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Waverley Scotland - Tartan Notebooks and Journals from Scotland | Waverley Scotland - What Tartan can I wear?

Most people wear a tartan that they have a family connection with, and there are over 3,500 tartans in existence. Most people research their own family tartan and decide which one to wear. Most people first research the surnames of their grandparents, or further back, to find out which tartans or clans they are involved with. There is a huge amount of information online and in specialist books to help. Many people who cannot find information about their Scottish family background choose to wear a 'district' tartan and there are many of these. It may be named after a city or certain area of Scotland. Of course, 'clans' began because people living in a certain area would wear the same tartan because of the local dyes and cloth available from the local weaver, or because of an association with the local clan chief or family. 'Sett' is the name given to the pattern of a tartan. The sett was determined by the colours/dyes available and how the handloom was set up.

Your own tartan: If you prefer to have your own tartan, (it can be expensive) you can start with an existing one and change some of the colours or proportions, or you can start from scratch. Once designed, you need to check your tartan with the Scottish Register of Tartans to ensure it does not copy an existing one. And then you have to register it. However... most producers and weavers respectfully advise you study tartan and ask for some advice before you start. Many companies and people now have their own tartans.To find out more about the story of each tartan, you can read the history of each one online or in one of the many excellent books available. The origin of tartans tells us something always about the history of Scotland, and develops our knowledge too of cloth, dyes and how people lived.

Each of the tartan commonplace notebooks comes with a bookmark that gives a brief history of the origins of that tartan. Deirdre Kinloch Anderson has written about the history of tartans and her family company also in her book: A Scottish Tradition. £25.00 available from Waverley Books.

To read about the origins of the phrase 'Commonplace Notebook' please see our section on 'The Commonplace Notebook' which we found out about while researching some of our books on Robert Burns.


