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ANCIENT, MODERN, MUTED OR WEATHERED - IS THERE A RIGHT ONE? (3 min read)

ANCIENT, MODERN, MUTED OR WEATHERED - IS THERE A RIGHT ONE? (3 min read)

 

Great Scot Kilts Fraser

A tartan’s thread count is like its DNA. It does not change. And this is the data which is officially recorded by the Office of Lord Lyon in Scotland. However, as a tartan wearer you may well have further options.

The terms Ancient, Modern, Muted and Weathered are reproduction colour palettes for a Scottish tartan.  The thread count does not change, but the shades of the colours within the thread-count do. This does not make it a different tartan. These are merely more glorious options for the user!

Here are examples of how the tartan colour palettes change for each version:

Ancient: The Ancient colour palette is meant to simulate older plant-derived dyes used before the Victorians invented chemical dyes. They are generally assumed to have been lighter in colour.  In the tartan cloth you’ll notice that:

  • Red turns to orange
  • Blue turns to a light sky blue
  • Green turns to a grassy green
  • Yellow turns to a pale yellow

Modern: The Modern colour palette for Scottish tartans is widely considered to be the standard. It is meant to emulate the modern chemical dyes invented in the 19th century. They are bold, bright and rich, like primary colours.  

  • Red is a bold red
  • Blue is a navy blue
  • Green is a dark bottle green
  • Yellow is a bold yellow

Muted: The Muted colour palette is a contemporary concept meant to emulate soft, natural colours. It generally falls between the lighter ancient colour palette and the richer modern colour palette.

  • Red turns to blood red
  • Blue turns to a stormy sky blue
  • Green turns to an olive green
  • Yellow turns to a gold

Weathered: The Weathered colour palette (also called “Reproduction” by one mill) is meant to look like the tartan has been exposed to the elements. It uses lots of browns and greys to drive that look home.

  • Red turns to a ‘salmon’ red
  • Blue turns to bluish grey
  • Green becomes brown
  • Yellow turns to pale gold

 Is there a right or wrong colour – palette choice for my kilt?

It’s simply personal taste. If you want to be 100% sure that everyone can easily identify which clan you belong to, you may want to select Modern. If you want something lighter in tone just because you like lighter colours, maybe you will love Ancient. Or you may prefer non-modern colours because the Modern version of your tartan is strongly associated with something else. For instance, many Campbells choose to wear Campbell Ancient instead of Modern, which is Black Watch. Many Stewarts prefer other versions than the ubiquitous Royal Stewart.

Muted and Weathered tartans can be wonderful options for different seasons or occasions. For example, Muted tartans look great with a tweed set in the Fall. Weathered tartans have a “woodsy” feel and can be just the thing for a kilt you will be hiking in, or want a really subdued, laid-back look.

At Great Scot we have over a thousand gorgeous tartans for you to choose from – even the rare and difficult to find has never escaped us! We are always happy to make sure that you know about all the choices available. If you want to know more, please do contact our Heritage Specialist HERE.

THE RAWLINSON 'MYTH': DID AN ENGLISHMAN REALLY INVENT THE MODERN KILT? (3 min read)

THE RAWLINSON 'MYTH': DID AN ENGLISHMAN REALLY INVENT THE MODERN KILT? (3 min read)

Prior to the turn of the 18th century, the form of the kilt typically worn in the Scottish Highlands was what is now known as the belted plaid or great kilt, which consisted of a large tartan or multi-coloured blanket or wrap (Gaelic felie, with various spellings) which was gathered into loose pleating and drawn about the body and secured by a belt at the waist, the lower part hanging down covering the legs to about the knee.

 

 

Sometime in the late 17th century or, at the latest, the early part of the 18th century, a new form of this garment was introduced and became popular. This new form consisted essentially of the lower portion only of the great kilt, at first untailored, but many years later with the pleats or belt loops sewn in to better secure the garment about the waist.

 After the repeal of the Act of Proscription, interest grew as to the origins of this new garment, called the little kilt' (Gaelic: felie-beg, Anglicized to philabeg, again with various spellings). In a letter published in Edinburgh Magazine in March 1785, but written some years earlier, in 1768, Ivan Baillie of Aberiachan, Esq. asserted that the new form of the kilt was the creation of Thomas Rawlinson, an English entrepreneur who had established an iron works in the Highlands (specifically, in woodland at Invergarry, near Fort William, Inverness-shire). According to Baillie, Rawlinson, observing how the great kilt was "a cumbersome unwieldy habit to men at work. . ." decided to "abridge the dress, and make it handy and convenient for his workmen". This he did by directing the usage of the lower, pleated portion only, the upper portion being detached and set aside.

Great Scot Belted Plaid

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baillie’s version of events has been disputed. Matthew Newsome, director emeritus of the Scottish Tartans Museum in North Carolina, for instance, has stated that ". . . we have numerous illustrations of Highlanders wearing only the bottom part of the belted plaid that date long before Rawlinson ever set foot in Scotland", going on to assert that "there is some suggestion of its use in the late seventeenth century, and it was definitely being worn in the early eighteenth century".

Notwithstanding, when Baillie's account was published in the Edinburgh Magazine in March 1785, it was not contradicted, and was on the contrary confirmed by the two greatest authorities on Scottish custom of the time, Sir John Sinclair and John Pinkerton and by the independent testimony of the Glengarry family, whose chief, Ian MacDonnell was Rawlinson's business partner.

 

 

 Rawlinson Great Scot Kilts

Though knowledge of Thomas Rawlinson's contribution to Scottish dress was forgotten for the better part of two centuries, this version or myth of the modern kilt’s origins still lives on today, and many who wear it are completely oblivious to the suggestion that it may in fact have English origins.  Regardless of his role in the great history of our national dress, here at Great Scot we are particularly lucky to have a descendent of Thomas Rawlinson on our team. Abigail Rollinson (see our blog on Surnames) manages the Great Scot Clan and like her ancestor, is particularly content to see us grafting away, all day every day in our kilts!

Abiagil Great Scot


 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SPORRAN (3 min read)

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SPORRAN (3 min read)

Sporran is the Gaelic for purse and has become a traditional part of Highland dress that is functional as well as being decorative.

Learn a little more about it's history and how at Great Scot we are harnessing time honoured tradition to bring our customers the most exquisite sporrans available in Scotland.

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YOU ARE MORE THAN JUST A SURNAME: Choosing your Tartan 102 (3 min read)

YOU ARE MORE THAN JUST A SURNAME: Choosing your Tartan 102 (3 min read)

3 min read

An old Gaelic proverb says ‘Remember the men from whence you came.’ By ‘men’ of course, it means humankind, embracing women, which in fact sums up how unfair - and distorting - is the basic principal of surnames. At Great Scot we can help you find your related tartans and produce beautiful items for you so that you can wear your heritage in style. We ship fast & free internationally.

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