Tartan? It’s all Greek to me | Scotland


An archaeological find beside the Mediterranean convinces expert that the distinctive Scottish plaid dates back almost 3,500 years

Dancers at the Ballater Highland GamesALAMY

It is arguably the best-known cloth in the world and is celebrated as Scotland’s national costume. However, an ancient civilisation that thrived in what is now Greece might have blazed the trail for tartan: it seems likely that it was weaving plaid designs for clothing almost 3,500 years ago.

Brian Wilton, one of the world’s leading authorities on the cloth, is convinced that tartan emerged as early as 1440BC.

He has come to the view after the discovery of a Bronze Age warrior’s tomb on a hilltop near the city of Pylos, 170 miles southwest of Athens. The archaeological find in May 2015 suggests that tartan-like designs existed at least 240 years earlier than thought — and might not have been created by Celts.


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