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The Scots Week-End
Scots Regiments and their Tartans


Our sodger buddies look'd braw, look'd braw

Lady Nairne

BESIDES the Scots Guards and the Scots Greys, Scotland contributes ten regiments of the line to the British Army, five of them in trews and five of them in the kilt. Although these regiments are under the British War Office with its headquarters in Whitehall, their idiosyncrasies have been preserved more faithfully than many Scots institutions, and much more than the idiosyncrasies of the majority of English regiments of the line. Thus in a time of khaki-ed standardisation, the Scots regiments have maintained their tartans, and jealously guard many peculiarities, of which very few Scotsmen know anything, although they can learn a great deal in the wonderful Scottish National Naval and Military Museum in Edinburgh Castle, which is under the curatorship of the learned Major Mackay Scobie.

As regards the tartans worn by the various corps, it would, in Major Mackay Scobie's words, be well to describe them as "now known". The Seaforths and the Highland Light Infantry wear the red-and-white striped tartan, the groundwork of which is the same as the Black Watch, which may be primarily associated with these corps and not with the "Clan Mackenzie". Indeed, it seems as if their patterns had become a clan one, and not the reverse. In any case, they are regimental setts, the tartan having been invented in 1794. The same is true of the tartans of the Gordons, the Argyll and Sutherlands, and the Camerons. The Gordon was first and foremost a regimental sett for the Fencibles of 1793, and later, for the ducal family. The Camerons have their own regimental pattern, now described as Cameron of Erracht.

Similarly, the Royal Scots Fusiliers wear the military pattern tartan, as also did all Lowland regiments at first when dressed in semi-Highland uniform in 1881, except the Scots Guards and the Scottish Rifles, both of whom opposed it.

Pipers of various corps wear the old "music" tartan - that is, Royal Stewart - but the Royal Scots Fusiliers wear Erskine, granted in 1928. The tendency, indeed, is to emphasise the early history of the Scots regiments, and especially their connection with the families which raised several of them.

The accompanying tables show at a glance the chief differences in the uniforms of the various regiments.

Old Nos. KILTED REGIMENTS TARTAN SPORRAN
42nd and 73rd

Black Watch
(1725)

Black Watch (29 piped pleats) White and 5 short black tassels
72nd and 78th

Seaforths (1778 and 1793)

Regimental or Mackenzie (32 box pleats and 2 side) White and 2 long black tassels
79th Camerons (1793) Regimental, or "Erracht Cameron". (25 box pleats for men: 28 side pleats for officers) Black and 2 long white tassels
75th and 92nd Gordons (1787 and 1794) Regimental or "Gordon" (29 to 31 side pleats) White and 2 long black tassels
91st and 93rd Argyll and Sutherlands (1794 and 1799-1800) Regimental (27 to 29 box pleats)

Black and 6 short white tassels

 

Old Nos. TREWED REGIMENTS TARTAN HEDGEAR FACINGS
1st Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) (1633) Hunting Stewart Kilmarnock Bearskin cap Blue
21st Royal Scots Fusiliers (1678) Military or Scots Fusiliers   Blue
26th and 90th Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (1688 and 1794) Douglas Chako Green
25th K.O. Scottish Borders (1689) Leslie Kilmarnock Blue
71st and 74th Highland Light Infantry Regimental or Machenzie Chako (diced) Buff
  Scots Guards Royal Stewart (Pipers only) Feather bonnet Blue

 


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