TARTANS DISPLAYED IN THE SCOTIA NEWS







 

Massachusetts  - In honor of American Thanksgiving this month, we are showing the Massachusetts official tartan – The Plymouth Plantation being the most famous of Thanksgiving celebrations (in 1621). Though it was common to have a thanksgivings day, and/or to celebrate the harvest season, this coming together of the pilgrims and native tribes in Massachusetts is the most settled upon and famous as the pivotal one that promoted the day, ultimately in 1863, as a national holiday. The original celebration lasted for 3 days and it is unlikely there were any Scots there.


“This was accepted as the official tartan of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and signed by Governor Romney on May 16th 2003, House Bill #627 (original Scottish Tartans Authority reference). The colors are blue for the Atlantic Ocean, reservoirs, rivers and ponds; green for the Boston Hills, Worcester Hills and the Berkshire Mountains; tan for the beach line from the North to South Shore, Cape and Island and Buzzards Bay, plus red for the apple and cranberry harvests.”


John R. Austin - designer.




 

Independence  - This issue has at its tartan one from the 90’s called Independence. It was designed by Donald Fraser under commission by an organization called New Scots for Independence – and unveiled at a Scottish National Party conference. Though it doesn’t seem to have been much in display during the recent referendum (the predominant image for the Yes campaign was, as might be expected, the Saltire), we thought this would be a good time to showcase it - even if “independence” itself was on the losing side of the recent battle for the immediate future of Scotland and the United Kingdom.






 

Welsh National Tartan  - Wales is one of the 6 (some say 7) Celtic nations – and even today, a rather decently large percentage of the native inhabitants speak Welsh (though it’s doubtful there are any alive who speak only Welsh) – approximately 20 percent. Their history is rich in music, ancient literature and mythology, and much more.


Though their later military regiments in the British army often had a tense, and sometimes unpleasant relationship with their fellow Celtic soldiers-in-arms, the Scots (some regiments were not allowed to be near each other on parade for instance), they seem to be following Scotland’s recent lead in upping their demands for a fair measure of independent (or in this case, devolved) rule. It is a resurgence of the pro-Welsh movement that sprang to life in the 1920’s.


The Welsh never wore tartan as a form of family or district identity, though their ancient fore-bearers probably wore some of the early checked clothing that almost all the Celts wore (continental as well). However, the popularity of tartan which grew in the 19th century has not left Wales untouched, and a Welsh National Tartan has been introduced. There are also many Welsh family and name tartans now being created, though they are all modern in origin.




 

The Gaelic College at St. Ann's  - is the only school in North America dedicated to teaching the Scots-Gaelic language. It also has studies in various aspects of Gaelic culture, with a strong emphasis on music, dance, weaving, and much more. This tartan was designed in 1997 by a past student of the institution, Marie MacDonald.


The Gaelic College At St. Ann's has information about the history of the college.




 

YULE  - is a name with possibly several sources and altered, often purely phonetic spellings over the years (Ewell, for instance, and its variations, which is occasionally, though rarely, used as a first name).


As a last name, it is primarily and predominantly Scottish, though its origins may be English. It was often considered a nickname for someone who was born on Christmas Day, or had some other meaning for an individual with connections for that specific time of year. The Middle-English word indeed means "Christmastide" - but may also have as a source for its origin in Old Norse, and was the name for winter solstice celebrations.





 

Red Lichtie  - Arbroath’s official district tartan was adopted by the Royal Burgh of Arbroath Community Council, 5th Oct 2012. For all, far and near, who have associations with Arbroath.


‘Red Lichtie’ is Scottish north east coast dialect for ‘red light’. Residents of Arbroath, a fishing town on the Scottish north east coast, are affectionately known as ‘Red Lichties’, an ancient nickname that local Arbroathians, as well as those abroad, adopt with a sense of pride. Shrouded in folklore, with different stories being told through the ages, one notable tale is of the ‘Round O’ window of Arbroath Abbey being lit at night with a flame guiding seamen returning from sea. Such a light would certainly have shown mariners where Arbroath was but any ship using it would find itself running aground somewhere east of the actual harbour entrance.


More likely the name originates from Arbroath’s original Parish Church, known as the Lady Chapel. Founded some time before 1455, and located at the north east corner of the marina where the Harbour Master’s office stands today, the chapel fell out of use around 1590. Inside the chapel there burned a red lamp. It is suggested that the folk of Arbroath were familiar with this red lamp or ‘licht’, which is the likely source of the ‘Red Lichtie’ name which they are today all so proud of.


Colours: the white, scarlet and red depict the ‘Red Licht’ and the blues represent the maritime and fishing histories of Arbroath; dark blue representing deep water, the boat building and shipping industries; light blue representing shallow water and the fishing industry; red represents the red sandstone of Arbroath Abbey, and other buildings of the town; the five gold lines (converging on a red background) represent the iconic portcullis (the primary element in the Arbroath Coat of Arms), which used to be located at the entrance of Arbroath Abbey; the maroon shade represents the Arbroath FC, historically also known as ‘The Red Lichties’. Founded in 1878 the club adopted a plain maroon jersey, inspired by the prominent local red sandstone. This remaining their colour ever since. Visit the registrant's website for historical references on the nickname.



This tartan and description was designed and written by Steven Patrick Sim and used with his permission, The Tartan Artisan, 55 Lordburn, Arbroath, Angus, Scotland, DD11 1JD. steve@theTartanArtisan.com



 

The Bell Rock Lighthouse 200th Anniversary Tartan  - The tartan was designed by Steven Patrick Sim - copyright © 2012, and entrusted to The Northern Lighthouse Board, Edinburgh, for use as their corporate tartan.


The tartan was designed to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, first lit on 1 February 1811. Owned and operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board, the lighthouse lies on the treacherous Inchcape Rock (also called Bell Rock), 11 miles off Arbroath, on the Scottish east coast.


Designed and built by John Rennie and Robert Stevenson, but regarded as essentially Robert Stevenson's greatest engineering achievement. The lighthouse stands 35 metres tall. Built with a work force of approximately 110 men, the challenges faced in its construction led to it being described as one of the 'Seven Wonders of the Industrial World'.


The tartan design reflects the flashing lights of the lighthouse: White for the primary, white light, and red for the secondary, red light (when first put into operation the lighthouse flashed an alternating white and red light).


