About the Sporran

sporran/sporən/       pronounced: sp-awe-rin     

derived from Galiec sporan 'purse'

What is a sporran?

A sporran is a key feature of traditional Highland Dress. Its name derives from Gaelic sporan meaning 'wallet' or 'purse'.

How did it come to be?

As with most elements of the traditional Highland Dress, the exact origins of the sporran are unknown. It is said by some that they originate from around the 12th century and that they were worn chiefly by Scottish Highlanders who used them to carry personal items such as coins. Some claim that the sporran is a descendant of the medieval 'scrip' - a small bag that would be worn over the shoulder.

Early sporrans are very different to the sporrans available today both in style and in how they were worn. Traditional sporrans were said to have been fashioned around the waist by a leather strap with the main pouch sitting on the side of the body against the hip. 

How do I wear a sporran?

The sporran is typically worn on the front of the body approximately 4 or 5 inches from the top of the kilt, or 3 finger widths from the bottom of your waistcoat. It is fashioned by a chain or strap that extends through the loops at the rear of the kilt to fasten at the back.

The sporran should be worn in-line, meaning that the centre of the sporran should match up with the centre of the kilt top and (if you are wearing them) with the centre of your waistcoat buttons and your tie.

How do I choose a sporran?

The earliest sporrans were considered to be a utility rather than a decorative garment and thus tended to be made of simple deer or calf hide. This is a stark contrast to the vast array of styles and materials used for sporrans today. Generally speaking today’s styles of sporran can be organized into three different categories.

Daywear Sporran

The daywear sporran is the most casual sporran suited for daytime functions such as Highland Games or a rugby match.

The Scottish daywear sporran is primarily crafted from dark leather and it tends to be fastened by a flap that comes down over the top of the sporran and fastened with a stud.

See our full collection of daywear sporrans here.

The featured daywear sporran can be found here.

Semi-Dress Sporrans 

As the name suggests, the semi-dress sporran is suited to more formal occasions than the daywear sporran. They are typically suited to Argyll kilt outfits and tend to be worn to functions such as evening dinners or wedding receptions.

The semi-dress sporran commonly consists of a leather backing and gusset (the piece of material that is attached along the sides and bottom of the sporran) and leather sporran flap for fastening. The sporran face, however, is typically made of fur with three tassels hanging over it - perhaps as a tribute to the traditional leather drawstrings that would have hung down over the earliest sporran pouches.

Browse our collection of semi-dress sporrans, or take a look at the featured semi-dress sporran.

Full-Dress Sporrans

The full-dress sporran is the most ceremonial of the sporran types. Typically worn with Prince Charlie kilt outfits, they are best suited for formal occasions such as for the wedding party on the big day. The full-dress sporran typically makes more use of fur than the other sporran types. It is common for them to have 3-6 fur tassels over a fur facing with a fur gusset. The backing, however, is typically still made of leather.

A key feature of a full-dress sporran is the silver or pewter cantle. The cantle is a piece of metal fashioned at the top of the sporran as though framing the top edge. It is typically engraved and can even include your clan badge. Full-dress sporrans usually fasten at the rear of the sporran with a small leather flap held down by a stud. They are the largest of the sporran types allowing for the wearer to accommodate for more personal items.

You can see our collection of full-dress sporrans here, or view the featured dress sporran here.

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