Along with the kilt and bagpipes the tartan
is the most recognized Scottish symbol and the
most popular. As can be seen everyday it is used and worn by people all over the world.
Many people believe that all tartans are associated with clans, but that is not true. Beside
clan and family tartans there are tartans for organizations, geographical areas, nations,
historic events, individuals, sports teams, corporations, universities, and a host of others.
For example, many U.S. states and Canadian provinces have their own tartans. The U.S. Army,
Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard each has a tartan. There are tartans for the
United States, Wales, Ireland, Ulster, Australia, New Zealand and even the Netherlands
and Germany. There is a tartan to commemorate Princess Diana, another for the Battle of
Culloden and one for the American Bicentennial. Notre Dame and the Virginia Military
Institute are two of a number of American colleges and universities with their own tartans
Then there are several universal or Scottish tartans such as the Black Watch (or
"Government"), the Caledonia, the Hunting Stewart (which is not a Clan Stewart tartan),
the Flower of Scotland, and the Scottish National.
There are over 4,000 tartans recorded with the Scottish Tartans Authority with more being
created and recorded all the time. It's almost certain that even if you are not of Scottish ancestry
you will be able to find a tartan that you can identify with.
The Scottish Tartans Authority was formed in 1996 by leading Scottish weavers and tartan retailers.
It is a registered Scottish charity with the major objective of promoting a deeper knowledge of Scottish
Tartans, their origins, manufacture, use, history and development. Its web address is:
few years ago the Scottish government established an official agency to
register tartans: the Scottish Register of Tartan.
It is very active and registers tartans almost daily. Its web address is: