Scotland’s oldest tartan goes on display

Radiocarbon dating found that a date of c.1500-1600 was probable

A piece of woollen textile recovered from a peat bog in Glen Affric in the Scottish Highlands around 40 years ago is the oldest true tartan to survive in Scotland, according to new analysis.

Alan Richardson IMAGE: Alan Richardson/V&A Dundee

Measuring around 55cm by 43cm, the tartan features several colours and stripes of different sizes. In research commissioned by the Scottish Tartans Authority, radiocarbon dating found that a date of c.1500-1600 was probable, while dye analysis found no artificial or semi-synthetic dyes, which supports a pre-1750 date.

The small fragment of cloth known as the Falkirk ‘tartan’, found with an early 3rd century AD coin hoard, is not considered a true tartan due to its simpler check design with undyed yarns.

The Glen Affric tartan is currently on display for the first time in V&A Dundee’s Tartan exhibition until 14 January 2024 (for details, see