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Clan Tartans ~ Find Your Clan

Find your Clan Tartans and your Clan to find your place in history.

Are ye’ Scottish? Don’t know for sure?
Do you have a clan? Have you looked for your tartans?

You might be surprised. Many Scottish immigrants left behind their clan and clan tartans as they dispersed across America. But they left clues to their ancestry. Some of these clues are still around, even in your everyday life.

Do you call your father ‘Daddy’, rather than father or papa? You’re probably Scottish!

Did you grow up eating fried chicken and biscuits?

On the Isle of Skye, in 1773, the renowned James Boswell and Samuel Johnson ate fried fowl in the home of Lachlan MacKinnon. From London to Edinburgh, they had been served roasted and broiled chicken.

Within the year, the MacKinnons and hundreds of others immigrated from Skye to North Carolina. We assume the recipe for fried chicken went along.

Southern biscuits? They’re simply the scones of Scotland.

Your last name is another clue. With it you may find a clan affiliation. Once you know your clan, you can also find your clan tartans, clan motto and clan plant. You'll learn of their significance. Then you'll begin to think of ways to use them in your wedding celebration. The history of Scotland, along with the how’s and why’s of immigration to the Americas, will help you better understand your own roots.

If you‘ve been involved in Highland Games, you’re familiar with clan tartans, Highland dress, customs, and thinking. Your wedding planning will go forward more quickly.

For those just developing an interest in things that are Scottish, your learning curve will be slower. But you’ll all end up the same place ~ at the altar, dressed to the nine’s in your regalia. Wearing your Highland attire you'll proudly claim your clan tartans and have a beautiful wedding that celebrates your Scottish-ness.

Scottish History

There’s an old saying that you can’t get anywhere until you know where you’ve been. It true about locating your family roots as well.

To open a link either hold down the Ctrl key when you click
or add the URL address as an “allowed site”

A brief timeline of Scottish history will help you to better understand the Scots as a people ~ then to use the information in your wedding planning.

There are hundreds of sources, both online and in published form, telling the in-depth history of Scotland. Their past is tumultuous ~ fraught with danger, betrayal, and daring.

Inventors, explorers, businessmen, and educators ~ what the Scots have accomplished reveals monumental achievements for so small a nation.

As a people, they had to be strong, forthright, and often cunning. Otherwise, they never would have survived, nor held off so many enemies for so long.

Adding a bit of wry humor, An American Wedding tells much of the things the Scots have done or invented.

A listing of the Kings & Queens of Scotland has been added for your reference.


The Roots Go Deep,
So You Gotta Dig for ‘Em

If you don’t know your clan affiliations, you can search all the surnames in your family ~ your mother, your grandmothers, your grandfathers on your mother’s side ~ looking for the clan affiliations of your names. Once you have those family ties, you can start looking at clan tartans.

By going back three generations to your grandparents, you will have four surnames to search. A Sample Search for a Clan illustrates this process and the results.

You don’t have to use a clan affiliation to select a tartan. There are others associated with military branches and units, universities, occupations, and corporations.

Some people will insist you must have clan tartans, wearing those and no other. This idea developed when King George IV visited Edinburgh, in 1822, and has carried forward to modern times. Prior to the Battle of Culloden, Scots selected whatever was available or to their liking.

The Scottish Tartans Museum, in Franklin, N.C. studies the origins, history, and development of tartans.

Quoting from their Introduction webpage,

    “A clan tartan is one that represents your clan. It is not necessarily the tartan that your ancestors would have worn hundreds of years ago. Highlanders traditionally would have selected any tartan they liked from the available sources. You are still free to do the same! However, it is a fact that tartans today have meaning, and when you wear a tartan you are identifying yourself with what that tartan represents, be it a clan, district, or what have you….”

Or, you can even design your own, specifically for your wedding! That is, if you have 12 to 18 months lead time for the designing and weaving.


Your Clan Affiliations

The search begins with finding a clan affiliation for your surnames. As you find these clan affiliations, write them all down. This website also has quick reference links, with thumbnail graphics of clan tartans. You can do a quick scan, noting those you find attractive.

