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The History of the Tartan

If you recall one of our earlier posts on How To Choose A Kilt, we shared some basic information regarding what a tartan is, with a little bit of history behind its origins. Today, I want to talk more about the history of the tartan, since there seems to be a lot of uncertainty regarding when tartans actually became a thing.

Just so we’re all on the same page, a tartan is a pattern consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in different colors, which result in a distinctive pattern known as a sett. A tartan, which is often referred to as plaid in the U.S., is almost always associated with Scotland and Scottish kilts. 🙂


The reason why tartans are always associated with Scotland is because for centuries records make countless references about inhabitants of the region, describing them as dressed in “mottled” or “chequered” clothing. Seems like sufficient evidence to me, seeing as these records date alllll the way back to the 16th century!

However, from what I gather from different sources, it seems like these records only account for what we consider a tartan today! There is even further evidence linking the tartan to ancient Celtic civilizations in Central Europe between the 8th and 6th century BC. How crazy is that?! Actual tartan-like fabrics have been found in places like Austria and Scandinavia.

Another piece of tartan fabric was recorded in Britain around the 3rd century AD in Falkirk, Scotland, which was then coined the Falkirk tartan. The Falkirk tartan is one of the earliest forms of the border tartan, which is a simple crossweave of dark and light checks, and is believed to date back to Roman times.

After that, most records support the history of the tartan evolving among tribes and communities living on the various islands and the mainland of the Highlands during the 16th century and on. Since tartans stuck around as the main, everyday attire for the highlanders, it eventually became associated with Scottish clans and culture.

Today there are over 4000 registered tartan designs, and only 500 designs have actually been woven! Whoa. Bet you didn’t know that one! 😉

We have quite a selection of tartans available as well, definitely worth checking out in light of all this talk about tartans!! I hope you enjoyed a little taste of tartan history today! Share our blog and keep your eyes peeled for our next blog post! 🙂

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Texas Renaissance Festival 2016

Soo excited for October to begin since it’s around this time each year when we can finally allow ourselves to get SUPER excited for the upcoming Texas Renaissance Festival!

It’s less than a week away everybody, and I hope you’re as hyped about it as we are! We’ve only been attending the past eleven years, no big deal.

Scot Shoppe at TRF back in 2006!
Scot Shoppe at Texas RenFaire back in 2006!

Since this is one of the largest and most beloved renaissance festivals in the country (seriously, it was even voted number one in USA Today’s Best Cultural Festivals), we just have to be there 🙂

In T-7 days, the festival will officially open its Royal Gates, once again, and we can all enjoy a magical season filled with eight ingeniously-themed, fun-filled weekends! 😀

Although each themed weekend is spectacular, we are especially excited for themed weekend number seven, the Highland Fling weekend! Obviously. So mark your calendars for that one, we know we will.

Image courtesy of Texas Renaissance Festival site.
Image courtesy of Texas Renaissance Festival.

A little bit of history..

George Coulam is the founder of the Texas Renaissance Festival, and it was his vision and creativity that brought this magical place into existence.<3

This wonderful time of the year all started back in 1974 when the Texas RenFaire was launched on 15 acres of land from an old strip mining site, just 50 miles northwest of Houston, Texas. This was after Coulams’ previous unsuccessful attempts in places like Utah and Minnesota. (Thank you Texas!)

Inspired by the likes of Walt Disney himself, Coulam was determined to create a magical place where people could let loose and be themselves, as if it were more than 5 centuries earlier. 🙂 From this idea Coulam was determined to recreate a 16th century English township, and over time his vision came to fruition!

Today, the Texas Renaissance Festivals greets more than half a million guests annually and covers about 55 acres of land overall in Todd Mission, Texas. More than 400 shops and vendors station themselves in the New Market Village, as guests seek to escape reality and enter a place where Kings and Queens, Lords and Ladies, knights, nobles, musicians, artisans and merchants are the norm!

It’s really such a blast. Plus, we will be among the shops there featuring our exquisite tartan kilts for our fellow Scottish lads! 🙂

Hope to see you there!

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History of the Blackwatch

The myriad of tartans available, which we’ve discussed before, never ceases to amaze me! Luckily, most of you who know which clan your ancestors originated from probably know a thing or two about the history of your familial roots. As we mentioned before, for those of us who are clan-less, it’s more than common to wear the super popular, neutral tartan kilt – the Blackwatch.

What do we really know about the history of this beloved kilt?


Well, let me tell ya, it’s always interesting to hear a bit of history behind such a timeless tartan whose symbolism has been ingrained in the Scottish culture for sooo many years.

In fact, this tartan is representative of the Scottish military, whose origins date waaay back to the early part of the 18th century. The Black Watch is the senior and oldest Highland regiment, which, according to Royle’s book on it’s fascinating history, attributes some of it’s popularity to the story behind it’s creation.

Early on in the Highlands of Scotland, during a chaotic and rebellious time, an infantry regiment composed of tough, fighting soldiers were needed to bring criminals and rebels to justice. This regiment was composed of 525 native Highlander men from six independent companies, who together were known as Am Freiceadan Dubh, which is Gaelic for “the dark” or “black watch.”

The origin behind the name is unclear, however one theory suggests The Black Watch name came from the dark, plaid uniforms they had to wear. This set them apart from the other government regiments whose soldiers wore red coats.

Another interesting theory suggests that they were actually referred to as “black hearts,” since they supported the government’s desire to enforce law and order in the Highland region, going completely against the so-called “true Highland spirit” – which, at the time, included cattle rustling and extortion. Tsk tsk.

Over time, The Black Watch was not only seen as a military regiment, but rather a representation of the country’s people as a whole. One of the regiment’s most distinguished soldiers, Field Marshal Earl Wavell, sums up the essence of The Black Watch quite nicely:

“The Jock of Today comes from the city as often as from the hills or fields. But he still inherits the spirit and traditions of his Highland forebears – the clan feeling ,the toughness, the fierceness in assault, the independence of character, the boundless self-confidence in his own powers in all circumstances and conditions.”

The Black Watch has been around for over two centuries, and evolved into such a well-regarded and admired military force. The history behind its founding and it’s necessity also continue to contribute to The Black Watch’s allure and prestige, which persisted throughout the country’s history!

It’s no wonder the Blackwatch kilt is sooo popular, as the tartan is literally rooted in so much history and Scottish pride. 🙂