Sunday, 3 June 2012

T is for Tartan

You remember that little challenge I started in April... I still have a few letters left and after the below message from cousin Helen:
hey steff, would you know the Cameron Clan Tartan by any chance? ive googled and you get a few..thanks so much! Hel
it seems a good time to continue on with the planned topic....

Today T is for Tartan. As in the patterned cloth that most associate with Scotland. As in the ties, kilts, tea towels and scarves that anyone with Scottish surname has received as a souvenir from a friend visiting Scotland!

There are 4 Cameron tartans (described best on the Clan Cameron website...)

From left to right: We commoners can wear this 'basic' Cameron tartan but not the second, the Cameron of Lochiel tartan, which should only be worn by members of the Chief's family. The third, Cameron of Erracht is more a regimental / military tartan and the last is the Hunting Cameron tartan because the basic Cameron tartan, with its fetching green squares on a red sett with its golden line is considered a little bright!

In anticipation of this post I did a bit of reading and found that tartan doesn't seem to have originated in Scotland. According to Wikipedia (who summarises everything so neatly I do tend to hit there first when looking for information on a new topic...) tartan as we know it wasn't a Scottish thing until sometime in the 16th century. Before this it was a more central European thing and tartan material has also been found on a 3000 year old mummy in western China. Who knew...

Once tartan was introduced in Scotland though it became quite the fashion for Highlanders. Not to differentiate between the different clans as Hollywood suggests in Braveheart but rather different types of tartan developed to different regional tastes and of course, resources. And because the tartan was associated with the Highlanders (who in turn were the majority of Jacobites who gave the English crown a bit of a scare in the 18th century) the wearing of tartan was outlawed in 1746 except by army regiments. When the Act was repealed in 1782 tartan wasn't just a Highland fashion anymore but representative of Scotland generally. Eventually various tartans became associated with each clan and were we to meet on the field in battle today it would probably be a little easier to tell friend from foe.

Emma Watson doesn't look too common in our tartan! :op

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