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Highlandwear Made In Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan traditions

Clan Tartans in Focus – Clan Campbell

This article examines the Campbell Clan, looking back at their History, studying their Clan Crests and a glimpse at the associated clan tartans!

The Campbell Clan is one of the largest Scottish Clans and historically one of the most powerful. According to the 2001 census, ‘Campbell’ was the 4th most common surname in Scotland.

Clan History

It is thought that the Campbell’s originally hailed from the Strathclyde area on the west coast of Scotland, with strong connections to the Argyll region.  The clan chief of Clan Campbell has been the Earl of Argyll since 1445, then Duke of Argyll from 1701.

The Argyll region of Scotland and the Campbell Clan Crest

In the 14th Centuary the Campbell’s were strong supporters of Scottish Independence, and fought along side Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314

The Campbell’s are perhaps best known for their part in the infamous Massacre at Glencoe, where troops (including several Campbell’s) lead by Robert Campbell of Glenlyon murdered members of the MacDonald Clan in Glencoe on 13th February 1692.
During the two Jacobite uprisings in the 18th centuary, the Campbell’s sided with the British government and fought against the Jacobite armies. The Campbell’s had four divisions of men at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the last battle of the uprising which crushed the rebellion.

Today, the Clan Chief of the Clan Campbell is Torquhil Campbell, 13th Duke of Argyll, who captained Scotland’s Elephant Polo team to victory in the 2004 and 2005 World Elephant Polo Association World Championships.  Inveraray Castle has been the seat of the Duke of Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell, since the 17th century.

Torquhil Campbell, 13th Duke of Argyll (L) and the Scottish Elephant Polo team in  2005, with Campbell in the centre (R)
Torquhil Campbell, 13th Duke of Argyll (L) and the Scottish Elephant Polo team in 2005, with Campbell in the centre (R)

Clan Tartans

The Campbell Tartan is predominantly green and blue, intersected with a black check. The tartan may look quite familiar to many, as it also goes under the name ‘Black Watch‘ – the tartan used extensively in the UK military.

Inverary Castle, surrounded by Clan Campbell Tartans
A variety of Campbell Tartans

There are variations of the tartan based on different locations around Scotland where certain Campbell’s hailed from. These tartans include: Campbell of Argyll, Campbell of Breadalbane, Campbell of Cawdor, Campbell of Lochawe and Campbell of Loudoun. Each design uses the base colours from the Campbell tartan, but add a thin, coloured line through the design.

Clan Crest and Motto

The Clan Campbell crest is of a Boar’s head and they have the motto ‘Ne Obliviscaris’, which is Latin for ‘Forget Not‘)

Houston’s stock many varieties of Campbell Clan Crested accessories here.

Other Useful Links

The Clan Campbell Society of North America (CCSNA) is a great resource to learn more about the Campbell Clan’s history.

Inveraray Castle, the seat of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of Clan Campbell.

View all the Campbell Tartans stocked by Houston Kiltmakers.

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Gifts Highlandwear Kilt Pin Made In Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History Sporran traditions

Clan Crest Accessories – Personalised Clan Highland Wear

The roots of Highland Wear comes from the Scottish Clan system – Clan Tartans are a great example of showing the contrasting styles of the Clans. Each Clan, along with their own specific Tartans, also have their own Clan Crest and Coat of Arms. At Houston’s we can provide the option to customize many items with your own Clan Crest to make each item special to you and link to the connection with a family name. Great as personalized touches to your Kilt outfit.Clan Crested Kilt Pin - Kitlmakers.com

With origins in the Clan system of Scotland, a Scottish crest badge is a heraldic badge worn to show allegiance to an individual or membership in a specific Scottish clan.

Clan Crested Belt Buckle - Kiltmakers.com

Clan Crest accessories can be customized with 120+ different Family Crests – the perfect personalized gift for a loved one, a friend or wear them yourself! From Clan Anderson to Wallace, any many names in-between, choose your family’s clan crest for your accessories!

Clan Crested Sgian Dubh - Kiltmakers.com

Wall plaques, Cufflinks and tankards are also available with a family crest, which make great gifts!

