Scotland’s War: scarlet tartan for those who fought in the Great War

Ellis Urquhart, tourism lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University, is the first to wear the Scotland's War tartan.
Ellis Urquhart, tourism lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University, is the first to wear the Scotland's War tartan.
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A new tartan to commemorate the role played by Scots in the First World War - both at the Front and at home - has been launched at the former military hospital where some of Britain’s leading war poets composed their finest works.

‘Scotland’s War’, whose predominant colour is scarlet to signify the blood of the dead and wounded, the Lion Rampant of Scotland and the poppy, was revealed at Napier University’s Craiglockhart campus in Edinburgh.

It was the brainchild of war historian Professor Yvonne McEwen, project director of Scotland’s War 1914-1919.

Prof McEwen, whose project details the hidden stories and impact of the Great War, said: “To me, having a tartan was the most obvious and unifying thing for Scots and the Scots Diaspora.

“There are so many regimental tartans, but no particular ones for the Great War.

“Yet we are an old nation and a battle-weary nation who lost between 100,000-230,000 lives in that war alone. No consistent figure exists for the number killed, but per head of population Scotland contributed more than other nation for people fighting in the war.

“We are a martial race and had recruiting sergeants in the Lowlands but they were hardly needed, and lairds in the Highlands recruiting for Highland regiments.”

Prof McEwen, who teaches at the University of Wolverhampton, added: “It’s absolutely appropriate to launch the tartan here at Craiglockhart, a war hospital, albeit an officers’ hospital. It has become so much part of World War One history that it is almost an icon, a place where some of the great war poets like Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen were patients.”

Hamish Carruthers, textile designer, who gave his services for free to the project, said: “I was delighted to be asked to design ‘Scotland’s War’.

“It has five colours and as well as the scarlet, there’s khaki to represent army regiments; grey for the Royal Flying Corps and Air force; navy blue for the Royal Navy and its supporting organisations such as the Merchant Navy and gold for the Lion Rampant and to represent the light coming back in 1918.”

The tartan has been produced by Lochcarron of Scotland, based in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders .

It has been registered in the official Scottish Register of Tartans.