*** Scottish boys clothes


Scottish boys clothes
Figure 1.--Here we see a Glasgow street sceen about 1916. We see many images of barefoot Scottish children in the early 20th century. It was a indication of poverty. Goven the climate it must have been comcomfortable. We also see relatively few images of Scottish boys wearing kilts.

Scottish boys clothes are of course associated with the kilt. We are not sure, however, how extensively boys wore kilts in Scotland before Queen Victoria and to what extent ordinary boys wore them during the Victorian period. The Royal children are extensively photographed in them, but we know little about ordinary Scottish boys. Actually Scottish boys dressed very similarly to English boys. Historically there have been major differences between Scottish Highlnders and the Lowlanders who were significantly influenced by the neighboring English and before them the Britins and Romans. These differences gradually declined, especially after the disastrous battle of Culloden in 1746. It is the Highland kilt of course that we commonly associate with Scottish boys' wear. Highland boys, like their fathers, did once wear kilts Most Scottish boys, however, today do not own kilts and those that do seldom wear them. From the time that dedicated boys' styles began to appear in the late-18th century, Scottish boys' and other clothing have been heavily influenced by English fashion trends. With the exception of the kilt, Scottish boys have in the 19th and 20th century dressed much as English boys. There is in the 21st century virtually no difference between English and Scottish boys clothing.

The United Kingdom

Scotland today is a part of the United Kingdom along with England, Wales, and Ulster. Scotland was conquered by English armies several times in a long series of bloody wars, but the desire for an independent country was never totally irradicated as was the case in Wales. Even after crushing defeats Scottish armies arose to maintain an indepencent monarchy. Scotland united with England by the Union of the Crowns in 1603 where the Scottish King became King James I of England also. This was followed by the Act of Union and the union of the parliaments in 1707 which created the United Kingdom. King James moved to London. The British flag became the Union Jack flag, a fusion of the English and Scottish flags. The history of Scotland's role in the U.K. is still unfolding. The Scottish Parliament was reformed in 2000 after a referendum to support it passed in 1999. And the English finally returned the Stone of Scoon.


Scotland is the most northerly of the four parts of the United Kingdom. It is one-third of the island of Great Britain in area, but a much smller portion of the population. Yhere is a labd border with modern England to the soujth, but not with Wales. Of course before the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons and the development of England, there were connections with the Celtic peoples to the south before, during, and after the arrival of the Romans (1st century AD). Scotland is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Atlantic approches to the Arctic in the north, and the North Sea to the east. The country is generally divided into four destinct areas: Northern Highlands, Central Lowlands, the sometines ignored Southern Uplands, and the Islands. The Northern Highlands are dominated by rugged terraine and mountain ranges, including the Grampians, Caiurgorms, and Cuillins (actually located in the Idsle of Skye). Ben Nevis on the West is the highest point in Britain. It is this rugged landscape that it made it so difficult for the English and Roman people to subdue the Scots who began as the Picts. The Highlands were the scene of the brutal Highland Clearnces in which the Scittish people were dispaced by sheep (18th-19th cenbturies), leading to the modern Sottish Diasporra. The Central Lowlands lie between the Highlands and the Southern Uplands. It extends from the Firth of Forth in the east to th Firth of Clude in the West, baiucally from Edinburgh to Glasgow. The more spaesely populated Southern Uplands border on England to the south. The terreaine includes hills, lochs, and rivers. While the Higlands includes the higest elevations, the Uplands seem more populated at higher elevations. The former lead mining village of Wanlockhead is located at 467 meters is the highest elevation of any Scottish village. Several island groups lay off the western and northern coasts. The northern islands are further from the coast than the westrern isless. Scotish rivers are more like streams. The longest is the Tay located south of Dundee in the Highlands--famed for its salmon fishery.


