Scottish Tartans Society

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Coat of arms of the Scottish Tartans Society.

The Scottish Tartans Society (STS), now defunct, was a society committed to the recording and preservation of woven tartan designs from around the world; it maintained the Register of All Publicly Known Tartans. The society was first formed in 1963 and existed for about 40 years. The Scottish Tartans Society ceased to record new tartan designs in about the year 2000, having recorded about 2,700 different designs. Today, similar functions are provided by the Scottish government's Scottish Register of Tartans (SRT), which affords some legal recognition to tartans registered with it, and the nonprofit Scottish Tartans Authority (STA), founded by ex-STS members.

Creation and closure[edit]

The Scottish Tartans Society was first formed in 1963, by several scholars of tartan and highland dress, with the encouragement of the Lord Lyon King of Arms. The society set out to preserve and record every woven tartan known, including clan tartans and artifacts from several museums and private collections.[1] The society also strove to promote the research into highland dress, and to assist in the designing of new tartans.[2] It was also a recognised charity, under Scots law.[3] The society's register of tartans was known as the Register of All Publicly Known Tartans. This register was originally a physical collection, consisting of tartans and fabrics. Later, however, the register was eventually transferred to computer in the form of an electronic database.[1][4] In 1976, the society was accounted as an "Incorporation Noble in the Noblesse of Scotland", being granted a coat of arms by the Lord Lyon King of Arms.[3] In 1988, the society established a museum of tartan and highland dress in Highlands, North Carolina, United States. In 1994, the museum moved to Franklin, North Carolina, where it exists today.[2] In 1996, several members of the society left to create their own organisation, called the Scottish Tartans Authority, or (STA).[3] The Scottish Tartans Society ran into financial difficulties and ceased to record new tartan designs around the year 2000.[4] By this time, about 2,700 tartans had been recorded by the society. Among the tartans recorded by the society are clan or family, district, individual, commemorative and various other tartans.[3] The society is now defunct.[5]

Birth of the Scottish Tartans World Register[edit]

Logo of the Scottish Tartans World Register.

The archives of the Scottish Tartans Society have been kept, since STS's closure, by the Scottish Tartans World Register, and remain with STWR as of 2008.[5] This organisation is a non-authoritative body, which aims to record any tartan, new or old, upon request.[6] This organisation was formed by the consultant to the Scottish Tartans Society. STWR is the trading name of a registered company, Tartan Registration Limited. This company is also a registered Scottish Charity.[7]

Their database, also called the Scottish Tartans World Register, is based upon the Register of All Publicly Known Tartans, and consists of a computer database,[8] of about 3,000 tartan designs.[5] The STWR currently registers any tartans upon request. The STWR will either "note" a design, free of charge, or formally "register" any tartan at the cost of £50.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Scottish Tartans Society". Scottish Tartans World Register ( Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  2. ^ a b "About Us". Scottish Tartans Museum ( Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  3. ^ a b c d Newsome, Matthew A. C. (December 2004). "What’s the "official" word about tartans?". ( Archived from the original on 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  4. ^ a b "Consultation on the Creation of A Register of Tartan" (pdf). The Scottish Parliament ( Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  5. ^ a b c "SCOTTISH REGISTER OF TARTANS BILL" (pdf). The Scottish Parliament ( Retrieved 2008-09-08.  This document relates to the Scottish Register of Tartans Bill (SP Bill 8) as introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 25 March 2008
  6. ^ "The Structure of the Scottish Tartans World Register". Tartans of Scotland ( Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  7. ^ "About the Scottish Tartan World Register". Scottish Tartans World Register ( Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  8. ^ a b "Recording Tartan". Scottish Tartans World Register ( Retrieved 2008-09-07. 

External links[edit]

  • Tartans of Scotland, official website of the Scottish Tartans World Register. Contains free information on its list of registered tartans.