There is some debate as to where in the world tartan originated. Mummies dating from around 1500 B.C. have been unearthed in Urumchi in the Xinjiang region of Western China together with what are thought to be examples of early tartan textiles.
Fragments of tartan cloth, dating back to the 3rd century A.D., have been found in Falkirk, a town situated between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
In his book The Invention of Scotland (2008) Trevor-Roper says that tartan “is first mentioned in Scotland in the 1530’s, and was by then already associated with the Highlands.”
Today tartan is highly visible in many aspects of Scottish culture and new tartans continue to be registered every year.
John Telfer Dunbar, The Costume of Scotland . London: Batsford, 1981.
John Telfer Dunbar, History of Highland Dress. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, .
John Scott Keltie, History of the Scottish Highlands, Highland Clans and Highland Regiments. Edinburgh; London: A. Fullerton, 1875.