The revival of the kilt
Although the kilt was largely forgotten
in the Scottish Highlands, during those
years it became fashionable for Scottish
romantics to wear kilts as a form of protest
against the ban. This was an age that romanticized "primitive"
peoples, which is what Highlanders were
viewed as. Most Lowlanders had viewed Highlanders
with fear before 1745, but many identified
with them after their power was broken.
The kilt, along with other features of Gaelic
culture had become identified with
Jacobitism and now that this had ceased
to be a real danger it was viewed with
romantic nostalgia. Once the ban was
lifted in 1782 Highland landowners set
up Highland Societies with aims
including "Improvements" (which others
would call the Highland clearances) and
promoting "the general use of the
ancient Highland dress". The Celtic
Society of Edinburgh, chaired by Walter
Scott, encouraged lowlanders to join
this antiquarian enthusiasm.
The kilt became identified with the whole
of Scotland with the the pageantry of the
visit of King George IV to Scotland in
1822, even though 9 out of 10 Scots
lived in the Lowlands. Scott and the Highland
societies organised a "gathering of
the Gael" and established entirely
new Scottish traditions, including Lowlanders
wearing the supposed "traditional"
garment of the Highlanders. At this time
many other traditions such as clan identification
by tartan were developed.
After that point the kilt gathered momentum
as an emblem of Scottish culture as identified
by antiquarians, romantics, and others,
who spent much effort praising the "ancient"
and natural qualities of the kilt. King
George IV had appeared in a spectacular
kilt, and his successor Queen Victoria dressed
her boys in the kilt, widening its appeal.
The kilt became part of the Scottish national