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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SPORRAN (3 min read)

Posted on 27 August 2018

Sporran is the Gaelic for purse and has become a traditional part of Highland dress that is functional as well as being decorative.

Great Scot

The functionality has survived from the European medieval pouch that was worn on a belt and period illustrations of individuals in trews (or trousers) demonstrate splendidly that it was in place of pockets.

The original sporrans were really just circles of leather with holes around the circumference through which was threaded a leather thong which was tightened to draw the neck of the pouch together. Just like today's pockets, its contents would be many and varied but contemporary - coins, musket balls, fire-making paraphernalia and even, amongst cattle drovers, oats and onions for whistling up a black pudding on the trail (they bled the cattle and used the blood).

Deerskin would be the obvious material for the early sporrans and as they became less functional, they became more elaborate - in Victorian times, the fashion was for goat-hair sporrans that all but obscured the front of the kilt!

The sporran is conventionally worn on the front of the kilt, suspended by light chains or narrow leather belts that fasten in the pit of the back - usually fed through the two belt loops of the kilt. It's important to get its position right - it should hang two or three inches below the belt buckle, too low - below the pubic bone as one sometimes sees it, looks comical and too close to the belt buckle is also to be avoided.

Sporran-making is a time-honoured craft and at Great Scot we have been lucky enough to work with the very best in Scotland. Our sporran makers are passionately rooted in tradition working with old traditional patterns and with ancient techniques yet today they fuse these with modern design cutting and etching technology to bring a fresh and updated sporran to the modern kilt wearer. See The GREAT SCOT 2018/19 SPORRAN COLLECTION HERE.

Great Scot

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