The latest episode of Season 6 of Outlander saw Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) don a kilt while he was out and about on Fraser’s Ridge.
While Jamie is Scottish, and this shouldn’t be so unusual for the character, it has actually been some time since he has donned the traditional attire. Because of this, some viewers were taken aback — although they were entirely happy to see Jamie’s knees again.
But why was Jamie wearing a kilt after such a long time?
Kilts are illegal during the 1770s
The wearing of kilts was very popular at the start of Outlander. However, thanks to the Battle of Culloden and the Jacobite uprising, King George II banned the wearing of kilts from 1746. According to the Scotland Kilt Company, this ban lasted 35 years and would mean that during the 1770s it was still illegal to don the garb.
As pointed out by Digital Spy, the banning of kilts and tartan cloth was brought to viewers’ attention in the Season 6 premiere of Outlander.
During a flashback scene to Ardsmuir prison, where the introduction of Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones) occurred, Jamie took the blame — and punishment — for another man who had possession of a scrap of tartan. It was here that the illegality of the item was discussed.
Sam Heughan, who portrays Jamie, also reiterated this fact in a recent Tweet when a fan queried it.
“I’m also curious…why the return of the kilt…to go fishing?” Twitter user Crystal wrote.
Sam Heughan responds to Twitter query
“It was still illegal to wear a kilt at that time,” Heughan wrote.
“Punishment would be huge. Jamie can’t risk it in the presence of the crown, especially potentially working for them.”
While Jamie has not been seen wearing a kilt in public for quite some time, it is still his favored item of clothing when in private.
However, when he’s alone, on his own land with no risk, he can reveal who he really is….”
While kilt-wearing was illegal, it seemed highly unlikely that the law would be enforced in North Carolina, where Jamie now resides in the 1770s.
When Jamie donned a kilt in the Season 5 premiere of Outlander, the topic was discussed back then and the author of the Outlander books, Diana Gabaldon, explained how it was highly unlikely that any action would be taken.
“Nobody cared to enforce a law like that–pointless in the Colonies in 1770-ish,” Gabaldon wrote in a tweet.
“Neither was there a large force to spare; the British regulars couldn’t cover even a third of the territory– thus the push to enlist Loyalists to militia companies.”
Season 6 of Outlander currently airs every Sunday night on Starz.