The muted dark blue and black shades represent the treacherous dark North Sea at night.


Solid black commemorates the 1000s of lives lost on Inchcape Rock as well as the men who died during the construction of the lighthouse.


The geometry of the tartan creates two different impressions of the lighthouse on the horizon - when flashing white and when flashing red. When flashing white, 90 threads between the black and white represent the 90 courses of stone blocks that make up the tower.


When flashing red, the lighthouse is represented at a greater distance, standing on the horizon.


To build the lighthouse a number of railways were constructed on the rock to transport the massive blocks of stone. The longest railway (terminating towards the west of Inchcape Rock at Hope's Wharf) extended for 290 feet, represented in the pattern of the tartan, which has a total of 290 threads. The Right Honourable Charles Hope, Lord President of the Court of Session, initiated the building of the lighthouse in 1803, when he presented the first bill to Parliament.


The above description was provided by the tartan's designer, Steven Patrick Sim.



 

Young - Christina  - This tartan design for a plaid (blanket) was, according to record, spun, dyed and woven by a woman named Christina Young. The year 1726 was stitched in the edge of this material, along with her initials. This blanket, called an "arisaid", and worn in the Highlands as a woman's garment (see illustration) "...is one of the oldest and most completely preserved specimens of homespun hand-looming..." in Scotland.


There is a rather notorious gang/family/clan of border reivers called Young - but they most certainly did not wear any Highland garb, or probably even use tartan material very much (certainly not as a family or district symbol or mark of identity).





 

Montrose (Graham)   - The following description for this tartan can't be bettered, so I'm leaving it as written and as it appears on the Scottish Registry of Tartans website: "This tartan is sometimes confused with Macnaughton tartan. The connection between Graham of Montrose and Macnaughton can be seen in the painting called "Montrose" in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. It was painted by James Drummond and shows Montrose being led through Edinburgh's Royal Mile to be hanged after his capture in 1650. The detail is superb and one can clearly see the MacNaughton plaid underneath the rope tying him to the cart. There are also captured clansmen standing beside the cart one of whom also wears the MacNaughton plaid. Clan Graham recently commissioned a red Graham of Montrose tartan based on the MacNaughton tartan in honour of what happened. "The Great Marquis" of Montrose was given the ragged plaid by a Macnaughton as he was brought through Fife so that he would be spared the indignity of being paraded to his death dressed like a pauper. It's said that the Macnaughton walked with him."


Though this isn't the place for a long piece on Montrose, for those of you who don't know who he is (shame on you  :)   ), here's a wee bit. James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose (born October 25, 1612 and executed on May 21, 1650) was one of Scotland's most famous and formidable military leaders and warriors. He was at first a fierce opponent of the Stuart King, Charles I - due to the King's ill-advised attempt to introduce religious changes in Scotland. Montrose however switched sides in the ensuing conflicts, and having raised many (Catholic) clans from the west of Scotland, and troops from Ireland (led by a famous Scottish warrior Alasdair Mac Colla, who had much experience in Ireland, who is sometimes credited with creating the ferocious military tactic known as the Highland Charge), he led his fierce clansmen to victory after victory. He was an artist in the sense that he could move his troops rapidly, take advantage of their particular skills and cultural needs, and strike against greater numbers and win stunning victories. In the end, desertion by his clansmen and political circumstances beyond his control caused his eventual defeat and he fled to Norway. He did return, organized a small army, but was defeated by greater forces. He was betrayed in the end, and as stated above, led to his death in Edinburgh.





 

Winter Solstice Tartan  - In Scotland, and in other places to be sure, the "...solstices mark either the beginning or the midpoint of winter and summer." The Winter Solstice is when the sun appears at its lowest altitude above the horizon.


Many cultures celebrate the winter solstice (in varied ways of course) - the ancient Celts marked it as an important day. And now Christmas is the holiday most associated with it. This was an attempt of the Catholic Church to impose itself on various pagan holiday to usurp their meaning - but keeping the days of celebration intact - realizing it was easier to change the meaning of the celebrations, than the day and times that they were celebrated.


In Scotland, Hogmanay is the most important of winter celebrations, and close enough to the Winter Solstice that it may have originated from that itself. It was the ancient Celtic mid-winter.


Our original tartan is meant to incorporate the colors of winter - blue for the dark, cold sky, white for snow and ice; some brown for the final death of the greenery, and a hint that the sun will be coming back.



 

First Thanksgiving Tartan  - this is not an official, registered tartan, but one made purely for the Scotia News for their November edition. For our foreign readers, Thanksgiving is a legal holiday in honor of our fore bearers, who on several occasions celebrated their harvests with a feast, primarily one supposedly celebrated at Plymouth by the Pilgrims and Puritans. The most common story associated with the holiday however, is that after a terrible summer and weak harvest, the local Indian tribe(s) brought food to help fend off starvation by the colonists (whoever they may have been - or where).


The date of the celebration, with now little of the religious implications it had in the 17th century, varied through the centuries - dates differed even by state. It wasn't until Lincoln, in an attempt to have a national holiday to succor both north and south, proclaimed it an official holiday (not recognized until years after the end of the Civil War. It is now celebrated on the final Thursday of November.


The colors in the tartan are meant to symbolize the make-up of the people involved in the "first" Thanksgiving - Red is for the American Indians; black and white symbolize the colors most associated with the Pilgrims and Puritans. The other muted browns represent the autumn season.




 

Halloween  - The tartan shown is one created by some mysterious fellow who calls himself "Prince of Scots". It's not an officially recognized tartan, but given that Halloween originated from the Celtic holiday of Samhain, we thought it appropriate - and fun.


Samhain was one of the four most important of the Celtic holidays - and indicated, the end of summer. It was a day when it was believed the door and channel to the "other side" was open and the dead would pass through to visit their old homes. Evil spirits were also thought be able to cross over on this night - and precautions were taken. Great bonfires were lit, and one theory is that people went from house to house begging for wood for the fire. Though some may believe this was the basis for "trick or treating", there are also Christian origins for this - and many do believe that All Hallow's Evening (All Hallow's Eve - Halloween) - a Christian holiday - came about to try and replace the ancient pagan rituals and beliefs. Instead, they may have propagated them. Jack 0'lanterns in Scotland were originally, and still in some places, made from carved out turnips. Once the Scots and Irish brought their customs to the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, the much easier to carve Pumpkin was substituted for the turnip.