Scotland’s geology has been described as 'world-class', meaning really interesting. There are examples of many of the major geological pricess observable in Scotland. This includes the movements of tectonic plates, mountain building, volcanism, ice ages, sea-level change and the processes of erosion and deposition. Geologists study rocks much like anthropologists study pottery. Rocks formed over the 4.5 billion years of earth's history. Plate tectonic over time created the many different rock types. The geological diversity can be sceen Scotland’s magnificent scenery. Different geoplogical processes have sculpted Scotland the Highlands and Lowlands with the firths and the islands, the glens, lochs and serrated mountain ridges. The most famous rock in Scotland is the Cumberland Stone, an Ice Age eratic which featured in the Nattle of Cullode (1746).


The British isles has over time time been populated by many different people. It has never until modern times been populated by by a single united people. Many different people have inhabited the northern part of Britain. The Romans called the northern area Caladonia and after failing to subdue the fierce norther tribes built Hadrians Wall to keep them out of their prosperous new province. Scotland in the modrn sence did not emerge until the Roman departure from Britain. It was an almallgum of native Picts, Irish, Cektic Britons fleeing north from the Anglo-Saxon invaders, and others. Much of the rest of Scottish history is the struggle to remain independent from the more powerful English kingdom to the south. The Anglo -Saxons were unable to get a foothold north of Northumbria. This changed with the Advent of the Normans. Edward I conquered Wales and seem posed to quickly conquer Scotland. William Wallace made it a much more difficult proposition. Robert the Bruce firmly established Scottish indepedence. Scotland was swept by the Reformation. Scotland was joined in a personal union in the person of King James I. Scotland played a major role in launching the English Civil War. The personal union in the person of the monarchy was followed by the Act of Unionn under Queen Anne. Scotland played an important role in the Industrial Revolution. The final Highland effort to break with England was the Jacobin rising of 1745 led by Bobby Prince Charlry--the Stuart pretender. This led to the Higland enclosures and immigration, especially to America. While the Scotts failed to break away from England, the backwoods Scott-Irish played a major role in the American success during the Revolutionary War.


The economic history of Scotland begins with the arrival of neolithic humans after the last Ice Age (about 8,500 BC). Some idea can be pieced together from th the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age arifacts found by archeologists. Written accounts begin with the arrival of the Roman Empire (1st century AD). It is at this time modern Scotland began to form, the Romans called it Caledonia. Economic life began to differ between the Roman controlled areas and the area to the north beyond Roman control. Accounts are very limited. The traditional view is that the Picts and other northern tribes were primitive and unwilling or unable to adopt the modern technology brought by the Romans. Some historians argue that the ancient Scotts were more adaptable and advanced than has been thought. One fact is increasingly clear, sea trade was very important to the Scottish economy. This became increasingly important as naval technology improved. England which with the arrival of the Normans became increasingly hostile, blocked land links with Europe. But this is less significant than it may seem. Land transport into modern times was promitive. Trade was conducted by sea. An eastern Scotland faces the Norh sea which provided access to Sandanavia and more importantly the Baltic and the active Hanseatic League traders as well as the Low Countries which became the driving force of the late-Medevial economy. To the west, there was access to Ireland and France. Of course in medieval Europe it was land and agriculyure that was the porimary source of wealth. Not often reported is that Scottis land tenancy deprived the peasantry (agricultural workers) to almost all rights, not only less that the English peasantry, but even the Irish Catholic peasantry. [MacKillop] After interminable distructive wars with England, the Act of Union joined the two countries (1707). From the beginning Scots were poorer than their English compatriots. Enormous changes followed. It led go the deredful Higland Clearances and supression of the Clans. A significant outward migration followed. This provuded access to the developing English empire as well as participation in the Industrial Revolution. As a result, of the industrial development and Scottish Enlightenment, formerly agricultural Scotland became one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe. The driving force here was capitalism and it was notably a Scott, Adam Smith that provided the first clear explanation of capitalism, ironically in the same year the American Recolution broke out (1776). [Smith] The Industrial Revolution led to an explosioin of wealth. There were also social problemns with slums developing in the major cities. Photographer Thoma Annan documented the Hlashow slums. The reliance on smokestack industries and the swing to socialism led to an economic decline following World War II. This has significantly affected both Scotland and northern England. Income levels declined substantially below that of southern England. Scotland in recent years beginning with the Thatcher years has begun to develop a more modern economy leading to a cultural and economic renaissance. Important secgtirs emerging have been financial services sector resulting in large measure from North Sea oil and gas development. Adding to the economic changes has been a devolved parliament. The economic future of Scotland is an open question. Many Scotts like other Europeans have been influenced by an almost religious devotion to socialism. Britain as a whole is now having to adjust to consequences of Socialist Kenysian economics. It is unclear wht the futre holds.