Clan Crested Cap Badge - Kiltmakers.com

All our Clan Crested accessories are made in Scotland by our trusted supplier. As there is a wide range of crests available in some rare occasions it could take up to 6 weeks for your accessory to be delivered as they will have to be made if they are out of stock at the time of order.

Houston’s crested product range includes Sporrans, Kilt Pin’s, Belt Buckles, Sgian Dubh’s and much more. You can see our full range here!

 

 

 

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan

Clan Tartans in Focus – Clan Gordon

This article examines the Gordon Clan, looking back at their History, studying their Clan Crests and a glimpse at the associated clan tartans!

Clan History

The name Gordon believed to be of Anglo Norman descent. The first known of the name are said to have saved the King from the attack of a wild boar. This is why many believe a boar’s head features on the family coat of arms.

The earliest record of the name confirms the Gordons settled in the Borders of Scotland during the reigns of William the Lion and Malcolm IV.

Sir Adam de Gordon was one of the commissioners who negotiated with Edward I in order to settle the competition over the crown of Scotland. Sir Adam was a faithful follower of Robert the Bruce and was sent to Rome to ask the Pope to reverse the excommunication, placed upon Bruce after he killed John Comyn.

Coat of Arms and Tartans for Clan Gordon
The Gordon Coat of Arms. Gordon Tartan variations including Red Gordon, Weathered and Dress.

British Army Links

The Gordon Highlanders was a infantry regiment of the British Army that existed for 113 years, from 1881 until 1994 when it was amalgamated with the Queen’s Own Highlanders to form the Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons), which was later merged with the Royal Scots Borderers, the Royal Highland Fusiliers , the Black Watch and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to form the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Ancient, Modern and Dress Gordon Tartans and Clan Crest
Ancient, Modern and Dress Gordon Tartan Variations. The Gordon Clan Crest with the motto, 'Bydand'.

Clan Crest and Motto

The clan crest for the Gordon Clan is of a stag’s head atop of a crown. This is surrounded with the clan motto, ‘Bydand’, which translates from Gaelic to traditional Scots as ‘Bide and Fecht’, meaning ‘Stay and Fight’. The Gordon Coat of Arms features the head of a boar, thought to be reference to the boar killed by an early Gordon in protection of the King.

Clan Tartans

There are several Gordon tartans, with perhaps the best recognized being the ‘Dress Gordon’ variation. It has transcended the world of highland wear and became a popular tartan in other fashion items.

Useful Links

House of Gordon USA, whose mission is to preserve  and promote our unique heritage and Celtic culture.

You can learn more of the heritage and history of the Clan Gordon at House Of Gordon.com

You can see our full range of Gordon Tartans here!

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Highlandwear Kilt Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan traditions

Clan Tartans in Focus – Clan Anderson

This article examines the Anderson Clan, looking back at their History, studying their Clan Crests and a glimpse at the associated clan tartans!

Clan History

The Anderson Clan has links stretching back to St. Andrew, the Patron Saint of Scotland. Anderson literally means ‘Son of Andrew’. The name Anderson was recorded as early as the 13th century. As the name Anderson is so wide spread in Scotland, it is hard to narrow down to a specific area where the Anderson’s originally hailed from. It is generally agreed that the region they most likely call ‘home’ is the traditional district of Badenoch.

Clan Anderson came from Badenoch
Clan Crest for the Anderson Clan and Map of their Origins

Clan Crest and Motto

The Clan Crest of the Anderson Clan is of an Oak Tree and their motto is ‘Stand Sure’. The motto reflects both the Oak Tree and the lasting of the Anderson name – the Oak Tree grows strong and lives for a long time, similar to the Anderson Clan.

Clan Tartan

The Anderson Tartan is a particularly popular design. An elaborate tartan, it incorporates several colours and many thin stripes. Mainly a blue design, it also features green, red, yellow, white and black.

Anderson Clan Tartan
Ancient, Modern and Muted Versions of the Anderson Tartan, the Thread Count and a Digital Image of the Tartan

Other Useful Links

The Anderson Clan Society is a useful place to start if you are looking for more details about the clan.