In Scotland, children used to go around in costume (called "guising"), with their carved out turnips lighting the way, and receiving food and gifts for their troubles. They might have been doing this in imitation and reference to the spirits of the dead, who were wandering on this night.


Though in most of Europe Halloween virtually vanished (some of the traditions long associated with Halloween got transferred to Guy Fawkes Day in England where Halloween traditions had long been dormant, and in fact were never as strong as Scotland and Eire), it still continued in Scotland - and once it really took off in America in the early 20th century, those now some-what Americanized traditions of more ancient influence, made their way back across the water - causing a major resurgence of Halloween celebrations in Britain and other countries. So, no matter how distorted, varied, perceived, we still find a way to celebrate this ancient Celtic day.



 

Bruce  - One of the most famous men in Scottish history was called Bruce. In fact, as was fashionable among Celtic people, he held what was essentially an honorary "title": he was called The Bruce - Robert the Bruce. Many Irish and Scottish Clan Chiefs were often referred to as, for instance, The MacDonald, etc.


The name originated from the French name de Brus - and appeared in Scotland when the Normans invaded. All of the Bruce's as the name came to be, were involved with Scottish and English royalty to one degree or the other, through marriage as as favored warriors. The most famous of course was also the greatest of them all: Robert Bruce, 5th Lord of Annandale. Known famously as Robert the Bruce, he was a feared and courageous warrior and claimant to the throne of Scotland - he fought many guerrilla-styled battles against the English and other claimants to the Scottish throne. It was his army, courage, fighting skill and energetic leadership which led to the crushing victory of the Scottish army over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn - which re-established and secured Scotland's independence. Even today, he is considered one of the great military commanders.


His son and descendants ruled as well - his son was David II, and his grandson was Robert II. One other important and notable carrier of the name Bruce was Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin. It was he who "rescued" much of the crumbling sculptures that once adorned the Parthenon in Greece, transporting them to Great Britain. They reside in the British museum, where they are famously known as the Elgin Marbles. For some time now there has been wide-spread debates regarding the returning of the marble statuary to Greece.


The tartan depicted here is believed to be a design from the late 16th century.



 

Comyn / Cummings  - The origin of the name Comyn, seems to indicate that it was a place name in Normandy - and most certainly the Comyn claimants to the throne were of French-Norman heritage (as was Bruce to a degree).

John III Comyn, Lord of Badenoch was known simply as the Red Comyn, and because of his claim to the throne, became a foe of The Bruce, whose family (specifically The Bruce's father Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick) was supporting Edward Plantagenet for a short time, and protecting the English king's lands just over the border.

Edward was claiming lordship over Scotland and had King John Balliol a virtual captive in English. The Scots finally rose up in support of their absent king (as much as he was also reviled, he was still a Scottish King). It was these very clashes and political rivalries between the Comyns and the Bruces that played such an important part in the Scottish Wars of Independence.

After the stunning victory of the Scots over the English at the Battle of Stirling bridge, William Wallace was named Guardian of the Realm, though his co-warrior Andre de Moray (clearly as important for the Scottish military campaigns - if not more important) had died as a result of injuries during the fight. But when the Scots were crushed at the Battle of Falkirk, John Comyn and Robert the Bruce were then named as joint Guardians of the Realm - usurping Wallace's now diminished stature. It must have been a very uneasy alliance - as The Bruce laid claims to the throne of the Scots - and while the Coymn's had strong claims as well, were most certainly fighting to support King John Balliol.

In time, due to political influence and victory in battles against the English, Coymn's star rose in Scotland and he wielded power and great influence - though he did make peace with the mighty English king - partly by a promise to help capture Wallace if he could. The English King had a clear and lingering hatred for Wallace - years after the battle at Stirling.

With it now becoming clear that the exiled Scottish king was unlikely to return, it dawned on them all in power that there was only two good and possible claimants - The Red Comyn - and Robert the Bruce.

The next events and how and why they unfolded are as obscure today as they were then. On February 10th, in 1306, The Bruce and the Red Comyn met at Greyfriars Church in Dumfries (in Galloway) for a meeting - but under what pretext no one seems to know. At this meeting, Robert the Bruce apparently killed John Comyn before the high altar of the Church. Various stories claim that Bruce exited the meeting, bloody knife in hand, claiming that he may have killed Comyn, only to have one of his comrades race inside the church, his own weapon drawn, to make sure the job was done. Whatever may have happened within the stone walls of the church - whether it was premeditated murder, or a violent clash of volatile men - all that is clearly known, is that the Red Comyn was killed and Robert the Bruce was responsible.

The exiled Scottish King, infuriated, ordered Comyn's relatives to wage war against the Bruce - as did the English King. The leading clergy of Scotland - powerful men indeed - were backing Bruce, and 7 weeks after the murder, he was crowned King of Scots at Scone. There was no turning back now.

Comyn's son was taken into refuge for protection (and "re-education") by the English King and raised south of the border. The Comyn claimant returned to Scotland years later, only to fall in battle fighting against the Bruce at Bannockburn.

In time the Comyn clan became known as Clan Cumming - and exists to this day.


 

Nova Scotia  - Nova Scotia is a province of Canada - its name is Latin for New Scotland. Conquered by the French from the native Mi'kmaq peoples, it was called Arcadia and was in turn conquered by the British and renamed Nova Scotia. Driving out most of the French population, the British settled the land with incomers from New England. There were earlier conflicts between the French and a Scottish colony in 1632 - so, Scots were there for a long time before the union of 1707.


The main Scottish populations were settled as a result of the American Revolution (Highlanders driven out of the southern colonies - those that had sided with the British); after the '45 rebellion, and more importantly after the Highland Clearances, where sometimes whole glens were depopulated and the immigrants, some led by their own chiefs, left Scotland and resettled here.


They brought their culture with them - and to this day there is a large number of Scottish Gaelic speakers. There is even a college that teaches the language and other Scottish skills - from dance to bagpipes.


The tartan displayed was created in 1953 and officially adopted by the province in 1955. According to official designations: "...the blue and white in the tartan stand for the sea, the greens represent the forests, red is for the royal lion on the Shield of Arms, and gold for the province's historic Royal Charter."



