When you think of Scotland then chances are that you are going to think of tartan. This chequered fabric is seen up and down the country and is used in a variety of traditional clothes and also to promote local products.
But where did it come from and why did it become so popular? Let’s take a look at the history of tartan.
What is tartan?
Usually made from wool, tartan is when the material is woven to create stripes of different colours as well as different widths. The way that these stripes are woven and the colours that are chosen create a square-like effect on the material, this pattern is referred to as a sett, which is then repeated over and over again.
Where did it come from?
Tartan was a creation of the Celts and there have been examples of this particular material found across Scandinavia and Europe dating back thousands of years. It is thought that it arrived in Scotland from Ireland during the 5th or 6th Century BC. Although the earliest example found in Scotland is in the 3rd Century AD, where the Falkirk tartan was used as a stopper within an earthenware pot to protect the remains inside it.
Tartan and clans
The reason why there are so many different colour combinations is because they were thought of to be a district tartan, one by clans in order for it to be recognised where they belonged. It was often the case that a community weaver would be responsible for creating the pattern for that clan.
The colouring would depend on the local plants that were available to these weavers, as these would make the dyes for the material. This is why you see such a variety of shades from area to area.
Now tartan is seen all across Scotland, it is a traditional dress and it is even seen in weddings and celebrations south of the border. That said, it is still a thoroughly Scottish tradition.
Whilst we can’t promise that you will find us all wearing tartan on a daily basis here at Mackays, there are plenty of local places that you can see people wearing this amazing fabric. So, why not book in to stay with us for your next break? You never know, you might find that you fall in love with the look so much that you take it home with you.