The kilt really is a kind of men’s skirt, pleated at the back and made of a plaid said to belong to the wearer’s clan. The kilt originated in traditional clothing of men in the mountainous Scottish Highlands, men who spoke Gaelic and were Roman Catholic. Lowland Scots were not Celtic, but the kilt now is associated with Scotland as a whole, not just the highlands.
These were men who were quite formidable fighters. The modern kilt is knee-length, accessorized with things like a sporran (a kind of pouch or purse). This shorter kilt developed from the older clothing in the early 1700s, not long before the last powerful clans were broken by English armies.
The old form was a large woolen cloth, four to six yards long and two yards wide, which was broadly similar to the Roman toga. The cloth would have been made by Highland women, from sheep herded on the hills.
The shorter kilt seems to have been worn largely in ceremonial or military occasions, because winters in the Highlands are cold and a short kilt would not contribute much to warmth. The Scottish heritage movement is large and often features kilts worn by athletes in Highland games, and in marching piper bands.
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