Whit came afore clan tartans?

District tartans

Can ah hae yer een for a wee minute tae threid aboot tartan? We aw ken aboot clan an faimily tartans, but dae ye ken whit came afore clan tartans?

If we were tae gang back a few hunner year, we'll no find the system o clan tartans as we ken it noo. Afore the clan codification o tartans whit stertin in the early 19th century, particular tartans were maislty associated wi single weavers.

Naturally yon weavers were in specific locations. An sae tae begin wi, maist tartans were kent as bein frae a distinct district.

Wi much o Scotland existin unner the clan system, ower time the link atween a tartan in a particular location an the dominant clan in that area grew. Then came the Dress Act o 1746, seen as a punishment o Heelanders efter the failed Jacobite uprisin the year afore.

Black Watch tartan

Whilst the act didnae ban tartan in the wey maist fowk think, the affect o it was mair nor less that same. Heelan dress wis oot an anely sodjers were permitit tae wear kilts.

A lot o Scots regiments had bi this time awready adoptit their ain tartan, as a form o identification. For example, the Black Watch (or Government) tartan is basically the tartan that wis maist prevalent in Campbell territory, sine three o the sax companies o the Watch were Campbell led.

Ower the thirty-sax year the act was law, maist weavers lost their tartan makkin skills. At the same time, the Heelan Clearances decimatit the population. When the Act wis finally repealed in 1782, few district tartans remained an a hale wheen o Heelanders an their kilts were gone.

It wis the gentry whit brocht the cloth back frae the brink. The myth o the noble Heelander grew, societies were formit an tartan became the heicht of fashion. It became the in thing for the gentry tae hae a tartan named efter themsels. Thus wis born the clan an faimly tartan.

Aberdeen tartan

But whit o the district tartan? Weil, some survived the Act an, ower time, mair hae been designed. The day there are plenty tae choose frae.

Whan a came tae draw tartans for ma shop, a decidit tae draw the yins for oor cities. First up is Aiberdeen. Its tartan wis designed bi Wilsons o Bannockburn in 1782. It haes an unco muckle sett. There's hairdly a repetition o it on ma airt.

This is Dundee #2 tartan. Whilst the designer an date arnae kent, it's based oan Dundee tartan, whit is said tae hae been patternt oan a jacket worn by Bonnie Prince Chairlie in 1746.

Puir Embra. It didnae get a tartan until Hugh Macpherson creatit yin in 1970 tae merk the Commonwealth Gemmes.

Glesga, houaniver, isnae sic a late comer. Yince mair, Wilsons o Bannockburn made this in 1790. Their 1819 pattern book caws it 'Glasgow Rock and Wheel.'

Stirling and Bannockburn tartan

Innerness dates tae 1829, houaniever it is recordit as bein made for Augustus, Earl of Inverness, afore 1822.

Perth, sad wee Perth, disnae hae a district tartan.

It was agen Wilsons o Bannockburn whae, appropriatly eneuch, designed the Stirlin and Bannockburn tartan, whit wis originally made in 1847 for the Stirlin an Bannockburn Caledonian Society.

For reasons, ah drew the Leith tartan. Leith's Kinloch Anderson came up wi this for the Tall Ships visit in 1995. It's based oan the Robertson tartan tae honour former Leith shipbuilders Henry Robb.

In mair recent times, district tartans for hale countras hae got their ain tartan. A guid deal o this can be traced back tae the Scots diaspora spreadin roond the wurld. Forfar-born Jack Cumming designed the American tartan in 1975 an presentit it tae First Lady Betty Ford in 1976.

Caledonia tartan

The Australia tartan dates tae 1984 an wis creatit bi John Reid using the tartan o Lachlan Macquarie, the second Scots born governor o the Australian Colony of New South Wales in 1809. The colours were inspired bi the ootback.

Ah drew the Catalan because independence, obviously. It was designed by Viv Sharp in 1992, tae commemorate that year's Olympic Gemmes, an is made efter the Catalan flag, the Senyera.

Finally, we come tae the Caledonia tartan. Whilst this isnae a district tartan – an there's disagreement ower its origin – ah wis keen tae draw yin that coud be cawed a national tartan for Scotland.

…acause a ken if there's yin tartan that will bring the cringe, it's oor maist famed tartan, Royal Stewart.

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