Scottish boys clothing has perhaps changed more over the years than boys clothing in most countries. Conventions for the kilt in particular have changed. Once mostly worn by poor rural boys, today the kilt is most worn by boys from afluent families--mostly when dressing up. Fashions over time have become increasingly similar to English fashions. Boys clothing in the Lowlands have been for centuries influenced by English clothing trends. In the 18th century English fashions began to also affect the Highlands. By the 19th century there was less and less difference betwen th way English andScottish boys dresed. While thekilt was more common in Sotland, in the 20th century it became worn to a much lesser extent. Many Most Scottish boys today do not own a kilt whch is now worn mostly on special occassions. There are today vurtually no differences between the clothes worn by Scottish and English boys.


Scottish boys participate in the same range of activities as do boys in other countries. Here there is a graet similarity with England. Scottish boys will dress simalrly with Englis boys for choir, church, dance, holiday celebrations, music, play, school, Scouts, sport, and a host of other activities. One difference would be the kilts that Scottish boys wear for Highland dancing at either Highland gatherings or other events. Some cottish boys also used to wear kilts for church, but this is now less common except for boys at private schools. Scottish Cubs tend to dress like English Cubs, bit some Scottish Scouts wear kilts when dressing up for special occassions.

Scottish kilts
Figure 2.--Some Scottish boys wore kilts on special occassions. I'm not sure how common it was to wear the kilt on less formal occassions. Here a boy makes a presentation to the Queen in the late 1920s or early 1930s.


Scottish boys now dress rather much like boys in England and the rest of the United Kingdom. The Highland kilt is the garment most associated with Scotland. The Scottish kilt as a child's garment is a relatively recent phenomenon. The modern kilt, in fact, dates from only from the 18th century. Highland boys once dressed quite differently commonly wearing kilts. Lowland boys began to adopted English garments much earlier than Highland boys. Today few Scottish boys wear kilts. Boys from affluent families often have kilts and wear them for church or other special occasions. The Scottish caps associated with the kilt were also worn, but we think various styles of flat vaps may have been more common. Another garment widely worn in Scotland, because of the climate, is the sweater. Scottish boys like English boys began wearing short trousers in the early 20th centurt. They were commonly worn by Scottish boys of all ages through the 1950s. Again because of the changeable climate the amoack was another popuar an utilitarian garment.


We notice several styles affecting Scottish fasions. the best know of course are the the ethnic fols syu;les primrily the kilt and other items making up Highland outfits. Another style is parents dressing their children dressing their children im identical or similar outfits. Our Scottish archive is not large emough to tell us how common this was, but we do notice some examples. An example is an unidentical Aberseen family with all the children wearing dresses.


We do not know a great deal about girls' clothing in Scotland. We do know that until after the mid-20th century Scottish girls like girls in other countries mostly wore dresses. as far as we know styles were identical to those worn in England. There were of course plaid dresses and skirts. Presumably they were more common in Scotland thsn Englasnd, but the photographic record does not show that either was particularly common. There does not seem to be anything comparble to boys Highland kilt outfits. This was one reason tht Aboyne outfits were created. There are two different styles, but this is a fairly modern creation and only worn for dance competitions. Unlike the similar dirdl fashion in Germany, it is not a style commonly worn even for folk ce;ebrations. We only see it bing worn by Higland dancers. We have begun to collect information on girls dresses, but at this time see no real difference between England and Scotland.