 

Mystery Tartan  - No, not really in keeping with April Fool's Day - the Scottish Register of Tartans really has this listed as the Mystery Tartan. That's it. Why accept it in their registry without another word as to age or origin? Well, it remains a mystery - save that it looks great, and has a great name. Make up your own story for it.

 

 

 


 

Tommy Easter  - Our Easter Tartan is by no means an official tartan, but done up for fun for this article - it was made with a computer program online, and using what are considered traditional colors for this holiday: purple and yellow.


Easter celebrations in Scotland usually consist of a good meal, with roast lamb (most commonly) or ham. Children's celebrations include rolling colored Easter Eggs down a hill. This tradition goes back hundreds of years apparently, and is also known as egg-pacing. According to one account I found on-line, the term "egg-pacing" is from the the Old English word "Pasch" meaning Pesach or Passover.



 

Skene  - Skene is an old clan name, and apparently based on a legend regarding the chiefs of the Robertsons. It is said that a young member of the clan saved the king of Scotland by doing mortal combat with a fearsome wolf, armed only with a small knife - a dagger known in Scotland as a Sgian (popularly known today as a Sgian Dhu).


He was given lands and title by the king and their coat of arms featured three severed, bleeding wolf's head, perched on daggers, in reflection of this story.


The Skene clan has a good martial history, fighting against other clans - Highland and Low - and also against the English during the Anglo-Scottish wars of the 16th century. Their chief fell, as did many others at the fearsome battles at Flodden and Pinkie Cleugh.


They were banned and exiled for fighting for Charles I and the Royalist cause - but after military service with the Swedes (for whom many Scots mercenaries fought), the Skenes returned to their homeland where they thrive today.



 

78th Highlanders  -

The 78th Highlanders were initially raised in the later part of the18th century. They were raised first and foremost to fight against the French during the Revolutionary Wars, but like most British regiments, they found themselves in various points around the globe fighting a wide variety of races - with a wide variety of tactics and competency. They often distinguished themselves, and are perhaps best remembered for their fierce fighting during the Indian Mutiny as part of the British force that relieved the siege of Cawnpore and many other engagements. They are not to be confused with the 78th Fraser Highlanders who fought in America and Canada and were disbanded before the 78th of this article came into existence.

 

 




 

Brittany  -

The Angles, Saxons and Jutes came thundering across the waves in the 5th Century towards (Romanized) Celtic Britain - either peacefully or as conquerors, they ultimately settled in a large swath of the island (mainly the eastern coast). Though there are new interpretations as to the extent and nature of this invasion - and even of the cultural divisions and dominance of one group over the other - it seems that large numbers of Britains at this time made their way across the sea to the north-west coast of France, setting the stages for the gradual dominance of Celtic Britains on this small patch of the continent - Brittany (perhaps meaning "small" or "little" Britain). Was it this prolonged "invasion" that prompted this emigration? Or a continuation of a practice that may have started earlier in Roman times. No one is sure.

This independent Kingdom brought with them their Celtic culture, habits and language - which still exist to a reasonable (but possibly diminishing) degree - though Brittany has long been absorbed into France (from a country to a Duchy to an incorporated province). Its language has survived in spite of repeated government attempts over the centuries to suppress it and systematically humiliate children who dared speak it in school. However in more recent days Breton language schools have sprung up. Its folk music scene is rich and varied, with harpist Alan Stivell having led the way to a revival starting in the early 1970's, which in turn helped a 20th century revival of a Breton identity. Celtic saints (mainly Welsh) are celebrated still, with regional holy days devoted to them, and there are many festivals of varied description. Brittany is considered one of the 7 Celtic Nations.

Alan Stivell - Tri Martolod (festival des Vieilles Charrues):



 

Grant  - The Grants are one of the oldest recorded clans, claiming an origin and descent from Kenneth MacAlpin - a King of Scots. There is also some Norse connections, but in any event, the clan has very early beginnings.


The Grants, who had lands east of Loch Ness, were very involved in the first Wars of Independence being early supporters of Wallace and Moray - and after for Robert the Bruce, who helped consolidate their land holdings. The clan also had problems with local Gordon and Camerons and many violent conflicts ensued (some a result of religious differences) over the centuries.


At various points they sheltered the sometime outlawed MacGregors, and suffered at the governments hands as a result (mainly fines).


Later during the Jacobite rebellions they supported, for the most part, the Government forces (though cadet branches fought for the Jacobites too), even being one of the independent companies formed as part of the Black Watch. On several occasions however (during the 45 and on previous occasions), the chief withdrew his forces at an opportunistic moment, often causing the government forces to lose. One branch of the clan, the Grants of Glenmoriston, sided with the Jacobites, distinguishing themselves for their fighting prowess. After the conflict, many Grants were rounded up and sold as slaves in the New World.


During the notorious Highland Clearances, the then current chief did all he could to protect his clan and lands, and there were no mass evictions, and indeed the memory of Sir James Grant is revered to this day. The town of Grantown-on-Spey was built by the chief purely in order to preserve and protect his clan.



 

Gunn  - The Gunn Clan is from the northeastern part of Scotland - and may have its origins from both Norse and Pictish sources - some saying the name itself is of Norwegian origin (meaning "war") and others debating that it is from Pictish sources alone. There were of course strong interactions between those two races in that part of Scotland, so either theory may be correct.


The clan was a very martial one - and maintained long and very bloody feuds with the Keiths, Mackays and Sutherlands. One famous battle was a negotiated fight called the Battle of Champions. There were supposed to be 12 men a side - but the Keith's showed up with double that number (two men on a horse - the conditions being that 12 horse should be represented on each side, so the Keith Clan thought this trickery was "fair" within the conditions set forth).


There were many more bloody clan battles between the Gunns and their enemies over the centuries - wounds of various kinds that never healed. At the same time, this powerful martial prowess was never mustered for any of the Jacobite conflicts - either sitting out those wars or joining the government forces.


Today there are many Gunn Clan societies to represent the clan as they are currently without a Chief.



