think of the tartan now, most think of the very
colourful pattern of the cloth of the Scottish
Highlands. But originally the word "tartan"
described the way the thread was woven to make
the cloth: each thread passed over two threads
then under two threads, and so on.... (Indeed,
the original "tartan" was a very light,
woollen material which couldn't really keep the
The oldest known
piece of tartan is one that was found buried in
the ground near Falkirk. It was found in a pot
filled with over 1900 silver Roman coins and is
thought to be about 1700 years old. It is quite
different from many of the colourful tartans that
we all know today. Its believed that it was made
from the undyed wool - dark brown and light
browny/green - of the Soay sheep which once
inhabited Scotland and which still can be found
on the island of St. Kilda.
What is the difference between a tartan and a check?
If you think of
tartan as the pattern, then consider the
Grand-Prix chequered flag - the check is printed
in pure white and pure black squares. But in a
tartan there is always a square where the two
colours of thread cross, which is a speckled
blend of the two colours.
of cloth can be viewed as a number of stages
of the wool
the fibres for spinning
the wool into yarn
- Dyeing of
the thread into cloth