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A Scottish Tradition: Tailors and Kiltmakers, Tartan and Highland Dress since 1868A Scottish Tradition: Tailors and Kiltmakers, Tartan and Highland Dress since 1868Our price: £25.00ViewAvailable nowBlack Watch Tartan Commonplace Large Notebook - Waverley Scotland Genuine Tartan Cloth Commonplace NotebookBlack Watch Tartan Commonplace Large Notebook - Waverley Scotland Genuine Tartan Cloth Commonplace NotebookOur price: £15.99ViewThe Black Watch tartan is a rich, dark green and blue laced with black .The Black Watch was formed in the wake of the unsuccessful 1715 Jacobite Rebellion, where James Francis Edward Stuart (1688–1766), son of the deposed James II, fought to put the exiled House of Stuart back on the throne. From 1725, General George Wade (1673–1748) formed six military companies from the clans of the Campbells, Grants, Frasers and Munros. They were stationed in small detachments across the Highlands to prevent fighting among the clans, deter raiding, and to assist in enforcing laws against the carrying of weapons. In short, they were tasked with protecting the interests of the Hanoverian throne in Scotland. Wade issued an order in May 1725, for the companies all to wear plaid of the same sort and colour. Their original uniform was made from a 12-yard long plaid of the tartan that we know now as the Black Watch tartan. They wore a scarlet jacket and waistcoat, with the tartan cloth worn over the left shoulder. The name is said to come from the dark tartan they wore, hence “black”, and from the fact that they were policing the land, hence “watch”.The Clans and Tartan Maps of Scotland (folded)The Clans and Tartan Maps of Scotland (folded)Our price: £7.99View Waverley Scotland Genuine Tartan Cloth Commonplace Notebook – Davidson AncientWaverley Scotland Genuine Tartan Cloth Commonplace Notebook – Davidson AncientOur price: £10.99ViewThe Davidson Ancient tartan is a bright green and blue design, with black overlaid. It has a happy single orange stripe.The Davidsons appear to have been a Gaelic-speaking clan who lived on lands in Badenoch (a historic area in Strathspey in the Highlands). In the early part of the 14th century, the Davidsons became part of the Clan Chattan confederation. That was an alliance of clans that included the MacPhersons, Mackintoshes, MacGillivrays and MacBeans. The first chief, David Dubh, was the son of Donald Dubh. He was a Comyn, and married Slane, daughter of the sixth Mackintosh chief. Thereafter the clan became known as Clan Dhai.In the late 14th century the Davidsons appear to have been virtually destroyed by clan conflict. in 1370 there was a battle of Invernahaven over land rent when the Camerons marched on the Mackintoshes. As the rival clans prepared for combat, the Mackintoshes had the support of other families in the Clan Chattan confederation, including the Davidsons and the MacPhersons. However, a disagreement arose between these two clans over the command in battle. The MacPhersons left the field feeling they had been dishonoured. In the ensuing confusion the Camerons attacked the Davidsons who, it is said, suffered almost complete annihilation.Another account cites a clan battle in 1396 on the North Inch at Perth that was fought in front of King Robert III. The Davidsons fought as part of the Clan Chattan forces against the Camerons. Soon after this battle it seems that the Davidsons moved to Tulloch, the area with which the family is principally associated. Over the centuries the name appears in other parts of Scotland, including the Borders.Waverley Scotland Genuine Tartan Cloth Commonplace Notebooks – Elliot (large)Waverley Scotland Genuine Tartan Cloth Commonplace Notebooks – Elliot (large)Our price: £15.99ViewThe Elliot tartan is a bright blue tartan with black banding and bright red accents.The Elliots appear as a clan with a chief in the Scottish Borders around the 15th century, with territory around Upper Liddesdale. They were notorious Border Reivers. Reivers were families who raided the Border lands. They came from both England and Scotland.The Elliots are said to be of Breton origin. They came to Britain with William the Conqueror’s invading army in 1066. Elliots have many varied spellings of their name. They settled all over the British Isles. They are based at Glenshee in Angus and they gave their name to Elliot Water in Angus. However, around the time of Robert the Bruce, they made a move to Teviotdale in the Borders.The principal family in the early 15th century was Elliot of Redheugh. In 1426, a John Elwalde of Teviotdale is recorded. In 1476, Robert Ellot of Redheugh appears as the 10th chief of the clan. Before that, Robert Ellot built a strong tower on a cliff overlooking the ford on Hermitage Water in Liddesdale in 1470. This was just one of about 100-strong towers around Liddesdale which belonged to the Ellots. They shared them with the Clan Armstrong, another Border Reiver clan. The Elliots of Stobs are also in the Borders. They can be traced back to Gawain Elliot of Stobs in the late 16th century. Gawain was descended from the Elliots of Redheugh. Elliot is an adapted version of the old English name Elwold. There is also a theory that it is derived from the name of an old Breton tribe, Halgoët. Halgoët is based on the Breton word for willow or saugh tree. The names Elwald, Elwalde and Ellot were common variations.Waverley Scotland Genuine Tartan Cloth Commonplace Notebooks – Isle of Skye (large)Waverley Scotland Genuine Tartan Cloth Commonplace Notebooks – Isle of Skye (large)Our price: £15.99ViewThe Isle of Skye tartan blends rich, heathery purples with shades of misty and mossy greens.The Isle of Skye, long celebrated for its beauty in poetry and song, is situated off the west coast of Scotland, connected to the mainland by a bridge. The island’s largest town is Portree, famous for the brightly coloured houses in its harbour.Skye’s history includes a period of Norse rule and domination by Clan MacLeod and Clan Donald. It suffered particularly in the 18th-century following the Jacobite Risings, and with the breaking up of the clan system, and following the Highland Clearances that led entire communities to have to leave their land – some via forced emigrations. After the failed Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, Flora MacDonald helped to rescue Prince Charles Edward Stuart from the Hanoverian troops, disguising him and taking him to Skye to hide.
Waverley Scotland Genuine Tartan Cloth Commonplace Notebooks – Royal Stewart (large)Waverley Scotland Genuine Tartan Cloth Commonplace Notebooks – Royal Stewart (large)Our price: £15.99ViewThe Royal Stewart tartan is a rich red with black banding, crossed with a myriad of yellow, blue, green and white.The progenitor of this noble family was a Breton, Alan Fitz Flaad (fl. c. 1090c. 1120). In England, Alan was appointed Sheriff of Shropshire by Henry I. His son Walter Fitz Alan (1106–1177), was created High Steward of Scotland in the reign of David I (1084–1153), an office where the duties included managing the King’s finances. The title was made hereditary in the family by Malcolm IV. Walter, the 3rd High Steward of Scotland (d. 1246), assumed the name of his office as his family surname, Stewart. Walter the 6th High Steward (1296–1327) married Marjory Bruce (d. 1246), the daughter of King Robert the Bruce (1274–1329). When David II died (1324–1371), he was succeeded by Walter Stewart’s son, Robert (1316–1390), 1st of the Royal House of Stewart. King Robert II’s eldest son John, succeeded as Robert III (1337–1405). The royal line of male Stewarts was uninterrupted until the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542–1587). Mary was executed for supposedly plotting against Elizabeth I of England. Her son James VI became James I of England (1566–1625) and ruled for 57 years. His son Charles I was beheaded for defying the government and Charles II was deposed because of his religion. James VII and II, married to Mary of Modena, produced a Catholic heir, James Francis Edward Stuart. For this James II was deposed and the family exiled in France. In 1702, claiming his father’s lost throne, James Francis was attainted for treason in London, and his titles forfeited. The Jacobite Risings of 1715 and 1745 in Scotland, aimed, but failed, to put a Stewart (now Stuart) back on the Scottish throne.The Royal Stewart “sett” is known as “the Royal Tartan”. The Stewarts have several tartans, the Royal being the most famous.
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