 You can see the full range of Anderson Tartans that we stock here!

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Highlandwear Kilts Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan traditions

Clan Tartans in Focus – Clan MacDonald

This article examines the MacDonald Clan, looking back at their History, studying their Clan Crests and a glimpse at the associated clan tartans!

MacDonald Clan Tartan and Map
Clan MacDonald Hail from the Isles. They have many associated Tartans, here we see the Ancient Clan MacDonald Tartan.

Clan History

Clan MacDonald is historically the largest of the Scottish Clans. Their roots can be traced back to the 12th century, with Domhnall mac Raghnaill (Donald, Son of Ranald) often being cited as the first in the clan’s line. They hailed originally froom the Inner Hebrides and Ross.

There are several branches of Clan MacDonald, many with their own Tartans. These branches are established from regions where members of the Clan MacDonald moved to around Scotland. The most noted of these are MacDonald of Sleat, MacDonald of Clanranald, MacDonell of Glengarry and MacDonald of Keppoch – the Tartans of all these branches can be seen on Kiltmakers.com, along with other historical variations.

The Clan MacDonald (Sometimes referred to simply as Clan Donald) are historical known to hail from the Islands around the west coast of Scotland, leading to the Clan Chief being bestowed with the title, Lord of The Isles. (This has since been passed on to the hair apparent of Scotland, meaning currently HRH Prince Charles holds the title.)

Clan Crest and Motto

The Clan Crest of Clan MacDonald is of a hand in an gauntlet holding a cross over a crown. The motto of Clan MacDonald is ‘Per Mare Per Terras’, which translates to ‘By Sea and Land’. Several of the branches of the Clan MacDonald have their own Clan Crest, such as MacDonald of Clanranald. The MacDonald of Clanranald crest shows an arm holding a sword above a castle, with the motto, ‘My Hope is Constant in Thee’.

Clan Crests for the MacDonald Clan
Clan Crest for the Clan MacDonald (L) and Clan MacDonald of Clanranald (R)

We offer a wide range of Highland Wear products, customized with your own Clan Crest. From Sporrans and Kilt Pins to Hip Flasks and Sgian Dubhs, we can customize most items with a Clan Crest.

Rival Clans

The most famous rival Clan to the MacDonalds is the Campbells. This clash can be traced back to the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692, where members of Clan Campbell murdered members of the MacDonalds of Glencoe on a cold winters night. 38 MacDonalds were killed by their guests, to whom they were providing traditional warm hospitality. Another 40 members of the clan lost their lives to exposure as they attempted to flee across the snow covered glen.

Massacre of Glencoe

Other Useful Links

MacDonald remains the most common ‘Mac’ name is Scotland, with Houston’s owner Ken MacDonald being part of the Clan.

The Clan Donald Centre on the Isle of Skye is an estate around Armadale Castle where you can learn more of the history of Clan Donald.

Clan Donald USA has several regional divisions across the States where you can meet and associate with others carrying the MacDonald name.

You can learn more about Clan Donald and its heritage on a dedicated site here: Clandonald-Heritage.com.

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilt Hire Kilts Kilts for Sale Scottish Clans tartan Wedding Kilts

Tartan Variations – Ancient, Modern, Hunting, Dress or Weathered?

If you use our Tartan Finder to search for your family Tartan, you might notice that your name returns several Tartans, each with a slightly different range of colours used in the design. There are a selection of colour variations used in the Tartan industry, and this article will explain the differences between each one.Tartan Kilts on Display

The 5 main variations in Tartan styles are Ancient, Modern, Hunting, Dress and Weathered (sometimes referred to as Withered or Muted). Within these groups you can also have a mixing of some of the style, for example a Ancient Hunting Robertson Tartan, or a Modern Dress Gordon Tartan. (Though you can’t get an Ancient-Modern Tartan combination!)

