District tartans - the oldest tartans?
District tartans can be worn by anyone from or living in a particular area. In a description from 1703 ‘Description of the Western Isles of Scotland’ the concept of the district tartan goes towards establishing the ancient origin of the district tartans. ‘Every Isle differs from each other in their fancy of making plaids as to the stripes and breadth of colours, able to the first view of a man’s plaid to guess the place of residence’ this demonstrates the strength of local affiliation and tartan at the time. As with many tartans which have evolved over time with new being made to today, some of the district tartans are from the 18th century, while other are more recent additions. The following district tartans are accepted district sets – Lennox, Paisley, Stirling, Dundee, Galloway, Aberdeen, Crieff, Huntley, Bannockburn, Strathearn, Tweedside, Nithsdale, and Lochaber. Additionally each of Canada’s provinces apart from Quebec has its own district tartan. The historical evidence for tartans linked to a particular area of Scotland is in fact much stronger that the historical evidence for links between tartans and different families or clans. Lennox tartan from an area near Glasgow is one of the earliest tartans to be recorded, and dates from the mid – sixteenth century. However looking at tartan origins and whether district or clan tartans came first the scenario need not be either or as often family groups wore similar patterns as what would have been available to them in the local area was limited to what local weavers were able to offer.