Scottish Dirks
Few other cultures capture the American heart like the Highlander culture of Scotland in the 17th-18th century.  To many this culture is symbolized by it's blades- particularly the Dirk.  I make my dirks to historical models, but use not merely period woods like Dudgeon and Ebony but also a variety of other exotic hardwoods.  Detailing is sometimes ancient, sometimes moder- most often a mix of the two but always seeking to capture the essence of these iconic weapons.  Keep an eye out for Dirks on the front
page- they will be coming up occasionally.  Also check out the new Dirk Archive!

The Scottish Dirk as we know it today originated in the mid 17th century as a developement of the Ballock Dagger.  Originally hilts seem to have been simple with bands of incised knotwork and were of carved Boxwood(Dudgeon) or Bog Oak, but by the end of the 17th century this had evolved to elaborate relief carvings covering the hilt, often with carved 'knobs' rather like rounded nail-heads in between the carved bands of the knotwork.  In the early 18th century these knobs were replaced by actual nail-heads in brass or silver and fittings grew more elaborate.  It was also in this period that swords were prohibited in Scottland and many fine backsword blades were reworked into dirk blades.  It is dirks of this early 18th century style that are now widely referred to as 'Jacobite Dirks' to distinguish them from later military dirks.  After Prince Charlie's revolt of 1745 dirks were prohibited as were all other 'Weapons of War-' including bagpipes!  Dirks survived in the British army's Highland Regiments, and by the end of the 18th century had for the most part assumed the familiar 'Thistle Hilt' form of the Victorian Era which is most familiar today from the many surviving 'Regimantal Dirks.'

The Sgian Duhb's history is a bit murky-  The term Sgian Duhb means literally 'Black Knife.'  This does not refer to an ebony handle as was common in the 19th century for uniform knives of the Highland Regiments, but rather 'Black' as in 'Black Ops.'  These were a hide-out weapon and could be concealed anywhere on the person.  Tradition has it that when entering the home of freinds the knife would be removed from hiding and tucked into the boot-top in plain veiw as a gesture of good faith.  This is said to be the origin of the military custom of wearing the Sgian Duhb in the stocking garter with the dress kilt.  Prior to the 19th century there are few blades that we can point to and say definitively 'This is a Sgian Duhb," but these seem to have been simple, small single edged knives suitable for cencealed carry. 
Neither do we know how far back into antiquity the custom of carrying the Sgian Duhb goes but one would guess it goes back at least as far as the 18th century.



'Jacobite' style dirks and conjectural 'Early' Sgian Duhb

 
Victorian era 'Thistle Hilt' style dirk