Just a few tartans are classed as restricted wear, for example the Balmoral tartan which can only be worn by members of the British Royal Family, and also several tartans restricted to certain clan members only. To find out whether your surname or clan has a tartan associated with it, visit the website of the Scottish Register of Tartans.
Which tartan is associated with my clan?
You can also use the A-Z guide to browse the tartans. MORE: When is tartan day? The Scottish Register of Tartans also registers new tartans , including those created for individuals, schools, groups and other organisations. But if you can't find one you like, there are many alternatives.
Don't worry! The spelling of names was only recently formalized, and names mutated as members migrated.
So many spelling variations exist for the same family name. There were a couple of other Highland Societies and Celtic Societies that followed on, but they were almost exclusively manned by Highland gentry. MacDonald: It became romanticized, really, from the late 18th century, but particularly at the beginning of the 19th century.
By the early 19th century, tartan had suddenly become, through the aegis of Scott, a symbol of pan-Scottish identity, along with the kilt. We can see a number of tartans, which are quite popular clan tartans today, that owe their origins or their names to that period. A tartan with a Wilsons of Bannockburn label. MacDonald: Yeah, and he wrote Rob Roy , and Red Gauntlet , followed by a whole series of books, which were about, in one form or another, the Jacobite struggle. Wilsons would name a pattern after anything that would help the tartan sell. You can look at the tartan industry as the exemplars of branding in the early s.
MacDonald: I think if you were to pick a point, then that would be it. Because from around , you start to see tartans having family names. But the fact that, in , when Sir Walter Scott urged everyone to turn out to see the king in their tartan, you suddenly had a whole load of Lowland lairds who had never worn tartan or the kilt needing to get one. And I should say the Highland Society of London in formed the first private collection of clan tartans, to which all the Highland chiefs submitted a sealed specimen of their tartan.
John Sobieski Stewart, who with his brother, Charles Edward Stewart, invented a number of clan tartans for their book, Vestiarium Scoticum. They said it was based on a 16th- or 17th-century manuscript, which was a bit like the glasses supposedly used by Mormonism founder Joseph Smith—no one ever saw or found it. The tartan history in the book is complete fabrication, but a lot of those tartans are popular clan tartans today. And they obviously have a history that goes back years now. The inventions are traditional now, bearing in mind that 20 years before then, Wilsons was inventing or giving names to clan tartans.
The majority of those will not have clan names, because they were not known by clan names at that time, although some may subsequently have been adopted as clan tartans. Most of them you will not find if you look in a book on tartans, because the majority are taken from fragments and pieces that have been reconstructed.
Sir Walter Scott, I think, deliberately set out to heal some of the internal Scottish wounds and hatred, to some degree, between the Highlands and the Lowlands.
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As I say, he developed this pan-Scottish identity. Tartans became a Scottish family thing. Wilsons—and others later—just jumped on the bandwagon because it was a great marketing ploy, the company made lots and lots of money. Not long after that, Prince Albert and Queen Victoria bought Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in , and the whole love affair of Scottish schmaltz just went into overdrive.
The exterior of Balmoral Castle in Photo by Stuart Yeates, via WikiCommons. MacDonald: Absolutely. Everything from carpets and rugs to clothing to bedspreads and upholstery to tartan-ware, which includes things like check-patterned boxes, dishes, and books. Around that time, a machine called the Apograph —a pen-ruling system that could draw on paper very accurately—was developed. Tartans could then be formed around objects such as needle cases or vases, all sorts of things.
Tartan-ware from the s through to about the s, is actually worth quite a lot of money if you get your hands on any. Prince Albert leased and then purchased the Castle at Balmoral for Queen Victoria in and erected an even bigger castle there in The British royals covered the interior with tartan patterns.
Via BalmoralCastle. MacDonald: I was commenting on something just today on an online blog where someone had repeated, yet again, that with the advent of chemical dyes, you got more complex designs and more colors available to you. You can have the same range of colors and shades, and therefore, the number and complexity of patterns. There are a number of 18th-century patterns which have a tremendous range of colors and shades, that just disprove the belief we had to wait till aniline dyes to get the range of colors.
Modern asymmetric reconstruction of the Glenaladale sett.
A Guide To Buying Tartan In Scotland
Really, the whole idea of the hunting tartan dates to the late 19th century. Around or so you start to see a range of these hunting tartans, which are principally existing clan tartans with brown in them replacing the red. And there are tartans designed all over the world. In Scotland, the Scottish Register of Tartans is the official government-sponsored repository where you register the tartans.
A lot of my work is about restoring or preserving old specimens, etc. But we keep them preserved, because if you like, they are the true tartans. And there are quite a number of fashion colorways going around at the moment, which are popular. They wear their kilts far more often than the people in Scotland do. Because you have a relatively young country, everybody is ethnically from somewhere else. Scottish Americans will host and dress up for Scottish nights very frequently.
Tartan historian Peter MacDonald handweaving the MacDonald of Glenaladale tartan on a traditional single box flying shuttle loom. Photo credit: EF Williams.
Why England’s welly-wanging nationalists need a tartan makeover
MacDonald: Those two are the most popular tartans, and they have been done to death in pencil coverings and tins and all sorts of things. You see them all over the place, right through to Vivienne Westwood. The punk scene, in particular, used the Royal Stewart.
After denim, I would have to say that tartan is probably the most popular textile in the world. Beginning in the s, British punks adopted the Royal Stewart tartan, and others, without permission from the Queen. Via Retro Shop Dublin.
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Yes, RJ Price, it is an excellent article. But where, pray tell, was an aspersion cast on a major religion? Mention was made of Catholicism and Protestantism, but neither was singled out as preferable. A bit over sensitive, are we?