I have always been enamored of all things Scottish. I’m not sure what it is. The intriguing history and inherent romance of wild heather and windswept moors, perhaps? The castles and incredible scenery, certainly. And the Scottish men in kilts don’t hurt, either 😉
When I first started writing highlander novels, I did a great deal of research on kilts. I didn’t know much to begin with (except how good they looked on the handsome Hollywood hunks who wore them in films. This was before Sam Heughan kilted up to play Jaime Fraser or he’d be top of the list for sure!). But I did know that there were several times throughout history that kilts weren’t widely worn in Scotland, so I wanted to have all my historical facts straight. While researching, I came across several interesting tidbits, as one often does.
Here are five of my favorite kilt facts.
- Kilts are fairly recent, having only been around since the 16th William Wallace, a la Braveheart, would not have worn one as he was both a lowlander and born about 300 years too early.
- The brightly colored modern clan tartan patterns usually associated with kilts didn’t start coming about until the late 1800s. Before then, kilts were hand-dyed in more simple checked patterns.
- Wearing of tartan was banned after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 and remained so until the 1780s. By which time, many of the old patterns were lost. This meant that many tartan patterns needed to be redesigned once they came back into vogue.
- There are different types of kilts. The original kilt—Feileadh mhor or great kilt, also known as the belted plaid—was a huge length (up to 21 feet) of material loosely folded and belted at the waist. The extra material was draped over the shoulder and could be used to cover the shoulders and head in bad weather. The kilts worn in the show Outlander are a great example of this. Then there is the Feileadh beag—philabeag kilt or walking kilt—which is also loosely folded and belted at the waist but has much less material and does not have the extra which can go over the shoulders. These evolved into kilts that had sewn pleats rather than the loose folds and more closely resemble the modern kilts worn today.
- While the question of whether or not a true Scot wears anything under his kilt is probably the longest running joke ever, there is and generally was something under there other than bare skin 😉 If nothing else, there was an added layer as the shirts worn during these periods typically reached the knees though it’s also likely they wore braies, a loose undergarment sort of resembling boxers.
- Bonus tidbit – my husband’s family is Scottish (his grandfather immigrated to the US) so to my delight, he is more than happy to don a kilt from time to time. See below for a picture of him modeling a modern style “utility kilt”. Kind of like cargo shorts but in kilt form.
Honestly though, despite what is to me a fascinating history, my favorite thing about kilts is pretty basic—I just love the way they look. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s because they are so different from men’s typical clothing. Maybe it’s because I’m a history nut so to see a man dressed in such a historical garment triggers that love of history…I don’t know. Whatever it is, I must confess, I really love a man in a kilt! Especially my man! 😀
The MacGregor Lairds #4
William MacGregor will lie, spy, and happily die to protect his clan from their greatest enemy. But when he kidnaps the wrong woman, he triggers the very events he’d been working so hard to prevent. And puts everyone in danger.
Rose Thatcher will do anything to protect her lady and return them both safely to English soil. But the damn Highlander who snatched her off the docks has done nothing but get in her way. She’d love to ditch the bastard, but if they want to save their respective loved ones, they are going to have to stay together.
Somewhere along the grueling journey to Scotland, their constant bickering turns into something more. Something worth fighting for. But how can an English lady’s maid, who longs for the safe, comfortable life she had in London, find love with a Highlander who can’t wait to wipe England’s dust off his feet? If they can’t defeat the enemy they accidentally led home, they might not live long enough to find out.
Romance Historical [Entangled: Scandalous, On Sale: July 8, 2019, e-Book, ISBN: 9781078046589 / ]
About Michelle McLean
Romance and non-fiction author Michelle McLean spent 98% of her formative years with her nose in a book indulging in her love of reading and research. She has a B.S. in History, a M.A. in English, has insane eclectic tastes, and tends to be a bit of an organized mess with an insatiable love of books.
When Michelle’s not editing, reading or chasing her kids around, she can usually be found in a quiet corner working on her next book. She resides in PA with her husband and two children, an insanely hyper dog, and two very spoiled cats.