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The Sgain Dubh - Unlocking The Secrets Of The Past

Chris Spencer

Chris Spencer

Highlandwear Sales Advisor
26/06/17 - 3 Minute Read

A Little History

Although the sgian dubh is now used only for ceremonial purposes, its invention dates back to a darker time in Scotland’s turbulent history. There are various theories for the origins of the name, but two are most widely accepted and both are probably true.

It’s universally accepted that sgian translates into blade or dagger. Dubh has more than one meaning however. Experts believe that it refers to the colour of the handle - black - which was traditionally made from bog oak, an extremely hard wood which comes from trees that have been buried in peat bogs and preserved from decay, allowing it to harden over time.

A second translation of dubh is ‘dark’ or ‘hidden’. Following the unsuccessful Jacobite uprising of 1745, Scots were forbidden from wearing the kilt or carrying arms (known as proscription). Almost every man, woman and child in Scotland carried a knife at this time as it was the ultimate accessory for hunting, cooking and eating. The act of proscription meant an end to this and so the sgian dubh then became popular as its size meant that it could be hidden in a secret pocket under the armpit.

When the Highlander visited a house on his travels having left all his other weapons at the front door, he didn’t leave his concealed dagger, since it was unsafe to ever be totally unarmed. This was not because he feared his host, but because of possible intrusion from outside. Accordingly, out of respect for the host, he removed the sgian dubh from concealment and placed it on view in the top of his sock, thus the reason for its placement there in modern ceremonial dress.

The Sgian Dubh Today

We offer a superb range of sgian dubhs to suit every budget and occasion. If you haven't seen them already we also stock sgian dubh gift sets complete with matching kilt pin and cuff links.

For something extra special though, we also have a stunning collection of handmade sterling silver sgian dubhs.

These ceremonial knives are manufactured in Scotland to the highest standards, and will compliment any highland outfit. The time and effort that goes into making each knife is nothing short of amazing. Over 30 individual processes are involved for every sgian dubh, leaving the finished item a beautifully crafted and unique work of art.

Handmade Sterling Silver Sgain Dubhs

Our main supplier of these wonderfully crafted knives is Celtic Art Ltd, a traditional Scottish family business established over 60 years ago. Their expertise in hand crafted Celtic products is second to none and they employ only the most skilled craftsmen.

Our top of the range sgian dubhs are made with the highest quality materials. The blade is stainless steel encased in a leather sheath and the decoration is hallmarked sterling silver. The handle is fashioned from ebony, a valuable black hard wood, and is topped with a smoky quartz stone, a semi precious gemstone.

Each hand made sgian dubh takes an average of eight hours to make, although more intricate pieces can take much longer. Needless to say the skills needed to create such stunning objects are only acquired over a long period of time. As a result very few people can make the claim to be a true Celtic craftsman. This explains why Celtic Art Ltd is extremely proud of their team.

We are confident that the quality and uniqueness of these fine sgian dubhs make a wonderful choice for that special gift.

Chris Spencer

Chris Spencer

Highlandwear Sales Advisor
26/06/17
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Buyers Guide: Sgian Dubhs

Alexander Scott founded his company in 1925, opening his shop in Aberdeen, Scotland. Today Alex Scott & Co is one of the oldest and most recognised retailers in Aberdeen.

Like any continuously successful business they have adapted to change in both their product range and the technology used to bring it to the customer. kiltmakers.co.uk is the online representation of a long established family business which puts quality and customer service first as a key to its success.

Alex Scott & Co (Kiltmakers) Ltd.
Proud to be Scotts and proud to be Scottish.

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