How Tartan Curtains Can Give Your Home A Truly Scottish Feel

29th Nov 2021
How Tartan Curtains Can Give Your Home A Truly Scottish Feel

As a Glasgow-based firm, we know only too well how much Scots love their country. While there is much debate about what this means in political terms, there is no doubt that patriotism runs deep in a land that has punched above its weight in areas ranging from science and engineering through to sport, culture and literature.

At the heart of this are some of the most distinctive traditions of Scottish life and heritage. Few nations could have so many symbols that are quintessentially and uniquely identifiable as markers of nationhood. Be it haggis and whisky, kilts and bagpipes, tartan or even Irn Bru.

Of course, you may be someone who will never miss a chance to wear a kilt to a wedding or any other special occasion, and would love to decorate your house in the same way. At the same time, you want it to still be welcoming - even if your guests are English - so this should be all about the familiar as well as the hospitable.

Tartan curtains are ideal for this. While they provide a distinctly Scottish visual element, they also provide the perfect practical comfort, keeping in the heat and light of a room on a dark night, providing a sense of warmth and comfort.

As we have noted in our blogs before, tartan has not always been worn by Scots and is a relatively modern tradition. Sadly, Hollywood film makers got it wrong by portraying William Wallace as wearing it in Braveheart, as it did not actually become popular until the 17th century, and then as Highland dress. In reality, of course, the real William Wallace was probably a lowlander anyway.

Tartan suddenly became unfashionable after 1746 and the defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden, with restrictions on its use, but this changed in the 19th century when the Royals started wearing it at Balmoral.

Moreover, with Culloden coming not so long after the 1707 Act of Union, tartan has come to represent a sense of Scottishness. A great irony is that the restrictions were placed on it after men in kilts were defeated in battle, yet Scottish military regiments in the British army are distinguished by wearing it even to this day.

Much of Highland life before 1746 was about the clan system and while that has long gone, various clan tartans are one of the key links with the past. Your family may be able to point to its own name, or an association; for example, if your surname is Simpson you can claim to be in the Fraser Clan, which would no doubt make the sight of Homer and OJ at a clan gathering quite something. 

Of course, it’s not just about traditional. The Scottish Register of Tartans has a full list of every type of registered designs. While many date back centuries, new ones are emerging all the time, and not all of them are actually Scottish.

For example, there is Alberta and Maple Leaf from Canada, New York City from the US, Connemara, All Ireland Blue, Green and Red from the emerald Isle and even some English ones, although Cornish National emphasises a different identity for the Celts residing in the far south west of England. Rest assured, however, ‘Welsh Tartan’ Burberry does not make this list.

Of course, none of this really diminishes the Scottishness of Tartan. Not only was it a Scottish invention, but it will be Canadians and Irish of Scots heritage who will have taken up the art overseas. Even in Cornwall, it might safely be said that there is a sense of appreciation from fellow Celts.

Indeed, some might wonder if one day there will be a Corby Tartan, given that it has been the most Scottish town in England for decades since the steel workers moved there en masse from Motherwell.  

No doubt plenty of people of Scottish heritage in Corby do have tartan curtains and other furnishings, and the great thing about tartan is it really does travel well; whether your home is in Bathgate or Bath, Bellshill or Belfast, Aberdeen or Aberdare, it will tell any visitor there’s a Scot at home. 

At the same time, it will also mean you don’t need to get out the kilt and bagpipes every time you have a visitor, or put on any other item of clothing that went out when the Bay City Rollers retired.

Instead, you can focus on that other great tradition of Scots hospitality, providing the warmest of welcomes, in a home that looks not just Scottish, but stylish and cosy too.