A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Tartan Recovered From Scottish Bog Dated to 16th Century
Thursday, March 30, 2023
DUNDEE, SCOTLAND—According to a BBC News report, a scrap of fabric recovered from a peat bog some 40 years ago has been radiocarbon dated to between 1500 and 1655, making it the oldest known tartan found in Scotland. The fabric, thought to have been worn while working outside, is known as the Glen Afffric tartan for the bog in the Highlands where it was discovered. Examination with high-resolution digital microscopy detected the colors green, brown, and possibly red and yellow in the faded, striped fabric, which measures about 22 inches long by 17 inches wide. Chemical analysis of the dye confirmed the use of indigo or woad in the green. No artificial dyes were detected, indicating that it was produced before the 1750s. “Although Clan Chisholm controlled that area, we cannot attribute the tartan to them as we don’t know who owned it,” commented Peter MacDonald of the Scottish Tartans Authority. To read about recent archaeological research at southwestern Scotland's Caerlaverock Castle, go to "Storming the Castle."
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