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TARTAN: WHEN IS A PLAID A TARTAN? PROVING AUTHENTICITY (2 min read)

Posted on 22 August 2018

Great Scot Kilts Highlander

At Great Scot we take great pride in the fastidious nature of our tartan sourcing.

You can be sure that each of the tartans we use comes with our valuable guarantee that it is an authentic, registered tartan from the archives located and able to be referenced in the Scottish Register.

When we assess the authenticity of a tartan, we consider the definition of what an authentic tartan is: A reasonable benchmark is that used by the brothers William and Andrew Smith, who compiled their book AUTHENTICATED TARTANS OF THE CLANS AND FAMILIES OF SCOTLAND in 1850.

Here are the most frequently asked questions we have been asked regarding a tartan’s validity:

How were tartans recorded in the past?
Prior to the Scottish Register of Tartans there were several privately-owned Tartan Registers in Scotland and these tartan records were transferred to the Scottish Register of Tartans in 2009.

There are so many tartans to be seen all round the world these days, so what gives a tartan its authenticity?
It is The Scottish Register of Tartans established in 2009, that gives the status of tartan its authenticity. It is the official Scottish Register belonging to Scotland in the public domain and located within the National Archives of Scotland.

There are so many tartans - what happens if there is a duplicate design?
In theory no two tartans are the same and each tartan has a different thread count of colours.  However, tartan belongs to culture and not to science, so similarities have indeed arisen.  Today the Scottish Register of Tartans rejects any new tartan which is “confusingly similar” to an existing registered tartan.

How many tartans are registered each year?
Somewhere around 150 tartans are registered each year.

Can anyone register a tartan?
To enter a tartan into the Scottish Register of Tartans, there is an application form with terms and conditions that need to be fulfilled. Our Heritage Specialist here can do this for you.

If you are unsure of the tartan(s) related to your family or regional heritage, do reach out to our Heritage Specialist, who will always be delighted to tell you about your choices. Click here to contact us. 

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