Clothing and textiles used to account for a mich more substantial share of economic activity than is the case today. Thus textiles have played an important historical role. A very useful website provides detailed information on Scottish textiles. The site has information and images on the history and development over the years of Scotland's textile industry. Information ranges from embroidery, textile art works, textile machinery, tweeds and tartans, haute couture garments, trade union banners to records and industry business records. Access is by a database search for key words or subjects.The website describes itself, "This groundbreaking pilot project aims to provide a one-stop shop for anyone wanting information about the richness and diversity of Scottish Textile heritage collections. Users will be able to browse through a database of some 4,000 descriptions of archive and museum collections and objects with supporting images. Led by Heriot-Watt University and funded by a Scottish Museums Council Strategic Change Award, the project is surveying and documenting important collections of material relating to Scottish textile heritage within the 6 partner museums and archives as well as providing links to significant collections held elsewhere in Scotland and the UK."

Industrial Revolution in Scotland

The Industrial Revolution began in England during the mid-18th century. Most of the early developments centered in the textile industry, primarily cotton textiles. The developments gradually spread to other countries, the first was Scotland. This was of coursr Scotland and England were joined in tghe United Kingdom. The common language and the fact that the English midlands where the Industrial Revolution began were relatively close to Scotland. The early Industrial Revolution centering on the textile industry centered on the Clyde Valley.


The two principal regions of Scotland are the Highlands and Lowlands. The Highlands are the more traditional norther area of Scotland. The Highland tribes were the center of resistance to English domination. The Lowlands is the southern area. The Lowlands became heavily Anglicized and often cooperated with the English in the pacifuication of the Highlands. This regional split was reflected in the culture of the two areas. English became widely spoken in the Lowlands before thevHighlands and Lowlanders adopted English fashions while Highlanders continued to war traditional garments like the kilt. The offshore islands are another region of Scotland. In modern times there has been a rivalry between Glasgow and Eduinburgh. Edinburgh and Glasgow have recently been trying to patch over their traditional rivalries so that they can co-operate in marketing both cities - and Scotland in general. But quite what Edinburgh will make of a new masterplan by Glasgow City Council to improve the city's image and presence in Europe by promoting Glasgow as "Scotland's international capital" is anyone's guess. A City Council spokesman pointed out that Glasgow is Scotland's largest city (factually correct) and is its largest provider of jobs and production. It also provides service, retail, educational, cultural, leisure and entertainment facilities on a national scale. He went on to say that it is no idle boast to claim Glasgow is Scotland's international capital. Hopefully, Edinburgh will haughtily disdain such upstart comments, safe in the knowledge that it has been Scotland's capital city and seat of government for centuries.

Hair Styles

We have very limited information on hair styling trends in Scotland as our Scottish archive is still fairly limited. Our basic assessment at this time is that Scottish boys' hair styles were essentially the same as styles in England to the south. We see the same styles we note in England in our Scottish archive. We do not know if the popularity or time line varied to any degree. We hope to refine our assessment as more informtion becomes available on Scotland. Hopefully our Scottish readers will provide us some insights here.

Face Painting

There is a historic tradition of face painting in Scotland. The American film "Braveheart" helped spawn the modern reappearance of face painting in Scotland. It does go back to the early Scot, but it would be more decorative and only put on for battle and so not for boys. The blue and white come from the Scottish flag. People have it done for football matches and unlike the original Scottish face pinting, it is especially popular with boys.

Individual Experiences

HBC has received from readers or noted a few indivisual accounts about growing up in Scotland and boyhood clothing. We also have old photographic images of Scottish boys phs. The accounts run the gammit from growing up on a council estate to experiences on a country estate. Readers from both state and private schools have contributed accounts. We hope to add more such accounts to provide a fuller picture of Scottish boys clothing. These personal accounts have provided, for example, some insights on wearing kilts in Scotland. It once was quite common, but buy the 1960s had declined significantly. We are unsure, however, with the revival od Scottish natioanlism to what extent the kilt is worn today. Hopefully our Scottish readers will provide some insights.