 

Armstrong  - though rough and simple tartan material was undoubtedly worn all over Scotland to one degree or another, it did not have the importance, culture or meaning it came to have in the Highlands. Simply, it wasn't a style that the women of the lowlands produced in any way similar to their counterparts in the north, and later day affiliations with tartan is now merely a fun thing to adhere to. In the heyday of the border riding clans, no one was wearing it as a district design or clan association (which was in itself a much later affectation in the Highlands). If anything it was more likely they wore a very simple shepherd's cloak, often made with a simple, dark check design. There were no kilts or belted plaids in the border country - indeed they, like the rest of the people of Scotland below the Highland line, held their northern countrymen in contempt. They were thought of as savages who dressed strangely and spoke an alien language (though Gaelic seems to have lingered in Galloway till the 17th century).


In recent times (post King George IV's royal visit to Scotland in 1822), almost everyone in Scotland now has a tartan associated with them (not just family names, but corporations, football teams, etc.) - and the great lowland riding families in their modern incarnations are no different. The Armstrongs were one of the most famous (and infamous) of all Border Reiving clans - celebrated in song, poetry and a very romanticized history.




 

Black Watch  - The Black Watch tartan is one of the oldest tartans that followed a specific style (unlike most clans where they often wore various patterns - similar only in regional or "district" styles) - primarily because it was government issued material.

The name is unique in many ways, and as a result rather well known - the dark pattern also makes it attractive to people who are not overly fond of what is now known in many places as "plaid" (which is from the Gaelic word for "blanket" - pronounced more or less as "played".

There are various theories as to the origin of the name - some think it is because the tartan itself is dark - while "watch" is the job of the group - to patrol the Highlands, trying to prevent cattle thievery (the paying of "blackmail").

Because this government force was often used against the population of the Highlands, some Highlanders consider them traitors to their culture - and because of their fervor in implementing their charge, often thought to have "black hearts."

The regiment, first raised in the late 17th century, were involved, much to their discredit in Scotland, on the Hanoverian side during the '45 rising - with instances of the Black Watch apparently ruthlessly bayoneting wounded clansmen on the battlefield of Culloden.

They have many British army battle honors, starting in the mid 18th century. They were involved in many colonial battles - virtually every major conflict during both world wars - and then forward through policing actions in Africa, Korea, Malaysia, Ireland - and up till the present in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Because of a recent and controversial consolidation of Scottish regiments into one force, they are now considered only a battalion. There was very vocal outrage in Scotland over the British government's actions - but whether The Black Watch (or the other Scottish regiments) will ever recover its independent regimental status remains to be seen.



 

Cornish National  - Cornwall is one of the Six Celtic Nations (with Scotland, Isle of Man, Brittany, Ireland, Wales). Jutting out by the Celtic Sea, Cornwall has long been a land of legend - and in recent days, old age pensioners retiring from England (Cornwall has more sunny days than anywhere else in the UK).


Cornwall was early on associated with the tales of King Arthur, with Tintagel Castle often regarded as the location where Merlin transformed Uther Pendragon into Gorlois, master of the castle (there is a nearby cave called Merlin's Cave) so he could enter unmolested and ravage Igraine (Gorlois' wife) - and who then bore Pendragon's son, King Arthur.


The Cornish have a distinct culture, and a language closely related to Welsh and Breton. The language is no longer a "living" language, though it may indeed have lasted in pockets up till the 20th century. There are several thousand speakers today, who for the most part learned it in school - where it is now taught at an early level. It is a small percentage of the population however.


Cornwall was also famous at one time for its tin mines, and had an ancient and active international trade in the metal - especially to Breton. Many mines have long since closed down and tourism is a major economic factor in the health of Cornwall.


There are some movements for more autonomy within the UK (some decrying its status as a county of England), inspired by the more recent developments in Scotland and Wales. The current Prime Minister Cameron has spoken openly of devolving more authority to the Cornish Council.



 

MacBean  - MacBean may have the same origins as the MacBeth name - betha, meaning "life" - though this is open to some debate. The name may be interchangeable with MacBain.


As a member of the clan confederation Clan Chattan (see tartan description for further info), they apparently fought side by side with the Macintoshes in many battles (the Macintoshes being one of the leaders of this confederation) - supporting both The Bruce in the War of Independence, and the Lord of the Isles in the 15th Century in his struggle against the King.


They had a reputation for being daring and extremely dangerous warriors.


Staunch supporters of the Jacobite cause - clan members fought in the 1715 uprising, and battled ferociously during the '45 (the grandson of the Chief supposedly killed more than a dozen Hanoverian dragoons single handed in a desperate struggle during the battle of Culloden, where he was finally cut down himself).
Later generations of MacBeans fought often and courageously for the British Army over the centuries.



 

Colquhoun  - In the southern states there is a very common name - Calhoun (probably most famous - or infamous - for being the name of one of the characters in Amos & Andy) - and it is now a distinctly American name - created from a slightly distorted pronunciation of the Highland Scottish name Colquhoun.


The name originated as a land grant (lands of Colquhoun and Luss) - and as was common in Scotland (and other places to be sure), the name of the land became the name of the Chief and hence the name of the clan.


The nationalist and martial history of the clan is unchallenged. They fought the English on many occasions through the centuries (The Battle of Pinkie for example, where the chief was killed - not an uncommon event as Highland chiefs often led by example and were almost always in the thick of things when it came to war).


The clan lands bordered on Buchanan (their allies) and MacGregor territory in the southern most reach of the Highlands. The MacGregors were particularly disliked by other, local clans and the Colquhouns were bested in a terrible battle against them - hundreds of Colquhouns were killed. The bitter enmity lasted for centuries and this one battle was one of the main reasons the name of MacGregor was proscribed by the government - anyone just bearing the name of MacGregor was legal reason for someone to commit murder - and get away with it.


Many Scottish prisoners of war who had fought against Cromwell's armies were transported as slaves to the colonies - among them were many Colquhouns. They spread from the northern colonies to the southern colonies where their names subtly changed in pronunciation and spelling (something quite common, not just with Scottish names of course) to become in many instances the Calhoun name often associated with the south.



 

Buchanan  - The Buchanan clan is one of the oldest in Scotland - descended apparently from an Irish warlord who fought the Danes and was rewarded with lands by the King of Scotland - the lands of Buchanan (meaning essentially clergyman).


During the Wars of Independence, the chief of the clan refused to sign the odious oath of allegiance to the English king Edward 1 - and became an ardent supporter of Robert the Bruce - fighting with him during the momentous battle of Bannockburn. The Bruce rewarded the clan with further land grants, and the clan fought in many major wars through the centuries against the English.