Ancient Tartan

Tartan’s with the prefix ‘Ancient’ are not necessarily older than other Tartans, it simply refers to the colour palette used in the design. The colours are often softer and lighter to what you would see in a ‘Modern’ Tartan design. These colours are choosen to have a closer link to the historical colours of Tartans in years gone by – produced with the natural dyes available. The colours are pastel-like, creating a softer feel, and giving the look of material that is worn beyond its years.

Modern Lamont with Ancient Lamont Tartan Comparison
Here you can see the Ancient and Modern Lamont Tartans. Note that the Sett of the Tartan is the Same, but the colours used in the Ancient Version are lighter/pastel.

Modern Tartan

As with ‘Ancient’ Tartan’s, the name ‘Modern’ relates to the colours used in the Tartan, not the date of the design. Ancient and Modern design’s tend to share the same sett, the change is in the colour palette used. While ‘Ancient’ Tartan use lighter softer colours, ‘Modern’ Tartans use stronger, darker colours.

Hunting Tartan

Hunting Tartans traditionally were worn when the wearer was on a hunt. To tie in with this, the colours usual are suited to match with the woodland background linked with a hunt – Greens and browns being the strongest colour here.

MacPhail, MacRae, MacGregor and MacFarlane Hunting Tartans
Hunting Tartans - MacFarlane Hunting Modern, MacGregor Hunting Ancient, MacPhail Hunting Ancient and MacRae Hunting Modern Tartans

Dress Tartan

It is often easy to identify Dress Tartan’s with the abundance of white thread used to make up the design (An exception to this is the Dress MacLeod Tartan, which uses yellow thread instead of the normal white). These designs are most popular with Highland Dancing Kilts, though they can also been worn to give a brighter looking Tartan Kilt. Dress Gordon is perhaps the most recongizable Tartan in this range as it has been incorporated into many popular fashion items such as scarves and jacket linings.

Dress Gordon, MacDonald, Gillies and MacLeod Tartans
Modern Dress MacDonald, Ancient Dress Gillies, Modern Dress Gordon and Ancient Dress MacLeod Tartans. Note that the MacLeod Dress Tartan Uses Yellow instead of White

Weathered Tartan

Tartans of the Weathered Styling use a colour palette to reflect the name – tones that are faded, giving a look of the Kilt being aged by exposure to inclement weather. In years gone by the Great Kilt worn by the Scots would have endured the harsh Scottish Weather and terrain. The Great Kilt would be used to protect the wearer from the elements, and would gain a worn and aged look from this. (Weather Tartans are also sometimes referred to as ‘Withered’ or ‘Muted’, depending on what Mill that Cloth is produced from.)

Watson, Sutherland, Murray of Atholl and MacLaren
A range of Weathered (Withered) Tartan - Watson, Sutherland, Murray of Atholl and MacLaren. You can see the Browns and Weather-Beaten Colours used here.

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While there are many different varieties of Tartan to choose from, at the end of the day it is down to preference what Tartan you decide upon. There is no right or wrong Tartan for any occasion – as long as the wearer likes it! Search now for all your families Tartans with our Tartan Finder!

 

 

 

 

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilt Hire Kilts Kilts for Sale Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History Special Weave Tartans tartan traditions Weddings

How to Choose a Tartan

When picking the Tartan for your Scottish Highland Kilt Outfit it can be quite a daunting task as there are over 14,000 Tartans to choose from. In this guide we make it easy for you to find the perfect Tartan for your Kilt – don’t worry if your family name doesn’t have a linking pattern, there is a Tartan for Everyone!

Tartans for Scottish Kilts

Where to start!

Choosing a Scottish Tartan For Your Kilt
How to Choose a Tartan for your Kilt - There is a Tartan for Everyone!

1. The first place to start when looking for a Tartan is with your family name. Simply type your name into our Tartan Finder and see all your matching tartans! Often you will find that your own name is not part of a clan which has a Tartan, if this is the case don’t worry! There are still many routes to go down to find your perfect Tartan!

2. You can search for Tartans relating to other family names (Mothers Maiden name, Grand Parents names, Uncles and Aunties names etc.) to give you a choice of tartans. Just type the name into our Tartan Finder!

