Historically in Scotland, each family belonged to a clan or group of families that held allegiance to that clan. The clan was identifiable by the tartan, or cloth weave pattern, its members wore, which was particular to an area of Scotland and easily identifiable. The woven tartan-style fabric was a herald that let others know what clan you belonged to. Today it still signifies your family and heritage. Through marriages and alliances, clan members may belong to more than one clan and have more than one tartan or group of tartans. Each tartan is a specific design and color combination representing that clan. There are also different types of tartans within a clan, the dress and hunting tartans for example. Tartans range from the most complex, the Ogilvie tartan with about 96 color changes, to the simplest, which is Rob Roy, a pattern of squares in black and red. Your family tartan or tartans may be a surprising color combination. If you are looking for your family tartan, here are some tips to help you find it.

How to Find Your Family Tartan

Look for websites that list Scottish tartans by family name. Each family name falls under a head clan. It may not match the clan name. There may be many family names listed under one clan. If your family name has been changed at all, look for variations of the name too or use the original spelling if you know it.

Type in your surname and see what tartans come up in the name search. The tartan that comes up may not say the same name as your surname.

Look for the different types of tartans for each clan. There may be a variety of tartan choices for your particular clan. Some clans have regular tartans, dress tartans, hunting tartans and even mourning tartans. They also may vary by color grouping and age (e.g., ancient or old vs. reproduction and modern).

Check into your family genealogy. If you have one clan, you may have others.