The Scottish Register of Tartans

7 February 2016
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The Scottish Register of Tartans

The Scottish Register of Tartans was established by an act of the Scottish Parliament in November 2008, following a Member’s Bill submitted by Jamie McGrigor MSP in February 2007. The full text of the Scottish Register of Tartans Act 2008 is available to read online.

Members of the Scottish Parliament voted to establish a single, independent Scottish register of tartans which promotes and preserves information about historic and contemporary tartans from Scotland and throughout the world.

The Register was launched on 5 February 2009 and the first tartan to be registered on that day was the Scottish Register of Tartans’ Tartan (STR #10000).

The Register is administered by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) with advice from the Court of the Lord Lyon and representatives of the Scottish tartan industry. The Keeper of the Records of Scotland and Registrar General for Scotland is also the Keeper of the Scottish Register of Tartans.

Prior to the establishment of the Register, tartans were recorded by the Scottish Tartans Society, the Scottish Tartans World Register and the Scottish Tartans Authority. You can read more about these organisations and their previous recording functions.

The Database

The Register database contains information on thousands of tartans, which can be freely searched.

It includes all tartans registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans since its introduction on 5 February 2009.

The database also incorporates tartans formerly recorded by the Scottish Tartans Society (STS), the Scottish Tartans Authority (STA) and/or the Scottish Tartans World Register (STWR).

The National Records of Scotland worked with the STA and the STWR to amalgamate their former databases into a single dataset for the Register. The resulting database is still being checked. Users are encouraged to email if they discover any inaccuracies or discrepancies.

It should be noted that the STA and the STWR applied different criteria for registration. Not all tartans recognised by one organisation were recognised by the other and vice versa. Notes or background information made available for pre-existing tartans may derive from a variety of external sources. Every effort is being made to check and validate this information; however it is acknowledged that inaccuracies or lack of clarity may still exist in some of the records. The National Records of Scotland will continue to work with its tartan industry partners over the coming years to improve this information.

All tartans registered since 5 February 2009 comply with the criteria set out in the Scottish Register of Tartans Act 2008.

The National Records of Scotland

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The National Records of Scotland is responsible for administering and running the Scottish Register of Tartans.

Preserving the Past

NRS aims to preserve, protect and promote the nation's records; to provide the best possible inclusive and accessible archive that educates, informs and engages the people of Scotland and the world. NRS is a department of the Scottish Government, headed by the Registrar General and Keeper of the Records of Scotland. We hold historical records dating from the 12th to the 21st centuries that have been created by businesses, landed estates, families, churches, government, the courts and other corporate bodies. They include medieval charters, seals, wills, letters, diaries, business records, official reports, and records of crime, photographs, maps and plans. NRS advises other bodies on the care of archives, and maintain the National Register of Archives for Scotland, which keeps track of archives in private hands.

Recording the Present

At local registration offices you may register births, deaths, stillbirths, marriages and civil partnerships. NRS is also responsible for maintaining centrally a register of divorces, a register of adoptions and the National Health Service Central Register. We advise a wide range of public bodies on the care and management of the records they create. NRS also administers the Scottish Register of Tartans, which was established by act of the Scottish Parliament to promote and preserve information about registered tartans, to be a focal point for tartan research and to provide the tartan industry in Scotland with a platform to promote its expertise and the quality and value of its products.

Informing the Future

NRS is responsible for running Scotland's Census. NRS collects, analyses and publishes official demographic statistics, drawn from the Census and other sources, to inform government policy on everything from health to housing and education. NRS provides research facilities, both in Edinburgh and online, for identifying records from public bodies such as the Scottish Government, the courts and the Scottish Parliament which are of permanent historical value and ensuring that these are added to the nation's archives.

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