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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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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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Hogmanay… Scottish New Year

Well the turkey has been eaten, the presents opened and Santa has been and gone! Christmas is over and done with well, for another year at least! But the party’s not over just yet, in Scotland we’re just getting started!

In Scotland we are well known for throwing a good party and New Year or as it’s known locally Hogmanay is the biggest party of the year in Scotland! Glasgow and Edinburgh are now well known party locations where thousands gather outside and countdown to the New Year! Whilst in New York everyone watches the ball drop, Scotland holds a countdown to ‘the bells’ which ring out at midnight at Edinburgh castle and symbolise the New Year beginning.

There are various quintessentially Scottish traditions associated with Hogmanay, for example; after the bells ring everyone will shake hands and offer a kiss on the cheek to wish one another a Happy New . We then cross our arms joining hands with one another in a circle and sing Rober Burns classic Auld Lang Syne.

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot for auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”

The term auld lang syne is representative of notions of nostalgia and and days gone buy, in particular; those fondly remembered. It is when we sing these words that we reflect and raise a glass to the year past and the new one beginning.

Another popular tradition in Scotland is “First footing” this is the first foot in the house in the New Year. It was believed many years ago that it was good luck if the first footer were male, with dark hair and brought a gift such as coal, shortbread, salt, or whisky. It is still customary to give a gift when first footing, however; nowadays the gift is more commonly alcohol, shortbread, biscuits or sometimes even tea bags.

It is of course essential that you dress to impress to bring in the bells. The ladies will wear nice dresses and the gents wear suits and often kilts, trews and highland wear (enter Houston’s!).

These are some of our New Year’s traditions let us know yours!

Wherever you celebrate, and whatever you are doing Houston’s hope you are surrounded by loved ones and wish you all luck, love and good health in 2013!

For Auld Lang Syne!

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Scottish Weddings

When couples decide to jet off to get married the usual destinations are the exotic locations of Italy, Spain, Mexico and America. With these destinations within such close reach many may wonder why Canadian couple Fraser and Laura flew thousands of miles to get hitched in Scotland. It may be unclear to many but as a true Scot born and bred, I can tell you that what Scotland lacks in sunshine it makes up for in beauty, history and a rich culture. Scotland is famous for its rich culture, historic landmarks, and picturesque lochs. It is recognized in world cinema within classics such as Whisky Galore! and Braveheart. Character Stephen in Braveheart looks round at the army of Scotsmen standing strong and proud in their kilts and tells William Wallace “The Almighty says this must be a fashionable fight. It’s drawn the finest people”. It is true, that as well as the beautiful sights in Scotland the traditional dress is just as striking and symbolic of our wonderful country.

Fraser and Laura of Toronto, Canada got engaged after two years together and decided to fly almost 3,300 miles to marry in the town where Fraser’s ancestors lived before venturing across the Atlantic. The couple were not entertained by the standard practice of getting married in the popular wedding destinations of the Caribbean or Mexico, and with both Laura and Fraser’s ancestry dating back centuries to Scotland it seemed like the perfect choice. More specifically, as Fraser’s relatives had been married in Paisley Abbey centuries before that is where the couple set their hearts on for their big day. The couple faced quite a challenge arranging a wedding through only email and phone calls, but it was a challenge accepted and completed without fail. The couple commented that all the businesses they used within Paisley were particularly helpful (Oh and yes the happy couple did hire their highland wear from Houston Kiltmakers!).
It just goes to show that sometimes the most unlikely of places make the most special memories.

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How to choose a Scottish Tartan?

The Scots are known across the world as one of the friendliest nations. Our friends at home and abroad often ask us to help them find out what tartan kilt they should be wearing and want to find out more about their Scottish Heritage.

Each Scottish Clan or family name has its own tartan, Clan crest and Clan motto. In the past, official Clan tartans were governed by the Clan Chief with final approval being made in the Court of the Lord Lyon of Arms which governed Scottish heraldry.

Finding out what tartan and clan you belong to could not be simpler.  Houston Kiltmakers have 2 easy ways to help you find the right tartan for your Scottish kilt.

Houston’s Kilt Tartan Finder

  1. Just enter the name of the clan, tartan, or plaid you wish to view into Houston’s Tartan Finder to learn more about your Scottish roots.
  2. You can easily browse Houston’s range of tartans by surname. Just type in your surname and we will search our tartan database that includes EVERY Scottish tartan in the world to come up with a match.

Don’t worry if your surname does not come up with a specific clan or tartan. There are lots of tartans that anyone can wear, you don’t even have to be Scottish! Our owner Ken MacDonald also took inspiration from the Isle of Bute and designed an EXCLUSIVE Houston’s Bute Heather Collection that looks very modern and is perfect for a contemporary Scottish Wedding. Don’t forget you can post any kilt kilt pictures on our Facebook Page,  tag yourself and share the love of all things Scottish!