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On 30th November, the people of Scotland will celebrate the feast day of Saint Andrew, their patron saint. The Saltire – Scotland’s national flag, will be flown from public buildings and churches across this deeply patriotic nation, and traditionally, many Scots will wear something tartan.

Synonymous with Scotland, tartans are the infinitely variable patterns made up by coloured lines and bands intersecting vertically and horizontally to create a checkered effect.

 
Image Source: https://www.visitbritain.com/us/en/where-celebrate-st-andrews-day-scotland


Closely associated with Celtic culture, until relatively recently tartan was believed to have originated in Scotland around the 17th century. However, it’s history is now thought to go back much further than this.
 
Writing in the first century BCE, the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus described Celtic warriors wearing ‘brightly coloured and embroidered’ clothing, noting that the cloaks were ‘striped or checkered in design, with the separate checks close together and in various colours’.


Image Source: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/brief-history-plaid-180957342/

Tartan may even have its roots in pre-history; the remains of preserved textiles found at archaeological sites in central Asia and in Europe indicate that ancestors of the Celts were weaving tartan patterns at least three thousand years ago.

What is certain is that tartan became established as the symbolic national dress of Scotland in the late 18th century, following on from a ban on the pattern – part of a government attempt to control the warrior clans – which lasted over 30 years until finally being repealed in 1782.


 Image Source: http://en.protothema.gr/a-brief-history-of-the-scottish-tartan/

 
Tartan became popular far beyond the Scottish borders during the 18th and 19th centuries: thanks in no small way to the writer Sir Walter Scott, whose novels – including Ivanhoe and Rob Roy, did much to romanticise Scotland. 
 
Interest in the tartan pattern was also given a significant boost by royal association during the reign of Queen Victoria. The Queen and Prince Albert famously loved all things Scottish, frequently dressing in tartan, and using tartan patterns extensively throughout the interior of Balmoral Castle, their Scottish seat.
 
Tartan was originally created by weaving wool, but today is made from a wide range of materials. In the USA, the pattern is sometimes called plaid or tartan plaid, but just to confuse things, in Scotland, plaid means a tartan cloth worn over the shoulder as an accessory to a kilt.


  Image Source: http://alloakilts.com/


The appeal of tartan has never waned. Adored by the fashion buying public and top designers, versatility and classic status have made tartan a style staple. It’s never far away from the catwalk, and each new season, it makes an entrance to add a touch of Celtic glamour to collections of clothes and fashion accessories.
 
Traditionally, you should only wear a tartan design that’s either associated with your family (or clan) name, or with the area your ancestors originate from, and the waring of some patterns is restricted – like Balmoral tartan, which may only be worn by members of the British royal family.
 

Image Source: https://ca.hellomagazine.com/royalty/02016033024892/royals-wearing-tartan-the-queen-princess-diana-kate-middleton


But the good news is that today, you don’t have to be royalty or even have a Scottish lineage to be able to wear tartan. Royal Stewart tartan – a tartan of the Royal House of Stewart and the personal tartan of the Queen can be worn by anyone.
 
Royal Stewart is the best known of all Scottish tartans, and over recent decades has become hugely popular all around the world. Although – in theory at least – wearing it still requires getting permission from the monarch,  today it’s perfectly acceptable for anyone to wear Royal Stewart tartan. So no need to worry about making an appointment with the Queen before adding it to your wardrobe!
 
According to the Scottish Register of Tartans, the Royal Stewart pattern ‘was first published by James Logan in his book, 'The Scottish Gael' in 1831, but references indicate that it was known at the end of the 18th century – and it was reputed to have been worn by one of Bonnie Prince Charlie's followers in the 1745 rebellion’.
 

Celebrate Scotland with Celtic Chic!
It doesn’t matter if you’re unable to lay claim to royal or Scottish blood, if you’re a Celt at heart you can wear tartan with pride. Our Royal Stewart collection includes handbags, travel bags, computer bags, cosmetic bags and purses to set off any outfit perfectly. You can even buy Royal Stewart cushions for your sofa or bed to bring the romance of the Scottish Highlands into any room of your home!

Royal Stewart Tartan Tapestry Bags
 
Need help? If you’d like any help or advice regarding Signare products, please call us on 0044 845 257 2278 or email us at info@acjade.co.uk.