Sons Of Arthur

Tartan - The Family Cloth

There are two Clan Arthur (MacArthur) tartan setts or patterns. The most commonly known sett dates from around 1842, black and green background with a single yellow line. Thread count: 64 Black, 12 Green, 24 Black, 60 Green, 6 Yellow, 60 Green, 24 Black, 12 Green, 64 Black. This design originates from the tartan revival period and may in fact be a historical copy error.

MacArthur 1842 Tartan
MacArthur 1842 Tartan (No.1100)

MacArthur 1815 Tartan
MacArthur 1815 Tartan (No.959)

During recent research of his own family line, the late Chief of Clan Arthur, James Ewdard Moir MacArthur of that Ilk, rediscovered the Clan Arthur old sett from a family portrait dating from before 1815. This more ancient design shows a black and green background with a double yellow line. Thread count: 30 Black, 4 Green, 8 Black, 36 Green, 4 Yellow, 36 Green, 4 Yellow, 36 Green 8 Black, 4 Green, 30 Black. Further research has authenticated James’ discovery and today both MacArthur setts are recognised as the official cloths of the Clan.

 It should be noted that the MacArthur of Milton Hunting tartan is the personal tartan of the Chief of Clan Arthur and his family, and should be worn by no other. Whereas the MacArthur - Fox tartan has nothing what so ever to do with Clan Arthur. This recent invention is by someone who designed their own cloth and just happened to like the name MacArthur.

MacArthur of Milton Hunting Tartan
MacArthur of Milton Hunting Tartan (No.700)

As with most Clan tartans, there are two Clan Arthur colour schemes. Modern colours are derived from synthetic dyes and generally give darker more formal colours, whereas ancient colours are derived from natural dyes and result in a lighter more muted effect, which could also be regarded as being more authentic. Colours can also vary from weaver to weaver. Lochcarron's Clan Arthur tartan in ancient colours is a very pale, almost gray green, whereas Dagliesh's version of the same cloth uses a much brighter, almost grass green thread. Both mills’ modern Clan Arthur colours are near equally dark.
Traditionally tartan cloth was woven on a handloom up to 28” wide. Two 16 feet lengths were joined to make a feile-mhor or traditional plaid, with eight yards being required for a feile-beag or modern kilt. Now modern weaving looms produce double width cloth 56” wide, and four yards, split and joined, is equal to one kilt. There is usually little difference between the cost of single and double width material, therefore double width is more economical. The material is also supplied in different weights. 15/16oz is heavyweight and the normal choice for kilting, whereas 12/13oz is medium weight and usually reserved for skirts, etc. but also favoured for kilting in warmer climates. Again, there is little difference in cost for either weight of these cloths.
A much lighter "tie weight" material is manufactured by Inglis Buchan. This is currently produced in 1850 sett, with the 1815 sett becoming available soon. Ancient colours are similar to Lochcarron. Lighter weight tartans use a thinner thread resulting in a smaller sett or pattern, making this material ideal for smaller garments.

Clan Arthur 1850 (single line) sett is normally available from the weavers' stock in medium and heavy weights, ancient and modern colours, usually in double width. Clan Arthur 1815 (double line) sett is only available to order. Both Clan Arthur setts and colours are also available in silk, but this material is very expensive. All these materials and some garments (ties, sashes, scarves, blankets, etc) are available from House of Arthur, delivery can vary dependant on choice of cloth. To obtain a quotation, please supply the following information:
Sett: 1815 or 1850
Colours: Ancient or Modern
Weight: Medium or Heavy
Width: Single or Double
Yardage: Number Required
Delivery: Date Required
P&P: Postal Address

Please send your enquiry to:
House of Arthur · PO Box 1427 · Glasgow · G12 OUY · Scotland
Or email your enquiry to:

3,000 Year Old Tartan

Until recently, historians have promoted the concept that the Scottish tartan plaid developed over the last few hundred years. However, recently several 3,000 – 4,000 year old mummies were discovered buried in the deserts of Northern China and Southern Mongolia. These Caucasian people were up to six feet tall, had red hair and, in some instances, wore plaid (or tartan) woven from European wool! This certainly suggests that our National Dress has a much deeper reaching history than anyone could believe up till now.

Copyright Hugh McArthur 2004


Grimble, Ian
Scottish Clans & Tartans
ISBN 0785815082
Words from The Chief
The Tartans of Clan Arthur


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