We have just begun to build a page on Scottish families. We do not yet have much information. These family sections are helpful because they not only illustrate boys clothing, but the clothing worn by other members of the family, girls and adults. And since various members of the family are in these portraits, they are time capsules showing what types of clothing was worn at any given time.


We know very little about per-Christian religious practices in Scotland. The Picts and Celts were per-literary societies. All that has survived are place names. Historians believe that Pictish religion was basically similar to Celtic tribal polytheistic paganism. With the Picts this seems to have involved goddess worship and a devotion to nature. When had unusual status among the Picts. There was profound respect for specific sites deemed to have been of supernatural origins. Here goddess lived or even performed supernatural miracles. Christianity was introduced to Britain by the Romans, especially after Constantine ended the persecution of Christians--the Edict of Milan (314). We can thus date the history of Christianity in Scotland to the Roman era (about 350 AD) as small numbers of Christians probably appeared beyond Hadrian's all. The Christianization of Scotland began first in the west (Ireland) and then the south (England). The Irish or Celtic Church arrived first. Christianity came to Ireland from Roman Britain. The first contact would have been Irish raiders attacking Roman Britain. Part of the booty the raiders sought was taking Britons captive and selling or using them as slaves (4th century). Some of these captives were probably the first Christains to arrive in Irelans. One of these captives of course was Patrick. Patrick escaped his captors and returned to Irekand as a missionary a years later. St. Patrick was a major force is Christianizing the Irish who then began Christianizing the Picts and othee people of Scotland. Patrick of course was not the only missionary involved. Records in the Vatican library show that that there enough Christians in Ireland for Pope Celestine to send them a bishop (431). This was Palladius, but we know nothing about him other than his name. The number of Christian converts in Ireland gradually increased and the ancient Celtic religion eventually disappeared. Ultimately the Celtic Church began spreading the Gospel in Scotland, including the Highlands. St. Ninian was the first important missionary beginning the conversion of the southern Picts (early 5th century). This was when the Roman Legions were departing Britain. So the process continued without state authority and at the point of the spear. Pictland was influenced by Iona and the Irish Church. There were also influences from the south--churches in Northumbria. Here the warlike Picts resisted the Romans. And the Romans never conquered Scotland or ventured into Ireland. The Roman Legions Left Britain (411 AD). With the Legions gone (early-5th century), Christianity did not disappear, but existed along with Traditional Celtic religion. It is likely that that the Legions left Britain that some Christians existed in the Scottish Lowlands, even though it was north of Hadrian's Wall. Pope Gregory the Great noticed blond children in Roman slave markets. He dispatched the Augustinian mission to Christianize Britain (596). 【Mayr-Harting, p. 50.】 Within a century, southern Britain had been Christianized. All of this mean that for a time there were two competing churches in Scotland. the Irish church and the Roman church established in what was becoming England. Columba arrived on Iona (563). St. Kentigern died (612). Pagan Anglo-Saxon tribes invaded and established kingdoms throughout what is now England. The northern kingdom was Northumbria. There is some evidence that it began as a Celtic state, perhaps with Roman beginnings. Paulinus and the Irish cleric Aidan converted Northumbrian ruilers and the population soon followed (630s) which as it bordered Scotland would impact the Picts. As one historian relates, "Where the Roman Empire failed to conquer the Picts, the Christian Church succeeded." 【McHardy. p.93.】 Gradually the Anglo-Saxons were converted. But Northumbria was the northern extent of Anglo-Saxon rule. Then came other pagan invaders. Skye and Iona raided by Vikings. (795). Edward the Great rallied Wessex, preventing the Danes/Vikings from completing the conquest of England. That as in the south, but had significant implications for Scotland. Among other matters, It meant that Christianity would prevail throughout the British Isles. Roman Catholicism dominated Scotland, although the Celtic Church left an imprint. Then after nearly a millennium came the Protestant Reformation. Protestant teaching reached Scotland only a few years after Martin Luther launched the Reformation. Merchants and the minor nobility were the first to embrace the Reformation, not only for religious reasons, but as a vehicle for independence from both England and France. The Reformation grew in Scotland faster than in England, e think in part because in became associated with Scottish nationalism and also because the royal government in Scotland did not have the same ability to suppress it as did the English monarchy. The work of John Knox and others led to the establishment of the protestant Church of Scotland (1560). It would play an important role in the demise of the Stuart monarchy and its desire to establish absolutist rule--the Bishop's War (1639-40). This led to the English Civil War (1642-51). There have been breakaway Protestant sects leading to the formation of the Free Church of Scotland, the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland, but the Church of Scotland has remained strong. And immigration from Ireland has lead to the Catholic Church becoming increasingly important especially beginning in the mid-19th century. Religion became one of the defining elements of national identity. The Act of Union (1707) was only possible because the English agreed to accept a separate Protestant Church of Scotland. Presbyterianism has thus until recently been a key element in defining what it means to be Scottish. This of course leads to divisions within society as the religious map became more diverse, including the divisions within Presbyterianism. This may have contributed to the decline of organized religion in Scotland, although this is part of an overall decline in Europe as the population becomes increasingly secularized.


