21/02/2018
Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

What tartan can I wear?

241afe8f-5e00-4d1f-ba6e-ae46e842622b

Find out which tartan you can wear and discover which tartan is linked to your family name or the region where your ancestors lived.

Millions of people around the world are proud to wear tartan – which, according to the 2008 Scottish Register of Tartans Act is ‘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’.

Join the History Scotland community  
Follow us on facebook
Follow us on twitter
Sign up for our free e-newsletter

Discover History Scotland magazine

Tartan is perhaps best known when worn as a kilt, but can feature on many other items including ties, hats, blankets and shawls.

What tartan can I wear?

There are no set rules about who can wear what tartan but traditionally, people look for a tartan associated either with the name of their clan, or the tartan associated with the region where their ancestors lived. There is also a range of tartans which can be worn by those without a family connection to a clan or sept.

Just a few tartans are classed as restricted wear, for example the Balmoral tartan which can only be worn by members of the British Royal Family, and also several tartans restricted to certain clan members only.

Which tartan is associated with my clan?

To find out whether your surname or clan has a tartan associated with it, visit the website of the Scottish Register of Tartans. Simply enter your clan or surname into the ‘quick tartan search box’ on the top right and if there’s a match, you’ll be taken to a page which shows the tartan and details including the date of registration and the tartan designer where applicable. You can also use the A-Z guide to browse the tartans.

The Scottish Register of Tartans also registers new tartans, including those created for individuals, schools, groups and other organisations. Prior to the establishment of the Register, tartans were recorded by the Scottish Tartans Society, the Scottish Tartans World Register and the Scottish Tartans Authority.

The Stewart Tartan

One of the best known tartans is the Royal Stewart tartan, which is associated with the Royal House of Stewart, which reigned from 1316 (Robert II of Scots) to 1714 (Queen Anne).

This tartan can be worn by anyone and it is also the personal tartan of the current queen. Others who wear the Royal Stewart tartan include the Scots Guard, the Black Watch and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

Despite its royal associations, the Royal Stewart Tartan can be worn by anyone, a status confirmed by the Scottish Register of Tartans, who state: ‘In the same way that clansmen wear the tartan of their chief, it is appropriate for all subjects of the Queen to wear the Royal Stewart tartan’.

Back to "Societies and Clans" Category

21/02/2018 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Thomas Douglas was born - On this day in history

Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, was born on 20 June 1771. ...


Volunteers to save historic Borders mausoleum with £128,000 grant funding

The £128,894 restoration of one of the Borders' most fascinating landmarks – the Monteath Douglas Mausoleum, ...


King James VI of Scotland was born - On this day in history

King James VI of Scotland was born on 19 June 1566. ...


Back in Time Day at New Lanark, 8 July 2018

Experience the changes which took place at New Lanark in the Victorian era, at a special 'step back in time ...


Other Articles

The Battle of Waterloo was fought - On this day in history

The Battle of Waterloo was fought on 18 June 1815.


Five facts you (probably) didn't know about The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Find out about the history of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo with these five fascinating facts. ...


Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned at Loch Leven Castle - On this day in history

On 17 June 1567, Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned at Loch Leven Castle. ...


Golfer Tom Morris was born - On this day in history

Scottish golfer 'Old Tom Morris' was born on 16 June 1821.