was a beautiful wedding. Wow! I'd love to see the pictures.

  6. Interesting. Did good on the quiz though 9 stumped me. Interesting name for the pouch that hangs around the waist.

    1. Hey Kim,
      The highlands in history had a lot of interesting names for things. I guess that sporran was one of the ones that stuck! Good luck!

  7. It takes a special kind of man to war a "skirt".
    Thanks for the quiz and for entering me in your giveaway.
    Janet E.

    1. Haha! Yes it does. But Oh my goodness! Those men can really rock a kilt! Thanks for coming by!

  8. Okay, here are my answers:
    1. A
    2. A
    3. A
    4. B
    5. B
    6. A or C
    7. E
    8. B
    9. B or C

    Now I gotta go back and read through the answers to see how well I did ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Woo! I think I did pretty good ๐Ÿ˜Š I got question 4 wrong and 5 was questionable, I guess. But the rest were right!๐Ÿ˜ƒ

  9. You did really good, Elly! Thanks for coming by. Good luck in the giveaway!

  10. I learned a lot! I did not realize the kilt could be so multifunctional. Very interesting!!

  11. Congratulations Kim H. You won a copy of choice of my books!

  12. Thank you for sharing such an insightful and well-written article. It was a pleasure to read and I learned a lot from it.