17 Interesting facts about the Scottish tartan including its legacy and origins

Tartan is one of Scotland’s most famous cultural exports, but there is more to tartan than its Scottish symbolism.

Patterns of interlocking stripes on clothing are known by many as “plaid” but this is in fact tartan. The word ‘plaid’ actually originates from the Scottish Gaelic ‘plaide’ which means ‘blanket’, and it refers to Highland dress where such material was used to form a ‘kilt’ - a word connected to the Scots language.

Tartan has been dated back to 3000BC in some parts of the world while the earliest known tartans in Scotland came in around the 3rd or 4th century, so why is it such a powerful Scottish symbol? It comes down to Scottish Highland culture and how after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 the British Government passed the Act of Proscription which forbade the use of tartan to suppress Scottish culture. This makes its prominence in Scotland today symbolically powerful when we reflect on its history.

Here are seventeen facts about tartan you (probably) never knew about the Scottish garb.