The clan even brought their hatred of the English to the battlefields of France - Sir Alexander Buchanan killed the Duke of Clarence in a pitched battle there - and part of the clan's royal arm's indicate this personal victory. They fought many battles in France, as well as civil wars in Scotland and England - and were involved in various clan battles against the MacLarens and Mackenzies. Their allies were the nearby Colquhoun clan and at later dates, supported their allies who were in conflict with the MacGregors.


The line of Chiefs went extinct in the 17th century and as a result the Clan as a whole did not fight in the Jacobite wars of the early and mid 18th century - though individual members of the clan did participate, and there were two Buchanan's captured after Culloden moor. There is currently no recognized chief and the traditional clan lands were sold off long ago to pay off debt.


The tartan is of post 1822 origin (or thereabouts) and is one of the most popular and well known of all tartans.




 

Falkirk  - The tartan represented for this issue is known as the Falkirk Tartan. It is currently the oldest documented tartan material found in all of Britain. It has been dated from approximately the 3rd century AD. The small fragment of tartan was found in an earthenware pot near Falkirk, Scotland, which also contained almost 2,000 Roman coins. The design itself is very simple - merely a check design in two shades of wool.


Samples of tartan have been found that date much further back (3,000 years or more) and it is now widely known and accepted that various tartan patterns were worn by Celts far and wide (not just in Scotland).


The Tarim mummies, found in western China in the early 20th century, had rather elaborate tartan material among their remains.




 

Hogmanay  - Hogmanay is Scotland's own take on a New Year’s festival. Connected to the Winter Solstice, and perhaps some ancient Viking and other Celtic celebrations, it is a popular holiday that seizes all of Scotland. There are massive street parties in Edinburgh and other cities which bring huge partying crowds out into the cold night air. January 2nd is a Scottish bank holiday, so the "official" celebrations last until then. The etymology of the name itself - a Scots word - is somewhat obscure and may be of Old French origin.


The most common way to celebrate Hogmanay is called First Footing. Neighbors visit neighbors, bringing such gifts as fruit cakes, whisky, coal and salt (though this last one doesn't seem to happen much).


Tradition in some areas says a handsome, dark haired man, who first enters a household just after midnight (with one or more of the above listed gifts) is a sign of good luck - and the man should be rewarded with a dram.


Auld Lang Syne is the Scots song traditionally sung on Hogmanay, and the world over has taken up this tune - the words famously written by Robert Burns. The melody most commonly played today is slightly different from the original tune, which was long ago been supplanted by what we sing today.


Here is one interpretation of what purports to be the music Burns had intended for the song:


The Hogmanay tartan is of very recent design.


 

Scrymgeour   - Scrymgeour is the name of an eastern based clan. And while many may think that names primarily starting with "Mac" are the norm for Scottish clans - there are a great variety in name and origin. Some clans for instance have names based solely on Norse antecedents - Gunn, for instance - though fully integrated within what became a predominately Gaelic institution (or Gaelicised Norse names like MacLeod). Some are territorial, some topographical or occupational. "Smith" for instance seems to be the most common name in Scotland.


In this particular, the name seems to derive from an Old English word for "swordsman", though the clan itself appears to be of an ancient, perhaps Pictish, origin - with no "south of the border" connection save for a possible name origin (or variation).


Scrymgeour clan chiefs supported many of the early Scottish leaders in the Wars of Independence - from Wallace to Bruce and forward in military history through both the Anglo-Scottish Border Wars and on The Royalist Wars ("English" civil war) - always firmly in the Scottish camp and sometimes suffering greatly for their patriotism and valor.



 

The Isle of Man  - an island in the Irish sea, situated off the coasts of England, Scotland and Ireland - has the oldest know Parliament in the world. The Tynwald was established in 979 AD and still functions today as it did centuries ago.


The Isle of Man is steeped in history - ruled and fought over by the Norse, the Scots and the English. Today, it is technically not part of the United Kingdom, but a "possession" of the Crown itself. Its position and status is unique, with some of its own, quite distinctive laws and traditions. Most recently it has established some controversial tax shelter laws which keep it outside the legal jurisdiction of the British mainland. These laws were put into effect in an effort to prop up the economy of the small island when the tourist trade sharply dropped due to easier and more convenient access to resorts on the Continent. The population of Man is under 100,000 persons.


Its folklore in large part is derived mainly from Celtic legends and beliefs (as opposed to those of their one-time Norse rulers), and its ancient (and extinct) language - Manx - is very closely related to Scots Gaelic (in particular) as well as the Irish tongue. Though the last native speaker died in the late 20th Century, there has been a determined effort to bring it back - and it is now being taught to a new generation of Manx children. On the political front, there is a small, but vocal group who are determined to bring full independence to the Isle - something it has never known.


Man is considered one of the 7 (Celtic) Nations - Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, Galicia...and The Isle of Man



 

Confederate Memorial Tartan: Though it may seem odd to some that there is a Tartan commemorating the Confederate States from the American Civil War era, one needs to understand the ethnic make-up of the South in those days.


From earliest colonial days many Scots (Highland and otherwise) had emigrated to the New World colonies a great many settling in North and South Carolina and Georgia. Some came over as indentured servants and slaves after the failed Rising of 1745, but many had come over with sometimes their entire villages and communities intact. Flora MacDonald, famous for her encounter with Bonnie Prince Charlie during the 45, settled in the South with her husband, and oddly enough, during the American Revolution joined the Hanovarians (The same Monarchs that had crushed Scotlands Highland culture), and ultimately fled back to Scotland when the English were defeated and the colonies lost forever. Whole regiments of Scots fought on both sides during that 8 year struggle.


It has been estimated that by the time of the American Civil War, fully 75% of the white population of southern states were of Celtic lineage (not all Scots of course). As in the North, there were Scottish and Highland brigades and regiments in the South, though they never seemed to have faced each other in battle during the war. The well-known Rebel Yell of charging confederate soldiers, which apparently terrorized Union troops to no end, is thought by some to have originated from the equally well-know battle cries of Scottish clan armies of days long gone.


On a darker notes, it is supposed that the notorious and hateful symbol of the Ku Klux Klan The Fiery Cross is a bastardization of the Highland way of gathering clans for battle in Scotland. In clan territories, when the Chief decided it was time for conflict, he sent a herald out across their territory holding aloft a Fiery Cross (which according to some was not actually ablaze, but merely burned at its edges), and shouting the name of the usual clan meeting place. The fiery cross of Highland fame was only the symbol and legitimacy of the heralds position to gather the warriors as quickly as possible. Its use in the South was of a decidedly different nature.


