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.
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 www.vam.ac.uk/dundee).