3. Sometimes it is the case that you will find that your surname will not have a Clan Tartan of its own, but will be linked to a ‘Sept’. Sept’s are surnames that, while not having their own clan, are associated with another clan. For example, instances of the name Reid can be associated with clan Robertson. Members of the Reid family should therefore wear Robertson tartan. When you use our tartan finder it will bring up any relevant Sept matches and link to the tartans.

4. If you tartan search has no clan tartan or Sept matches, don’t worry! There are many regional, national and County tartans that you could find a link with! For Irish names there are tartans for each Irish County, as well as an Irish National Tartan that can be worn by anyone with a link to Ireland. Tartans such as the American National Tartan and German National Tartan are other examples of national tartans with connections to those countries. There is a range of ‘Tartans for Everyone‘, generic designs in a variety of colours that are free to wear. You can also design your own tartan, or have it designed by Houston’s Owner, Ken MacDonald!

Popular Trends and Styles

As with any item of clothing, fashions change over time and different style come into vogue. In recent times there has been a surge in the demand for Grey and Purple Tartans. (You can see a range of Purple Tartans here, and Grey Tartans here) Houston’s owner Ken MacDonald has designed a range of tartans incorporating a colour palette that matches today’s trends. The Bute Heather Tartan range offers a wide variety of grey and purple tartans, each with a flash of colour running through the design.

Autumn Bute, Ancient Bute and Grey Bute Kilts
Grey Bute, Ancient Bute and Autumn Bute Heater Kilts, Tartan Designed by Ken MacDonald

Grey tartans are known for their ability to match with any style or colour of jacket, making them ideal for both formal and casual wear. With a subtle flash of colour through a grey tartan it can create a sophisticated look to your Highland Outfit.

Royal Links

Royal Balmoral Tartan
Royal Balmoral Tartan, Designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria

Grey Tartans have Royal links going back to the reign of Queen Victoria, when her husband Prince Albert turned his hand to Tartan Design. Queen Victoria loved Scotland, regularly visiting her stately home at Balmoral.

The Royal Balmoral Tartan was designed by Prince Albert in 1853, to be worn by the Queen and members of the Royal Family, with permission from the Queen. This Royal Tartans only other approved wearer was the Queen’s personal Piper.

Grey Tartans have often been linked with Royalty for this reason.

We hope this guide helps you to find a Tartan that you love. Remember, there are no Tartan Police, and anyone has the right to wear any Tartan!

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Céilidh Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Kilts for Sale Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History Special Weave Tartans tartan traditions Wedding Kilts Weddings

Special Weave Tartans – Custom Tartans for Kilts

At Houstons Kiltmakers we provide the service of Custom, Specially Woven Tartans for clients. These can be tartans that are not stocked by any Mills or tartans that are not readily available from other sources. Houston’s take you through the whole process from Designing and Registering your Tartan to having it Woven and made into a Bespoke Kilt.

Why a Special Weave Tartan?

There are several reasons why you might choose to have a Tartan specially woven:

Perhaps your family name doesn’t have a link to any Clan Tartan and you want to design a Tartan for your family name, or a Private/Corporate tartan.

Ken MacDonald's Tartan Design
A Collection of a few of the Custom Tartans Houston's has Designed for Previous Clients

You might want to recreate a Historical Tartan with custom thread colours or a unique sett.

Custom Weave Stevenson Grey and Original

Or maybe you just want to have your own Tartan designs woven to be made into a special item.

A popular choice is to combine your own family tartan with your Bride’s family tartan, creating a brand new tartan design to commemorate your special day!

For any need, Houstons are more than happy to accommodate any requests for your new tartan.

Tartan Design Options

There are several options to choose from when considering designing your own Tartan.

Our Owner, Ken MacDonald, is an experienced Tartan designer, having created prestigious Tartans ‘American National Tartan’ which was presented to George W. Bush in 2004 and the ‘Glasgow’s Miles Better’ tartan which was made into a pair of Kilts and presented to Prince Charles for Prince William and Prince Harry.

Other designs include the exclusive Bute Heather Range, 10 tartans inspired by Ken’s time visiting the Isle of Bute.