Next locate your clan plant and your clan motto , writing these down as well. They’ll both figure into your wedding planning and decorating.


Tartan History

What calls to us, with the lure of kilts, plaids and traditions, causing us to want a Scottish wedding?

It’s a land of romantics ~ Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott.

It’s a land of music ~ with the heart-wrenching ballads that tell the story of Scotland’s history.

It’s a land of heroes ~ from the Borders, through the Lowlands, up into the Highlands ~ Rob Roy, William Wallace, the Border Reivers, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and Flora MacDonald.

It’s a land of history and tradition pulling at our heart strings ~ especially when we hear the skirling of the pipes or see the sett of a kilt flashing in the wind.

The Scottish pride in their clothing is not preening, it’s an integral part of their lives and survival. Clan Tartans History traces this development.

There are universal, historic, and commemorative setts you can select from as well.

There are many US, state, city, county, military, and collegiate tartans also available for your use.

Companies and organizations around the world have their own tartans. If you work for or belong to these, you can wear their tartan.

Many people also have Irish or Welsh ancestry. The original Highlanders came from Ireland. The Celt spoken by the Irish and the Highlanders is from the same base language. The Welsh connections isn't quite as close, but they also have a Celtic history. Both countries have created multiple tartans.

With your list of clans and list of clan tartans, go to Clan Tartans of Scotland. The sample pictures are larger and the selection more extensive.

Take your time, looking at the ones you’ve located and listed. Next, just browse through, looking at the various tartans, noting any you really like.

You can mix and match the tartans to your heart’s content. If you’re going to rent kilts for the men, their choice of selections will be narrowed. But don’t let the options for rental kilts determine your bridal choices.

Be aware that the groom does not have to wear the same tartan as the bride. Nor do the groom and his groomsmen. Nor do you and your bridesmaids.

When you find a one whose colors grab you, write it down. Use Tartans of Scotland for your initial search ~ it loads quicker. Once you have tartans you’re interested in, go to the Scotweb Store , look under bestsellers and click Tartan Fabric by the Metre. This will take you to their page where you can select from over 5,000 clan tartans to check for their availability.

When you know which ones are available, go to ‘My Pictures’, or where you save your graphics. Set up a tartan file, with sub-files for color groups.

Here’s some examples:

Houston ~ I just plain like it. The background is an old gold color, but viewed as a whole pattern, the color looks like a shade of kiwi. And from a distance, the eye sees the green stripe as teal.

Rainbow ~ almost carnival in it’s colors.

Culloden is another combination that can be quite striking. Plus the samples are so full of history.

For a Christmas, or Valentine’s, wedding, the red and green choices are almost endless.
Now that you’ve selected some clan tartans you really like, keep them in mind for later. It’s not time to start ordering yet. If you decide to mix different setts together, you’ll need to order color swatches first.

The colors on-line and the colors on the fabric aren’t always the same. Confirming the actual colors and orders will come after you look at Kilts and Wedding Gowns.

If you want to start researching sources for your tartans, go to Tartan Sources


Why Did the Scots Come To America?

Between all the wars in Scotland, the Proscription Act after the Battle of Culloden in 1747, and the Potato Famine of the 1840’s, Scotland had become a very poor country, with little to offer her men.

Some of the Scots came by choice, some were driven. Some came penniless and died that way. Some came penniless and died wealthy. But very few have ever been on the lists of welfare recipients.


King James VI of Scotland, James I of England, issued charters for the English to settle in the New World.

  • In 1607, the London Company founded Jamestown.
  • In 1620, the Plymouth Company landed in Massachusetts.

Scotland has given us inventors, educators, laborers, merchants, politicians, explorers, and others of that ilk.

A list of U.S. accomplishments only begins to tell their story.

The 2000 U.S. Census Data gives some revealing and interesting data about our citizens who claim Scottish heritage.

When you put a man in a kilt something happens to him and the people around him. Jokes and curiosity flourish, but so does an aura and charisma as he proclaims his history through the clan tartans.

The Kilt
~ for the groom, his attendants, and the fathers ~ is your next big decision…

Footnote: If you wish to research your Scottish genealogy in more depth, the official government source is http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

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