Scotland has experienced significant outgoing migration. Not as significant as Ireland, but still substantial. The first wave was voluntary, Lowlanders who formed the bulk of the colonists in the Protestant Plantations of Ulsrer. A century later, alienated by the Crown and lanlords, these people became the Scotts-Irish in America. The substantial emigration began with the Highland Clearances after Culloden (1746). The Higlanders were burned and otherwise forced off their land and the clans supressed. This was a forced migration, desperte people deprived of their livlihood. The first wave were largely Gaelic-speaking Higlanders from Western Scotland and the Islands, many of whom were still Catholic. They were followed by a more diverse group of mostly Presbeterians, including many Lowlanders in much larger numbers. There are now Scottish communitie all over the world, primarily America and British Empire countries. We are preparing Scotting immigration pages on America, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.


Scotland was not involved in the early research on photography. After the announcements by Daguerre in France and Talbot in England (1839), Scotts immediately began to take an interest. James Howie held a daguerreotype exhibition on Princes Street (1839). Pioneering work was done by Hill and Adamson (early-1840s). David Octavius was a painter working on a large commemorative work on the people involved in forming the Free Church of Scotland (1843). He used photography to help capture images of the church elders that he could then paint. .Shortly after the dawn of photography, the unlikely partnership between the respected painter Hill worked with a young engineer, Robert Adamson and together they produced some of the earliest photographic images of Scotland. They concentrated on the calotype process and produced several thousand imahes at their studio at Rock House, As in England, Daugerreotypes are relatively rate, but in the 1860s we begin to see large numbers of CDVs. A rare early female photographer was Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-79). Her photiography began in middle age when her daughter gave her a camera. She photographed celebrities as well as producing experimental images with Arthurian and other legendary themes.


There is a great deal of fashion information in literature. As it is literature and not actual history, the comments on clothing have to be taken with caution. Authors vary as to how accurately they write about fashion and other historical cultural matters used to flesh out their plots and characters. Of course the most reliable fashion references are those in contemprary works. There are various types of literature of interest to HBC. We note useful information in both novels and children literature. Of special interest to HBC is the large number of boy characters in British literature. Of course one helpful aspect of many books are the often fascinating literature.

Reciprocal Links

Thank you for your interest in our site. If using any of our material, partially or in full, we ask that you always provide an active hyperlink to the pages that you have consulted.


Mac Killop, Andrew. Scotland and the American Revolutioin (2019).

McHardy, Stuart. A New Hustiory of the OPicts.

Mayr-Harting, Henry (1991). The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England<./i> (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991).

Smith, Adam. The Wealth of Nations (1776).


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Created: July 21, 1998
Last updated: 6:15 PM 2/6/2023