Coming soon Event National Museum of Scotland

Study Afternoon: Tartan

4 Oct 2019

Auditorium, Level 1


Book now

Join our panel of speakers as they explore the connection between tartan and Scottish identity and tartan’s relationship with Scotland, romance and reality.


14:00–16:45 (doors open 13:30)


£10, £8 Members and Conc.*

*Over 60s, students with valid NUS or Young Scot card, unemployed with ID, disabled people. Carers of disabled people go free. 

Event ticket does not include exhibition entry

Booking information

Age 14+ 
Book in person at our museums, call 0300 123 6789 or book online. 

Study Afternoon Itinerary


Registration at the Auditorium, Level 1


Welcome and housekeeping 


Exploring Highland Revival Fashion at the National Museum of Scotland

Rosie Waine, William Grant Foundation Research Fellow, National Museums Scotland

This talk highlights the range of historic costume contained within the Highland dress and tartan fashion collection at National Museums Scotland. Worn during the era of the Highland Revival (c.1780-1830), these costumes date from a time when tartan was increasingly regarded as the garb of ‘Romantic’ Scotland. Drawing on new research undertaken for Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland, the project to survey and re-interpret objects from the Highland dress and tartan fashion collection is supported by the William Grant Foundation.


Tartan as a Jacobite Symbol

Peter MacDonald, Tartan Historian and
Head of Research at the Scottish Tartans Authority

Tartan has long been associated with Clans and Highland Dress. This talk explores how and why it become associated with the Jacobites, particularly during the ’45, how men and women used it differently and the impact that decision had on the history of Scotland’s iconic textile.


Tea, coffee and biscuits in Events Space


Tartan’s Translation

Jonathan Faiers, Professor of Fashion Thinking,
Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton

Simultaneously evocative of the past and established identities, as well as signifying change, rupture and opposition, tartan continues to inspire contemporary art and design. Acting as a ‘textile transporter’ transferring its unique ability to represent tradition and rebellion, uniformity and dissent, this presentation will explore some of the forms and spaces this most ‘wild and majestic’ textile occupies today.


Recreating the 18th century wedding dress of Isabella MacTavish Fraser

Rebecca Olds, Timesmith Dressmaking

Following the Wedding Gown in a Weekend public event in June to re-create this iconic tartan dress, Rebecca shares its surprising features of construction and invites the audience to consider what these techniques suggest about Highlanders’ interactions with emerg-ing consumerism elsewhere in Scotland, focusing on the cultural significance that tartan still had in Highland communities.


Panel discussion and audience Q&A


Final commentary, conclusion, and event close


Museum closes

Painting of the Laird of Grant's Piper, William Cumming by Richard Waitt, 1714.

Silk fabric in 'Dress Stewart' tartan, from the curtains in the drawing room of Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, c. 1850s

Ledgers of tartan samples formed by the Highland Society of London, c. 1820.

Kilt of red Royal Stewart tartan, part of a man's kilt outfit: British, c. 1903

Getting here

National Museum of Scotland
Chambers Street


Map and directions


We want everyone who comes to our museums to enjoy their time with us and make the most of their visit. 


  • The Auditorium is wheelchair accessible, and there is access to an accessible toilet.
  • There is level access to the Museum via the main doors to the Entrance Hall on Chambers Street and the Tower entrance at the corner of Chambers Street and George IV Bridge. 
  • Lifts are available to all floors.
  • Accessible toilets are available on most floors, as well as a Changing Places (U) toilet in the Entrance Hall on Level 0.
  • Guide dogs, hearing dogs and other recognised assistance dogs are admitted.

Find out more about our access information.

Generously supported by the William Grant Foundation

Explore more

Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland

Dramatic highland landscapes, heroic histories, tartan and bagpipes are among the defining images of Scotland for many people around the world today. This exhibition considers the origins of these ideas and explores how they were used to represent Scotland around the world.

Wild and Majestic events

Explore our diverse programme of events to accompany the Wild and Majestic exhibition.
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