Whats in a name? The Sporran Guy takes a brief look at types of sporran

There are various types of sporran that are distinguished by particular names. Illustrated below are 4 of the basic sporran styles. As I discuss the different styles, it is important to keep in mind that even amongst kilt enthusiasts there is some disagreement as to the veracity of the style names. My thought is that the style names I am referring to are in common usage to describe the different types of sporran, no matter how "authentic" the names may or may not be. These types are discussed in no particular order.


Sporran A is commonly know as a "Hunting Style".  The common features of this style of sporran are a top closure,  a basic pouch style body consisting of a front, back and side gusset. There are no "historical" dimensions to this style and the overall shape of the sporran can very widely. The most recognized shape of the sporran body is oval in shape, although there are many variations, as seen in  my example illustrated here. The Hunting style sporran usually has it's own sporran belt, which means it is not hung directly from, or reliant on, the kilt belt. Some kilt enthusiasts hold that the Hunting Sporran has no historical provenance in kilt wearing history, and that it was just a clever, or not so clever, name invented in the early 20th century to sell yet more sporran. Even if that is the case, the name has stuck to this style of sporran and is favored by many, despite is lack of usefulness in the act of hunting.     

Sporran B is the ever popular "Rob Roy" style. This one of two styles of sporran that probably most closely resembles the sporrans predecessor, the belt bag. I put the Rob Roy in parentheses because it is oft derided as an actual sporran style, I think because we can't point to an actual sporran that looks like this with a provenance connecting the style directly to Rob Roy himself. Be that as it may, it is a name of a sporran style that is in common usage, so from that aspect, I believe it is a legitimate sporran style, whether or not there is any actual connection to the historical personage of Roy Roy MacGregor.  It's form is a drawstring bag, the drawstring being the means by which the top of the bag is closed, and having a flap to protect the top opening from the elements. The are variations on how it is worn depending on how it is made. It could fit directly onto the kilt belt, hang from a belt loop on the kilt belt, or have it's own integral belt so that it is worn independent of the kilt belt. Size, colors and shapes vary wildly with Rob Roy sporran.

Sporran C Is the sporran style commonly referred to as a Day sporran. This is usually a sporran with a more plain appearance, although not necessarily. It is also most common for the style to rely on designs worked into the leather and less on metallic embellishments. The Day sporran is a basic gusseted leather pouch with a covering leather flap and more commonly includes its own sporran belt.The illustration below illustrates some standard patterns (circa 1936).


The D sporran is known as the Hair-On, fur or full mask sporran. This sporran is distinct as it features the untanned pelt as the main focal point of the sporran design. This type of sporran can be of pouch construction like the Day Sporran or other examples, like most Horse hair sporrans, have a small external pouch with a snapped flap for the wearers valuables. Many of the more formal hair-on sporran will be made with a cantle of silver as well as other silver embellishments. You will see kilt wearers sporting the hair-on/full mask sporran as everyday sporrans, although I personally see them as more of a formal wear kilt accessory. 


The above is a Fox Full Mask Sporran and a Fox Fur Dress Sporran with silver cantle
(by permission of maker, Kate Macpherson, https://www.katemacphersonsporrans.co.uk/)

The above mentioned Horse Hair Sporran has historically existed as a military sporran. Today you will also commonly see pipers and Pipe Majors wearing it as a standard accessory to their kit. Below is a typical example of a Military Horse Hair Sporran, including the external pouch on the back of the sporran.


This is my brief look at the variety of sporran available to the kilt wearer. I bet you never knew there was so much to know about sporran! I could go on, but I'll leave that to another time!

Thanks for reading.


"The Sporran Guy"


Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published