The Ties That Bind: Britain’s Use of Scottish Highland Dress

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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For over 300 years, Britain has influenced Scotland’s national identity. Scottish Highland dress, which consists of kilts and tartans has been appropriated, manipulated, and transformed by the British in order to forward political, commercial, and social objectives. Scotland’s national dress has contributed to a more cohesive identity within the United Kingdom. However, available research only examines specific instances of British influence on—and usage of—kilts and tartans. The purpose of this study was to identify and explore a sample of key figures and historical events that illustrate the use of Scottish Highland dress to forward British interests. The researchers triangulated databases and secondary literature along with extant objects and materials, with the aim of developing a more holistic understanding of appropriation, manipulation, and transformation. Findings indicate how the context and usage of Scottish Highland dress was transformed over time.


Article first published online: April 13, 2020