Search for glossary terms (regular expression allowed)


Term Main definition

Traditional, authentic tartan cloths are usually made of wool in a twill weave. It is, however, possible to weave tartan, with any textile fibre provided that the sett (number of threads per colour in each warp and each weft stripe) is accurate and accredited by The Scottish Tartan Society and recorded in the Register of All Publicly Known Tartans. The Falkirk sett, the earliest known tartan woven from the undyed brown and natural white wool of the Soay sheep, dates back to the 3rd century AD. There are three types of tartan pattern:

  • Symmetrical setts
  • Asymmetrical setts
  • Equal check

Although tartans were woven and used earlier than the 18th century, clan tartans had not yet emerged. Sometimes the term tartan is confused with the term plaid. The word tartan is derived from the French word tiretaine meaning linsey-woolsey. See plaid and linsey-woolsey.