Tartan is an enormously popular pattern in modern fashion. Beginning as Highland dress, it was originally peculiar to certain areas of Scotland, but is now generally accepted as its national costume: what was once ordinary working clothing of a distinctive local style has been formalised into a ceremonial dress, with tartans once woven according to the fancy of those who wore them becoming fixed with certain patterns prescribed for different families, areas or institutions. This process was not, as is popularly thought, a phenomenon begun by the romantic novels of Sir Walter Scott, but began long before as a reaction to the union with England in 1707. This book traces not only the early stages of that evolution, but the process by which the various tartans became icons of Scottish identity.
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