Early Years
The Ban
Tartan Today


Brian Wilton of the Scottish Tartans Authority

When King George III repealed the Act of Proscription of the Highland Garb in 1782 and made it legal to wear tartan again in the Scottish Highlands, little could he have guessed at the cultural gift that he was bestowing upon future generations of Scots the world over.
A Scottish humorist once said that when the émigré Scot left his own territorial waters, his skin immediately turned tartan. In a way he was right, because to that huge international family of Scots and their descendants - estimated at 60 million around the globe - tartan represents everything that is admirable and wholesome about the land of their fathers. Tartan is the only textile design in the world of which a tiny scrap can evoke such feelings of pride, such identification with the historical struggles of Scots and identification with those desirable traits associated with being Scottish - honesty, industriousness and bravery in battle.
But what of tartan itself? It is so much more than shortbread tins and garishly clothed plastic dolls. Much of Scotland’s turbulent past is bedecked in tartan and represents generations of family history and stirring derring-do. In Tartan we look through the eyes of historians ancient and modern and delve into the truths, the myths and the ballyhoo of this great international icon.