The Clans And Tartans Of Scotland

During the first cold snap of the year, everyone brings out their finest cold-weather gear — from furs to scarves. But did you know that those plaid scarves all have a unique meaning? As early as the 13th century, the various tribes and clans of Scotland all wore kilts that were made with specific colors and loom design.

Scottish Kilt Pins

The colors were specific to that clan’s plant life, which they made their dyes from. Consider the greens of the McKenzies (whose war cry, incidentally, was tulach ard, which means “the high hill”). Their plant badge is holly and deer grass, which their dyes were made from. The reds of the Ross clan came from juniper, as their plant badge was juniper; this family tartan goes back to 1234. We picked a few of the designs to show here. All told, there are thousands.

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 1938 Finest Cold-Weather Gear

We confirmed much of this information from Robert Bain’s book The Clans and Tartans of Scotland, printed in 1938. While textiles like scarves have little value, a kilt from 1700 could bring thousands of dollars — and artworks associated with kilts have brought $10,000 and more. Of particular interest are Scottish kilt pins of various hues, meant to blend in with the family’s tartan colors.

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This is an archival article formerly written and is for informational purposes only. The valuations in this article have likely changed since it was first written.

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