Heritage Crafts

Sporran making

The making of sporrans from a range of materials including leather, fur, metal and horsehair.

This craft uses products derived from animals – please read our ethical sourcing statement.
Craft category
Historic area of significance
Area practiced currently
Origin in the UK
12th Century
Current No. of professionals (Main income)
Current No. of professionals (Side income)
Current No. of trainees
Current total No. of serious amateur makers


The sporran (gaelic for purse) originated as a leather bag worn around the waist which served as a bag/pocket to carry oats. These days it is used for cash/keys/card and anything else you’d usually keep in your pocket.

Sporrans are worn at weddings and significant celebrations, St Andrews Day and Hogmanay. They are closely associated with Highland culture and Gaelic culture.

Military sporrans are traditionally made from goat hair and horse hair. They are still widely used in pipe bands and for ceremonial purposes in the UK and Canadian military.


Sporran making shares a number of skills with other crafts disciplines such as leather working. However, the combination of skills and the use of materials such as horsehair make sporran making a highly skilled craft.


Issues affecting the viability

  • Training issues: Lack of training opportunities
  • Raw materials: Difficulty accessing materials on a small scale in Scotland
  • Skills issues: The basic skills of sporran making, such as leather working, are easily accessible but the higher level skills of working with horsehair, skins and mixed materials are specialist and can only be learnt on the job with a skilled sporran maker.
  • Competition from overseas markets: Many sporrans are now made more cheaply overseas for the home and tourist markets leading to a decline in the market for Scottish made sporrans. In 2021 the Government contract for making sporrans for the Scottish Regiments was awarded to a company who will source sporrans made overseas.
  • Supply chain issues: there are increasing gaps in the supply chain for materials and components. For example, some makers are having to cast metal parts that would have previously been bought in.

Support organisations


Training organisations


Craftspeople currently known

Individual craftspeople:

Other information



Sporran maker given marching orders, Mike Wade, The Times, June 05 2021

National Lottery Heritage Fund
Swire Charitable Trust
The Royal Mint
Pilgrim Trust
Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation
William Grant Foundation

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