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Build the Mill crowdfunding campaign aims to bring tartan weaving back to the Scottish Highlands


A new crowdfunding campaign has been launched with the aim of establishing the first tartan weaving mill in the Scottish Highlands since the 18th century.

Build the Mill will enable Scottish luxury design House Prickly Thistle Ltd to bring tartan weaving back to its home in the Scottish Highlands and the campaign team are inviting Scots from around the world to be part of it.

Led by Clare Campbell (pictured), a native of the Scottish Highlands and founder of the luxury brand, the company plans to be a 'disrupto'r in the industry and lead a change that will build the only tartan weaving mill in the Highlands of Scotland.

“Given Scotland is the traditional home of tartan, many people find it amazing that there are no tartan weaving mills in the Highland area” said Clare, who traded a career in accountancy to follow a long-held dream to bring tartan back to her native lands. “Furthermore, by bringing the latest textile weaving technology in-house to complement the brand’s design function, we can ensure that we can meet customer demand while at the same time producing cloth of the highest quality. This means that our company gives its clients the opportunity to weave their own piece of history through bespoke tartan designs and products”

Tartan in the Scottish Highlands

Scottish tartan has had a chequered history. The failed Jacobite rebellion of 1745, led by the exiled Charles Edward Stuart – “Bonnie Prince Charlie” – came to a brutal end on Culloden Moor, a bleak plateau of land close to modern day Inverness, and with it brought oppression of the Highland way of life. The story of the rebellion and the sometimes horrific consequences for the native clansmen and women has recently been given international exposure through the TV series Outlander.

As part of the aftermath of the ’45, as it became known, and as many native Highlanders were forced from their homes for supporting the Bonnie Prince, the government of the day also banned all Highland dress, including the tartans which were most closely associated with the clans that had taken part in the rebellion. The ban lasted 35 years and since that time, no dedicated tartan mill has been located in the Highlands.

A new start in the Highlands

“I feel passionately about making this happen in the 21st century,” explained Clare, who can trace her own ancestry back to Clan MacDonald who fought alongside the Prince at Culloden “and where better to do it on the Black Isle, just north of the Culloden battlefield site”

As the Prickly Thistle brand has built up over the past two years, the company struggled to find suitable manufacturing partners in Scotland in what is already a busy sector for the country’s economy. This led Clare and her team to take the step to ‘build the mill’ on the Black Isle. She has already purchased a farm steading (pictured) that was suitable for conversion and has received pre-planning approval for the project.

As part of the Kickstarter campaign that is central to the ‘Build the Mill’  uprising the company is offering unique products to this who pledge money to bring the completed facility to reality.

The campaign, which hopes to raise £500,000 to convert and fit out the mill building runs from 14 October for two months. It will offer luxury reward gift items ranging from £15 to £8,000, all of which are unique to the campaign or are numbered limited edition products. Find out more on the campaign website.

(images copyright Pat Munro)

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