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The tartan field was one among a number of that two specialists had introduced from the attic of the West Highland Museum in Fort William.

Little did they know, nonetheless, that one of many containers would include a bit of tartan from the marriage costume of none aside from the heroine of the 1745 Jacobite Rising, Flora MacDonald.

It was late Might, after the present short-term exhibition was arrange on the West Highland Museum, when museum volunteer Jo Watson – a postgraduate analysis pupil of historical past on the College of the Highlands and Islands who specializes within the tradition and clothes historical past of the Scottish Highlands and Islands – and her pal Nikki Laird FSA Scot, director of Kiltmakery in Edinburgh, made the invention of a lifetime.

Museum curator Vanessa Martin had introduced the few tartan containers from the warehouse in order that Jo and Nikki might look at them.

“We took out the primary few gadgets, together with a 1960s Inverness cloak within the Macdonald of Clanranald tartan and a few older Arisaids” [women’s plaids], and whereas Nikki examined it carefully, I took out the subsequent piece, which was a lot smaller than the rest within the field. I could not imagine my eyes once I noticed the label on the tartan sample, ”stated Jo.

What the ladies have been taking a look at was labeled a part of Flora MacDonald’s marriage ceremony costume tartan. Flora MacDonald, the Jacobite heroine who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape Scotland after the failed rebellion, married in 1750.

“I used to be very excited once I noticed the standard herringbone edging. It is a actually uncommon weaving method nowadays, and the one one who does it at present is Robin Elliott, ”stated Nikki, who has been on the forefront of conventional kilt making for over 20 years.

Watched by Nikki Laird, Robin Elliott examines the piece of the enduring tartan. Picture: Courtesy Joanne Watson and with the permission of the West Highland Museum.
NO F28 Flora Tartan 02

After her go to, Nikki contacted Robin, a tartan maker from Selkirk within the Scottish Borders, in regards to the tartan and requested if he wish to see it within the museum with the sobieski kilt to make reproductions of the gadgets.

The kilt as soon as belonged to one of many Sobieski Stuart brothers. They have been 19th century scammers – their actual names have been John Carter Allan and Charles Manning Allan – who managed to persuade many individuals in Scotland that they have been descended from Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Robin, Jo, Vanessa and Nikki all met on the museum on Saturday and have now made plans to recreate the gadgets subsequent 12 months to have a good time the museum’s 100th anniversary.

Jo did the primary analysis on Flora MacDonald’s tartan and marriage ceremony costume. A 1938 guide says the household believed Flora married in a black silk costume, however this was just lately turned down by Flora’s six-time granddaughter in Canada.

One other piece of this tartan is within the assortment of the Glencoe People Museum and was clearly minimize from the identical piece on the West Highland Museum.

With round 7,000 gadgets on show and on show on the Fort William Museum, Vanessa admitted that it was inconceivable for her to find each a type of gadgets – therefore the persevering with chance of such wonderful surprises.

“We regarded for Flora MacDonald-related gadgets in our assortment
via the museum’s assortment administration system. Each Jo and I are
presently doing scientific analysis on Flora MacDonald, ”she advised us.

‘This piece of material is in our database as’ taken from’
a costume worn by Flora MacDonald ‘. It was saved in our attic and
I and the present board members have been unaware of its existence.

‘It was solely after we opened the field that we found a handwritten label
that stated the tartan was a part of Flora’s marriage ceremony costume.

“We have now full documentation on file of how this piece of tartan got here to us, and we even know when the material was minimize and offered.”

The 2 items within the West Highland Museum and the Glencoe People Museum have been clearly as soon as related. The museum’s data point out that they have been final exhibited as one piece in 1938 and the bigger piece was minimize in 1942. The remainder of the tartan is owned by a personal collector in America.

The duplicate costume and kilt that Jo and Nikki will make will ultimately be auctioned off to boost much-needed cash for the museum, which has seen a major drop in customer numbers this 12 months.

Jo will probably be running a blog all the undertaking on her weblog, www.sassenachstitcher.com, and it will likely be an essential a part of her analysis at UHI.

Nikki will recreate the museum’s Sobieski kilt and weblog about her undertaking on The Kiltmakery’s weblog at www.scotclans.com/bletherskite

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