MacDonald Tartan

This blog shines focus on one of the most recognisable and historic tartans from scottish history. The Macdonald tartan is one of the older & globally found tartans circulating and has went on to have a whole variety of variation of tartans designs.

A cult classic it doesn’t get more versatile and popular than the MacDonald tartan, this post covers all this MacDonald clans & tartans.

MacDonald tartan

Who are the MacDonald clan-

Clan MacDonald is one of the largest original Scottish clans, with roots tracing back to the 12th century. Domhnall mac Raghnaill (Donald, Son of Ranald) is often cited as the first in the clan’s line. Originally, they hailed from the Inner Hebrides and Ross.

There are several branches of Clan MacDonald, each with their own tartans. These branches formed as members of the Clan MacDonald moved to various regions around Scotland. The most notable branches include MacDonald of Sleat, MacDonald of Clanranald, MacDonell of Glengarry, and MacDonald of Keppoch. The tartans of all these branches, along with other historical variations, can be seen on

Clan MacDonald, often referred to simply as Clan Donald, is historically known to come from the islands around the west coast of Scotland. This led to the Clan Chief being bestowed the title of Lord of the Isles, a title now held by the heir apparent of Scotland, currently HRH Prince Charles.

MacDonald tartan variations-

As there was different branches of MacDonald families within the overall clan, variations of MacDonald can differ in colours & pattern for example:

MacDonald of the isles
MacDonald of the Isles- A green and red pattern with yellow and white lines.
Clan ranald
MacDonald of Clanranald- Featuring a more subdued colour scheme with blue, black, and green.
Dress MacDonald
MacDonald Dress- A more vibrant version for formal occasions, with brighter reds and greens.

Tartans can have variations of a variation some examples are:

Hunting, dress, modern, ancient, weathered, muted, greyish & hybrids.

Macdonald clan tartans
MacDonald tartan

Clan crest & motto

The Clan Crest of Clan MacDonald features a hand in a gauntlet holding a cross above a crown. The motto of Clan MacDonald is “Per Mare Per Terras,” which translates to “By Sea and Land.” Several branches of the Clan MacDonald have their own unique crests. For instance, the MacDonald of Clanranald crest displays an arm holding a sword above a castle, accompanied by the motto “My Hope is Constant in Thee.”

The primary crest depicts a hand in a gauntlet holding a cross above a crown. Each element of the crest carries its own historical and symbolic significance:

Hand in a Gauntlet represents strength, bravery, and the clan’s readiness for battle. The gauntlet, a piece of armour protecting the hand, symbolizes the clan’s martial prowess and their role as warriors. The cross held by the hand signifies the clan’s Christian faith and their commitment to defending their beliefs. The crown symbolizes loyalty to the Scottish monarchy and the clan’s noble status.

Several branches of the MacDonald clan have their own distinct crests and mottos, emphasizing their unique identities within the larger clan network. Here are a few notable examples:

Macdonald clan
MacDonald of Clanranald:
Their crest features an arm holding a sword above a castle, with the motto “My Hope is Constant in Thee,” indicating a steadfast hope and reliance on divine providence and strength.
MacDonald motto
MacDonald of Sleat:
This branch’s crest often includes symbols like a raven or a castle, representing watchfulness and fortification.
MacDonald clan crest
MacDonald of Glengarry: The crest typically shows a raven perched on a rock, symbolizing vigilance and the rugged terrain of their ancestral lands.

How to style MacDonald tartan-

We will use 3 examples on the best ways to style a MacDonald tartan:

Ancient MacDonald
MacDonald of ClanRanald Ancient
Modern MacDonald
MacDonald Modern
muted MacDonald
MacDonald of ClanRanald Muted

For MacDonald of Clan Ranald Ancient we recommend styling with a charcoal, light green or blue tweed jacket, if your looking for something more formal we recommend a black prince Charlie or Argyle Braemar. Either jacket colour with corresponding socks would tie the softer greens & blues together in the tartan.

For MacDonald Modern we recommend a darker jacket like a navy or charcoal tweed or a black prince Charlie or Argyle Braemar to compliment the darker colour tones & styled with a dark sporran and socks.

For MacDonald of ClanRanald Muted, due to the more muted softer colours we recommend a lighter green blue or charcoal jacket with matching socks or you could dress this more formally with a black jacket like the prince Charlie or Argyle Braemar white shit & socks.

For any enquires or questions on clan / family tartans or kilt buying, we would love to welcome you in-store or alternatively you can research us at [email protected] or call us on 0141 889 4879.

You can browse our full tartan range here.

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