Ken is more than happy to take the ideas you have for a tartan (colour schemes, Setts etc.) and create a personalised tartan with an extra ‘wow’ factor. Ken will tweak his designs until you are completely satisfied with the tartan before it goes for weaving. Often Ken will create a handful of designs from your recommendations, providing CAD images of the Tartans, allowing you to choose your favored design.

You can also try your hand at designing a Tartan – helpful tools such as the STA’s Croft Weaver online application or Houstons MyTartan Apple iPhone/iPad App are good places to start with the creation of your Tartan.

Ken's Bute Heather Tartan Range
Some of the Bute Heather Tartans, Designed by Ken MacDonald

We can take you through the full process, from designing your Tartan, to registering it with the Scottish Register of Tartan, who record new Tartan designs in line with the Scottish Register of Tartans Act 2008.

Tartan Finish Options

Tartan can be woven in a range of weights and materials – we weave in 11oz, 13oz and 16oz (16oz recommended for Kilts). You can also choose your fabric from All Wool, a Wool Mix or Poly-Viscose. We recommend All Wool for a Kilt.

 

Stain-Proofing a Kilt with Teflon Coating Protects Against Spills

Houston’s offer the exclusive service of Teflon coating tartans/kilts to make them stain resistant. This service can only be done at the time of ordering the Kilt. The Teflon coating ensures your kilt it rain, stain and even beers proof! We calculate that over the lifespan of your kilt you will save approximately £180 to £260 on not having to have your kilt dry cleaned as often.

Time Scale for Custom Tartans

The time it takes for the whole process of designing your tartan to having it made into a bespoke kilt can vary from around 3 to 6 months, so it is best to plan ahead and start the ball rolling as soon as possible.

Express services are available, at additional cost, which can reduce the time of delivery of your Kilt.

Costs of a Special Weave Kilt

The cost of a special weave kilt depends on the tartan design and the kilt finish chosen. Prices start from £790, (£660 Tax-Free) (From $1,220 ($1,020 Tax-Free)), customers out with the EU can take advantage of our Tax-Free prices!

The minimum length of tartan to be woven is one bolt length (around 11m Single Width), which means after a Kilt has been made from the cloth there is often off-cuts which can be made into other accessories (tartan flashes, tartan ties etc.). At Single Width (approx. 27 inches wide) it is around £80 per metre (11m provides enough material for a 8 yard Kilt and extra material for accessories such as tartan ties, flashes, ring cushions etc.) and Double Width cloth (approx. 54 inches wide) is around £90 per metre (11m provides enough material for approx. three 8 yard Kilts and material left over for accessories.)

Special Weave Drummond Grey Tartan and the Drummond of Perth Tartan

Further Information

For a quote, please contact Houston Kiltmakers direct via email at shop@kiltmakers.com or call us on +44 141 889 4879, outing the specifics of the bespoke kilt you wish to have made. You can also learn more about Tartan Design here.

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan traditions

History of the Kilt – Part 4 – Resurgence in Popularity of Tartan and the Kilt

After the dark times of the 1746 Dress Act which saw the wearing of Tartan, Kilts and Highland wear outlawed in Scotland, the 1800’s and beyond saw a reversal of fortunes for the Kilt.

The 1746 Dress Act was repealed in 1782, with a representative of Parliament proclaiming:

King George IV in a Kilt

“Listen Men. This is bringing before all the Sons of the Gael, the King and Parliament of Britain have forever abolished the act against the Highland Dress; which came down to the Clans from the beginning of the world to the year 1746. This must bring great joy to every Highland Heart. You are no longer bound down to the unmanly dress of the Lowlander. This is declaring to every Man, young and old, simple and gentle, that they may after this put on and wear the Truis, the Little Kilt, the Coat, and the Striped Hose, as also the Belted Plaid, without fear of the Law of the Realm or the spite of the enemies.”

After the restrictions on Highland wear were removed, Highland Societies were setup with the aim of promoting the wearing of the Kilt once again.

A great boost was given to the image of the Kilt and tartan by the visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822, where he arrived kitted out in a full Highland Outfit (See pictures).

