Home / Funny / Viral / Oldest Tartan Fabric Recently Discovered In Scottish Bog


Tartans evoke all things Scottish. There is a proud and long history behind these checked fabrics. A set, or collection of crosshatched lines in various colours, on a solid background produces distinctive patterns associated with military or familial ties. Official tartans are registered with The Scottish Register of Tartans, which includes both historic and contemporary designs. According to experts, the tartan has been around since the 15th century at the latest.

By the 18th century, it had become associated with Scottish insurrection and was even made illegal by British law. Even though fabric is one of the more transient historical artefacts, exceptional preservation can occasionally be the outcome of chance. 

Thought to be the oldest extant tartan, it was uncovered recently in a highland peat bog, providing a window into a bygone era of fashion. The fabric fragment was found in a peat bog in the Glen Affric region of the Scottish highlands. It was only realised 40 years ago, but modern technology makes its true significance possible. Green, yellow, and red natural dyes were utilised to tint the fabric, according to tests conducted on the fibres. These dyes would be derived from natural materials like indigo and woad. Its age was discovered to be an astounding 500 years old after more testing. 

The Scottish Tartans Authority's Peter MacDonald states that the tartan was woven in the sixteenth century and "is likely to date to the reign of James V, Mary Queen of Scots, or James VI."

A Smithsonian Magazine article about bog bodies states that "sphagnum moss layers accumulate over thousands of years, eventually forming a dome fed entirely by rainwater." A raised bog has a high acid content but very little oxygen and few minerals. You have an excellent refrigerator when you factor in the chilly temperatures of Northern Europe.

The organic components of the tartan were preserved in part because of these same factors. But now the tartan has come alive again. At the House of Edgar, tartan historians and designers worked together to recreate the tartan for contemporary tastes. Even the tartan is available for purchase for lovers of all things Scottish and historical. Even though it was probably a working garment in the past, there are a ton of ways to style the contemporary versions.

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