To this day there are still large communities of Scottish-Americans in the South, and indeed one of the largest of all Highland Games in the world takes place in Georgia.



 

Clan Chattan:  Clan Chattan is not in actual fact a clan, but instead something wholly unique in the history of the Highlands it is a confederation of clans, and the only one. Its nominal head is the Chief of the MacKenzies, though the Macphersons have always bitterly contested this notion. The matter was settled by the Lord Lyon, King of Arms in 1672 who declared the MacKenzies the rightful leaders.


The name is derived from St. Cattan. Other prominent clans in the federation included MacBeans, MacPhails, Shaws, Farquaharsons, MacQueens, Davidsons, and others.


Probably the most famous incident involving Clan Chattan is the Battle of the North Inch of Perth a terrible event, sometimes misunderstand as being a fine example of Highland chivalry. It was anything but. The battle was staged apparently for the amusement of King, Robert III. It was conducted between the Macphersons and the Davidsons both clans were constantly at odds with each other within the confederation, apparently starting out as a matter of who shall command the right wing of Clan Chattan in wartime. This position on the field of battle held great importance to Highlanders of all clans (in the 45, infighting over this position caused a serious delay in unleashing the Highland charge against Hanovarian troops at Culloden).


After many years of conflict between these two clans, it finally came to a head in 1396 when the Scottish king decreed that they should settle their differences once and for all with a pitched battle. 30 men from each side were chosen and before many royals the two clans had at it. In the end all of the Davidsons were killed but one. A gory spectacle that while tempering further fights within the confederation, left a bitter taste for a long time to come.



 

Douglas:  This very famous Scottish name originates from the Gaelic for black water dubh glas and was a descriptive place name. Perhaps the most famous of Douglas name-bearers was James. He fought along side Robert the Bruce during the Wars of Independence and was one of the great Scottish patriots. Overshadowed in historical references by The Bruce and William Wallace, he was no less a true warrior-hero of his day. When The Bruce died, James fulfilled his pledge to bring the Kings heart to the Holy Land for burial. With a band of followers they made off for the continent, but James fell in battle with the Moors in Spain. The Black Douglas charged the overwhelming enemy forces, casting The Bruces heart ahead of them. Amazing enough, though James was killed, the heart was returned to Scotland where it rests to this day.


The following generations of Douglas were renowned fighters bringing battle to the English not only on the battlefields of Britain, but in Europe as well. Still and all, they often fell afoul of the Kings of Scotland who thought the family much too powerful for their own good they were often imprisoned, banned, executed and their lands and titles seized.


Be that as it may, the family still exists to the present day.




 

MacLean:  A rather dramatically named character - Gillian of the Battle Axe - is often considered to be the progenitor of the MacLean name and clan in the 13th century.


The clan supported The Bruce in the Wars of Independence, and were given titles to lands on the isle of Mull - where they immediately came into conflict with the MacKinnon's of Mull. Much bloodshed followed, with the MacLean's coming out on top.


Fervent Royalists, the clan was out for the Stewarts at Flodden where the Chief fell in battle. They were out again for Charles and Montrose; for King James VII at the battle of Killikrankie; the rebellion of 1715, and finally for Bonnie Prince Charlie during the '45.


There were many powerful offshoots of the clan and the principal seat of power was Duart Castle on Mull - and the tartan shown here is one of the many thus styled MacLean of Duart.





 

Ogilvy:  The Ogilvy name is very old, and some of the earliest records trace the current lines from about 1150. The name itself seems to originate from a land grant - Ocel Fa, which means "high plain".


The family was involved in many notorious feuds over the centuries, including one with the very powerful Campbells (who burned down one of the main residences of the Ogilvy chief), but more disastrously with a branch of the Lindsay clan. A resultant clan battle in the mid 17th century left many Ogivly's dead.


In-fighting between claimants to the chieftainship resulted in two feuding sects within the clan; both parties grew powerful over the years, until the issue was finally settled by royal charter.


Many Ogilvy's were staunch Jacobites and were out in the rebellion of 1715, as well as the '45. In the 1780's the clan chief, Lord Ogilvy was pardoned by the crown for his part in the last rising - his comportment and youth used as reasons for a rather late clemency.




 

Knights Templar:  The Knights Templars and their history are shrouded in mystery to many - with many false assumptions being made about them, then as now. Suffice to say that in the year 1307, the French King, Philip, decided that the opportunity to seize the vast fortune of this successful order had arrived. On Friday the 13th, he struck...massacring many of the brotherhood, and driving others underground and into exile. The Grand Master was taken prisoner, horribly tortured and finally burned at the stake as a heretic. The Templar's great fortunes were seized and their power on the continent broken.


Many Templars fled to Scotland, where Robert the Bruce, ex-communicated by the Pope, was not averse to having well-connected allies (as put upon as they may have been) and warriors on his side in these turbulent times. He welcomed them openly.


According to John J. Robertson in his book Born in Blood (1989, M. Evans and CO., NY) the Knights Templar are more than likely the actual forerunners of the Free Masons - their cryptic signals and arcane rituals well-suited to a religious/military order (as opposed to any building tradesmen) that was not only trying to keep a low profile, but which had previously needed such safeguards during the heyday of their financial and political transactions across Europe and the Middle East. Besides being warrior/monks, they were essentially bankers and guarantors par excellence during very dangerous times.


Today one of the branches of the Masons is called Scottish Rites - and there is also an organization of the Knights Templars in Scotland.


The Tartan shown here is one of many produced in Scotland that is made for organizations, corporations and businesses - a common practice these days.



 

Menzies: The name of the clan Menzies is believed to be of ancient Norman origin, derived from Sir Robert de Mayneris Lord High Chamberlain of Scotland from about 1249. They received much of their initial lands (and as did many other chiefs) from Robert the Bruce, whom they supported in the Wars of Independence. The clan opposed the onslaught of Montrose in the 1640s, and after killing one of his trumpeters/heralds, had their land laid waste by the followers of Charles 1st for their troubles.


