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  1. #1
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    History and proper use of the kilt ribbon question

    Anyone, OC perhaps,

    I have not been able to satisfy my curiosity concerning the kilt ribbons. What I know is that they were (are) worn in the military by officers and NCOs. I would like to know more in this regard. I've seen some pipers sporting them very well, but I don't know the "rules" They are a bit more than mere fashion, but I find little history on the specifics.

    I am doing research for para-military application so more research is much better than too little. If you can guide me to where to look for quality information then I will continue to do my own homework. Thank you all.

    I have little or no experience with foreign military and custom and it is not so common (yet) here in the states.

  2. #2
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    Just for your information kilt ribbons are part of the uniform in some Highland Regiments and worn by the Officers and some senior NCO's, not all. In my experience, civilians do not wear them, although I can see no reason why they shouldn't, apart from perhaps, practicality.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

  3. #3
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    The ribbons, and probably the related rosettes, have their origin in the early kilt waist-ties, and probablly the even older use of ribbons and loops for attaching the upper portion of a plaid to a coat, often by a button or corresponding loop.

    I don't know when the military started using them on the kilt arpon but I'd guess during the Victorian era. All the earlier examples I've seen have been civilian ones from the mid-late Highland Revival period (c1800-30).

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  5. #4
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    As for pipers using kilt rosettes.

    Besides officers and NCOs, Pipe-majors of many Scottish regiments usually wore the rosettes (or Gaelic knots) on their kilts as decorations.

    PMs of Scots Guards, Black Watch, Royal Scots Fusiliers and later Royal Highland Fusiliers, A&SH, and some other regiments, and Irish too...

    Probably the first evidence of pipers kilts rosettes is picture of piper G. Clark from 71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot, 1808-09, see there http://www.scottishmilitaryarticles....18031815_3.htm

    regards,
    Mikhail

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackwatch70 View Post
    Probably the first evidence of pipers kilts rosettes is picture of piper G. Clark from 71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot, 1808-09, see there http://www.scottishmilitaryarticles....18031815_3.htm
    Mikhail,

    I'm not sure that those are rosettes on Piper Clark's kilt. Rather, I think that they are ribbon bows; i.e. they were tied and not sewn. There are ribbons on two surviving early military kilts that look would have look like those in the Clark watercolour when tied.

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  8. #6
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    Thank you for the input.

    I was wondering what the requirements were for the ribbons and such. I have seen people wearing them currently, but most have been prior military (I think). "Wee" Gordon Walker looks great with them.

    I was wondering what the faux pas would be.

  9. #7
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    Any civilian could put them on his kilt. No rules about them in civilian dress. They show up in many 19th and 20th century images of civilians.

    In the five post-1809 kilted Highland regiments only the 42nd and 93rd wore them. They were worn by sergeants and officers, including pipers who were sergeants and above; in other words there was no special usage by pipers. On the Black Watch/Government/Sutherland tartan of the 42nd and 93rd the ribbons were grass-green, the same colour as the binding around the top of all military kilts. On the Royal Stewart kilts of the Black Watch pipers (the Pipe Sergeant and Pipe Major) they were matching Royal Stewart tartan (the binding remaining grass-green).

    The earliest image I have to hand of the 42nd wearing them is a contemporary print from 1833, of the 93rd, 1834.

    As far as non-kilted regiments go, the pipers were the only ones kilted anyhow, and in some regiments all the pipers wore them regardless of rank. In other words they seemed to be regarded as part of the kilt, one could say.

    I use ordinary dictionary usage when speaking of them, calling the things made like a bow and shaped like a bow a "bow" and the things made like a rosette and shaped like a rosette a "rosette". In this, I fly in the face of the sometimes quirky military terms.

    Now of those five post-1809 kilted regiments only the 92nd wore kilt pins.

    The pipers of the Scots Guards wear both kilt pins and rosettes, all of them regardless of rank



    Pipers of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, just kilt pins for all



    Here's an interesting vintage kilt, most probably civilian, with a vaguely Argyll-ish thing going on



    You see rosettes like these on old civilian kilts fairly often



    About the history, here are early ones that seem to actually be tying the kilt together

    Last edited by OC Richard; 15th December 15 at 05:11 PM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  11. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post

    About the history, here are early ones that seem to actually be tying the kilt together
    And another with ribbons being used for that purpose:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Bruce Scott; 15th December 15 at 10:06 PM.

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  13. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by okiwen View Post

    "Wee" Gordon Walker looks great with them.
    Gordon Walker was a Pipe Major of Royal Highland Fusiliers so kilt rosettes (or ribbons) have been part of his military uniform.
    Last edited by blackwatch70; 16th December 15 at 03:16 AM.

  14. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post

    Now of those five post-1809 kilted regiments only the 92nd wore kilt pins.
    I remember, kilt pins also have been worn by pipers and officers of Seafroth Highlanders in 20c (they was little smaller than Gordon's pattern) and ORs of 2nd and some other battalions of the Black Watch some time after 1881 amalgamation until WWI.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by blackwatch70; 16th December 15 at 03:31 AM.

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