Tartans: find your family or clan

The first thing to know is that whilst many people prefer to wear a plaid linked to their own family heritage, there is no law that you must wear a kilt only in your own tartan. Most people prefer a family tartan for reasons of tradition. But if you can’t find one you like, there are many alternatives.

To find your family tartans, just key your surname (without other words such as ‘tartan’) into the search box on any page, and matching tartan names will be quickly returned below that search box. Unless your name is fairly common, and spelled in the most orthodox way, the chances are that you may not find a tartan under the exact same name. Don’t worry! The spelling of names was only recently formalised, and names mutated as members migrated. So many spelling variations exist for the same family name. It’s still the same family by blood, so don’t get hung up on spelling.

Also, Scottish clans have a tradition of ‘Septs‘ which are other families by descent or alliance to whom a clan gave protection. If your family name appears as a Sept or* variant spelling* of one of the official clans, it conventionally entitles you to wear their tartan. Our tartan finder is designed to help you identify such associations, but it might do no harm to try keying in alternative spellings of your family names.

It is also common to choose a tartan derived not with your ‘current’ surname, but perhaps with your mother’s maiden name, or that of another forebear such as a grandparent. Or you might choose to select the tartan from a member of your partner’s lineage instead. We would encourage you to look widely, and choose a pattern that is not just historically ‘correct’ but also pleasing to you!

Categories Help Centre Tartan Finding & selecting
Tags tartans finding families clans