Not only was George’s trip to Scotland the first time a reigning monarch had visited Scotland since 1650, but the tartan pageantry surrounding the visit meant that the popularity of the Kilt and it’s association with Scotland were raised to a new level. It was exactly the shot in the arm that Kilts and Tartan needed to get them back to being part of Scotland’s national identity.

King George VI was advised by Sir Walter Scott to purchase a Highland outfit for his visit. He duly obliged and purchased an outfit from George Hunter & Co., outfitters of Tokenhouse Yard, London and Princes Street, Edinburgh, for £1,354 18s (a sum equivalent to £110,000 today). His Kilt outfit was crafted with a red Royal Tartan, which is similar to what we call the ‘Royal Stewart Tartan’ today.

King George IV in Full Highland Dress of his visit to Scotland
King George IV in Full Highland Dress of his visit to Scotland

While some looked on the visit in a bad light, the overall reaction was positive. Kilts were once again an iconic symbol of Scotland and linked once again to the Scottish Identity.

The popularity of tartan with Royalty continued during the 19th century with the reign of

(Royal) Balmoral Tartan, designed by Prince Albert

Queen Victoria. Victoria often dressed her children in Kilts and in 1853 her husband, Prince Albert, designed the (Royal) Balmoral Tartan. This tartan was worn by the Queen and other members of the Royal family with her permission. The only other person allowed to wear this tartan is the Queen’s personal Piper.

The grey of the Royal Tartan Balmoral have recently came back into fashion. The historical ties of grey tartans to the royal family and modern fashions make these tartans popular choices. Houston Kiltmakers exclusive Bute Heather Tartan range, designed by owner Ken MacDonald, uses a base of grey with a dash of different colours to create contemporary tartan designs which is are easy to blend with todays wedding colours schemes .

Kilts popularity has increased since the reign of Victoria, in the next part we will look at Kilts through the 20th century, wearers during the two World Wars and on to the present day.

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan

History of the Kilt – Part 3 – Dress Act 1746

Kilts and tartan were not always prosperous in Scotland and sometimes their development was restricted. 1746 saw the implementation of the Dress Act 1746, which put the future of Highland wear, the Kilt and Tartan into jeopardy.

The end of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century was filled with political and religious turmoil around Scotland. Jacobitism was gaining popularity in Scotland in a stand against the Union. From 1688 to 1745 several uprisings from the Jacobite loyal against the British Government. The most famous Jacobite rising from this time are the Risings of 1715 and 1745. (The 1745 Rising was led by the ‘Young Pretender’, Bonnie Prince Charlie, who lends his name to the Prince Charlie style of jacket.)

Bonnie Prince Charlie
Bonnie Prince Charlie

After the failed 1745 uprising support for Jacobitism began to decline. They drew a large amount of their support from the Highland Clans, and in 1746 the government brought in the Dress Act to dampen their support.

The Battle of Culloden
The Battle of Culloden, where the 1745 Jacobite Uprising came to an end.

The Dress Act 1746 restricted the wearing of Highland Dress, Kilts and Tartan. It states:

‘…no man or boy within that part of Britain called Scotland, other than such as shall be employed as Officers and Soldiers in His Majesty’s Forces, shall, on any pretext whatever, wear or put on the clothes commonly called Highland clothes (that is to say) the Plaid, Philabeg, or little Kilt, Trowse, Shoulder-belts, or any part whatever of what peculiarly belongs to the Highland Garb; and that no tartan or party-coloured plaid of stuff shall be used for Great Coats or upper coats…’

This Act several restricted the wearing of Kilts and Tartan outfits. The banning of Tartan cut off a way in which communities and families associated themselves with each other and the banning of Kilts suppressed the dress associated with the Jacobite Uprisings.

King George IV
King George IV's Visit to Scotland in Highland Dress

The ban would stay in place for almost 40 years, finally being repelled in 1782. The Kilt and Tartan had fallen on hard times, but its popularity would return in the 1800’s through King George IV’s visit to Scotland and Queen Victoria’s efforts to revive the Scottish Icons. Find Part 4 of this series HERE!