Know Your Tartan

Tartan is a firm indication of a ‘clan’ a ‘select membership’ or ‘association’ and the pattern is instantly recognised all over the world as being thus. Which is why we felt Tartan was the perfect design to reflect the unity of our Royal Marines and the unique close relationships they maintain, many formed from as early as their arduous selection training days.

Tartan has earned its name as one of the most popular and long standing patterns ever known. Tartan never goes out of fashion and there are even samples existing from as early as the 3rd Century AD and can even be traced back to prehistoric times. It is a truly historic and very popular pattern and definitely here to stay!

A ‘Tartan’ is specifically a design which is capable of being woven consisting of two or more alternating coloured stripes which combine vertically and horizontally to form a repeated chequered pattern.’ The Tartan pattern is traditionally known as the sett of the Tartan.

Tartan Historian and Designer James D Scarlett described Tartan as “An art form in which the artist-weaver manipulates a limited range of colours to produce designs of squares and rectangles”.(James D Scarlett ‘Tartan the Highland Textile’ 1990) The basis of any Tartan is a simple two-colour check to which the designer adds over-checks, bands and stripes in contrasting colours. These should be arranged to result in a balanced and harmonious pattern. Where two stripes of the same colour cross, a block of solid colour is formed. Where different colours cross, the two colours are mixed in equal proportions to create a new colour. Ideally, neither colour should ‘swamp’ the other; the two together should make a new intermediate shade. A Tartan pattern is a geometric design, made up of blocks of solid colour which join on the diagonal, radiating across the fabric like spokes, and with each block of solid colour surrounded by blocks of mixed colours.

History of Tartan
Historically Tartan was the everyday wear of Highlanders, spun, dyed, woven and fashioned locally. Wealthy families were able to afford brighter fabrics coloured with imported dyes and fashionably tailored. In the eighteenth century the association of Tartan with the Jacobites led to its proscription in the Highlands from 1747 to 1782. During this period Tartan was worn in the lowlands of Scotland, often as a political statement. It was also popularised across the world as the uniform of the Highland regiments. The end of proscription and the new romantic re-interpretation of Scottish history in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries led to the popularisation of ‘Highland Dress’, as worn by King George IV during his visit to Scotland in 1822 and promoted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Nowadays Tartan is worn all over the world by everyone (not just by Scots), as a real fashion statement and indeed as an identity for many, it is now more popular than ever and is regularly seen on catwalks and in the best designer collections.

“Tartan has arrived on the 21st Century fashion scene and will be integral to any gent’s wardrobe for 2014!”  [Men’s Fashion Magazine, August 2014]

Tartan Day
The Scottish Declaration of Independence was signed on April 6, 1320. The American Declaration of Independence was, in fact, modelled on this particular document. Almost half of the signers of the American Declaration of Independence were of Scottish descent.

The US Senate Resolution on National Tartan Day was passed on March 20, 1998. From that point onward, National Tartan Day was designated as a day for all Americans, particularly those of Scottish descent, on April 6 each year and is celebrated in the USA, UK and many other countries.

The Scottish Declaration of Independence is also known as the ‘Declaration of Arbroath’; Arbroath being the town in Scotland where it was signed.

And the Royal Marines have strong links with Arbroath, as the 45 Commando Group, who are an Amphibious Commando Unit forming part of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, have been based in Arbroath since 1971 when they returned to the UK in 1967 after 24 years of operational service abroad.

Tartan Facts
Click here for 10 x Amazing Tartan Facts you might not know! …