In the rebellion of 1715 the Menzies clan fought against the government once again. Though the clan officially stayed out of the 45, their chief nevertheless made a famous gift of a beautiful white horse to Bonnie Prince Charlie and many of the clan fought under Menzies of Shian all the same for the Young Pretender.


The pronunciation of the name is somewhat in dispute. One of the longest held versions is that it is pronounced as mingis and others say that in ancient times it was pronounced something like men-yees the z apparently not having the sound we usually associate with it today at least not in the Gaelic speaking Highlands.


There are many tartans ascribed to the name naturally, and we have chosen an interesting one this time: it being black and white.



 

Jacobite:  The term Jacobite originated in the Latin for James -Jacobus - and wasfirst used to distinguish the followers of James VII (and II), who reigned briefly in the 17th Century. Following his overthrow, followers of the Stuart cause in Scotland (and those exiles in Europe) began to identify themselves by this moniker - but most earnestly with their support of his son, James III (The Old Pretender), and culminating with Bonnie Prince Charlie. It is a term that is still used to this day with a very small, but active following.


The tartan is possibly one of the few identifiable ones from the late 17th - early 18th century (though not necessarily the design shown here). Followers of the cause during the uprising in support of the exiled Stuart king in 1715 were encouraged to wear the pattern as some part of their clothing (not necessarily in kilt or belted plaid form, but perhaps sash, banner, trews, waistcoats, jackets, etc.) as a sign of solidarity to the cause - though how many actually did so is unknown. It is not likely that any but the most well-off Jacobites bothered to obtain the material (and it is doubtful that it was handed out for free - though possible in very small batches), instead most simply wore the tartans that they usually wore (an astonishingly wide variety of patterns - even within clans themselves). After all, it was their everyday clothing.


Followers of the Jacobite cause most often wore a White Cockade in their bonnets as an identifying insignia (as opposed to the numerous and specific plant badges generally worn by clansmen in battle in order to identify one clan from another). Indeed the White Cockade (merely an elaborate white ribbon), now famous in song, pipe tune and poetry, is more widely identified as a Jacobite symbol than the specialized tartan itself.




 

Macbeth:  The name Macbeth brings to mind, almost instantly, the Scottish Play as written by Shakespeare to commemorate and honor James VI-Is ascension to the English throne in 1603 - for the Scot was now monarch of both kingdoms. However, in altering the facts of the ancient Kings life, he has done a great disservice, not to literature, but to history.


Macbeth did not kill Duncan in a cold-blooded assassination scheme hatched by his deranged power-mad wife, but instead defeated his predecessor in battle in 1040.


Many have suggested that the real reason Macbeth contested Duncans right to rule was his very own legitimate rights of ascension (he was said to have been a grandson of King Kenneth II) at least by what was considered the ancient laws of the time. In this case, Pictish matrilineal descent. According to those laws, uncle to nephew, or cousin to cousin had the most legitimate right to claim the throne. It was rumored that Duncan wished to institute a policy of primogeniture thereby insuring his eldest son would replace him. This was against all tradition at the time, and a hotly contested issue. With this in mind, Macbeth struck.


Macbeth by all accounts ruled quite well for his 17 year reign until defeated in battle by Duncans son soon to sit upon the throne of Scotland as Malcolm III.


Other variations and related names are: MacBheatha (who were traditional physicians to the Lords of the Isles, hence their name which means Son of Life); Bethune; Beaton; and Beatty.



 

The District of Galloway:  Though not as well known or as popular as family tartans, the history of district tartans is older and originally more authentic in design (though not the tartans currently available). Popular notion has it that individual clans could identify themselves by the pattern of the tartans they wore. This is not accurate - in order to identify each other in battle, clansmen wore specific plant "badges" that were attached to their bonnets. For example the Buchanan clan wore a sprig of oak in their blue bonnets; the Ferguson clan, little sunflower, etc.


What commonly determined the coloring and design of tartans, pre-1746, were what local plant and vegetable dyes were available in each area. This determined a general color scheme though not a set pattern, as most cloth in the Highlands of those days were home spun and design left to the imagination of the weaver. A general popularity of patterns did come into use in specific regions, and though to trained eyes one might have been able to tell what general area clan folk might be from, identification of individual clans would have been difficult if not impossible.


Though the Chief of the Grants in the 18th century actually set down on paper his wish that there be a specific pattern to the Grant tartan and that all members of his clan should wear it for identification, it was not until the raising of Highland regiments that set patterns finally came into being. Definite clan tartans were just beginning when Bonnie Prince Charlie arrived in Scotland in 1745 - and the rest as they say is history.


Many family tartans that are commonly worn today were set down just previous to, and a direct result of George IV's visit to Scotland in 1822. He let it be known that he wished the Highland Chiefs and their retinue to attend him in their own tartans and all their Highland regalia. Since many of the tartans had vanished from memory, thanks in large part to the draconian proscription of the wearing tartan after the '45, many weavers scrambled frantically to find existing examples of patterns, as well as accounts from memory of various designs. When none could be found, they were simply made up.


A recent trend has been to make, or re-make as the case may be, tartans ascribed to districts - as well as cities, individuals, organizations, etc. - but we should not mistake these new district tartans as being representative of setts worn in those areas.


Galloway is a region in the South West of Scotland - not the Highlands at all. The area did however have Scots-Gaelic speakers still living there up till the 17th century.



 

Wallace:  The name Wallace is now famous throughout the world, thanks in large part to Mel Gibson's film Braveheart - the tale of William Wallace, regarded by many as one of Scotland's greatest heroes. There are two commonly held opinions as to the origin of the surname Wallace.


Some say it originated in the Latin word representing denizens of the ancient kingdom of the Strathclyde Britons: "wallensis". Another theory is that the name comes from the Anglo-Norman French term, "le waleis" - meaning, "stranger" or even "foreigner", and denoted people who were either of Scots, Welsh or Breton origin.





 

Cunningham:  The name Cunningham originated in the south-west of Scotland in the Ayrshire region, and while not a Highland name has a tartan ascribed to it nevertheless - as do many non-Highland surnames. The current name itself came about when an English scribe misinterpreted the original Gaelic name - Cuinneagáin - which meant "milk-pail". The scribe added the suffix "ham" - an English word - which means "village". The name is numerous in Ireland, mainly, though not exclusively, as a result of 17th century Scottish immigration into Ulster.