Letter: Tartans that defy English fashions

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The Independent Online
Sir: Marion Hume ('The gay Gordons, Toms, Harrys and Jean- Pauls', 7 December) states that the kilt was 'probably invented by an Englishman (Thomas Rawlinson)'. She adds that 'the Scots can thank the English for some of its popularity, too'. Her article was provocative and cynical, but quite misleading.

There is ample evidence of the making and wearing of clan and district tartans from Roman times up to 1746. After Culloden, however, London waged open war on Highland people and their culture. No small part of this brutal and vindictive oppression was the passing of Lord Hardwicke's Act, in 1747, designed to 'disarm and undress the savages'. The act was repealed in 1785, by which time the weavers had gone, pattern sticks lost or destroyed and thousands of Highlanders deported or executed.

Not surprisingly, when in 1822 George IV was being wined and dined in Edinburgh by Sir Walter Scott and other ambitious Lowlanders, tartan and men to wear it were scarce.

If Highlanders can cope with Englishmen, Royals and Lowlanders apeing the culture they tried so hard to destroy, we can cope with a temporary fashion fad from the gay community.

Yours faithfully,




8 December

(Photograph omitted)