The National Archives of Scotland maintains the official register of plaid patterns known as “tartan” and their associated clans or groups in The Scottish Register of Tartans. Their mission is both to preserve history as well as to register newly designed tartans. This registry was formed as the official one in 2008, merging two unofficial registries, the Scottish Tartans World Register and the Scottish Tartans Authority. There are many tartans that are designated not for a clan, as commonly thought, but also for organizations, areas of land, and even companies. In that last category are an assortment of tartans that have been registered for fictional characters. Click on the character’s name in bold to see the picture of the fabric at The Scottish Register of Tartans.
Brave‘s DunBroch clan. For this year’s animated film Brave, Disney/Pixar registered the royal family’s tartan, which uses “the ocean blue of the North Sea” and “deep scarlet [that] represents the family’s reverence for its own history and the blood shed during battles between the clans. Deep green shows a love for Scotland’s majestic highlands.” The navy blue represents the forging of the clans, and the grey “imbues a sense of respect for the inner soul of the strong Scottish people.”
K-9 from Doctor Who. This pre-1977 design’s notes state that K-9’s dog collar from the Tom Baker years (!977-1981) was sent to the Scottish Tartans Authority for identification, but they were unable to do so and call it “possibly a fashion tartan of the period.”
Rob Roy. This tartan was designed and woven specifically for the film.
Colonial Marines from Aliens. This tartan was designed for and is meant to be worn only by the members of United States Colonial Marines (USCM) and the United Kingdom Colonial Marines (UKCM), costuming/charity work groups built around the movie Aliens.
Brad Majors from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Not made specifically for the film, but registered in 2011, “Brad Majors” was an attempt to recreate the tartan in Brad’s bowtie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Talk about dedication to your cosplay!)
Scrooge McDuck. Long before Disney created the DunBroch clan, they created MacDuck. Uncle Scrooge wore “Ancient MacDuck.” Its registration notes that it may have been used by the US government to promote the sale of war bonds during World War II.
Wombles. The Wombles were a group of environmentally friendly characters in a UK children’s series of novels that began in 1968. They became a stop-motion animation from 1973-75 with a revival in the 90s and appearances in the US on Captain Kangaroo. They have not one, but four tartans in the registry.
Braveheart Warrior. This one is connected to but not made for the film it shares a name with. In 1993, designer Michael King created the Braveheart Warrior tartan for Ronnie Watt, an 8th Dan in martial arts representing Scotland whose ring title was Braveheart Warrior. After the success of the movie by the same name two years later, he created Dress and Hunting variations.
The Joker from Batman. Designer Andy Garringer recreated the plaid from Jack Nicholson’s pants in the 1989 Batman film and had it woven by House of Tartan in 2008.
Two bonus tartan notes
- While not made for a specific character, the Roslin Roseline Da Vinci tartan’s registration notes say that it was made to commemorate The Da Vinci Code and in particular Scotland and the Rosslyn Chapel’s role in it. It’s based on the Sinclair tartan and was made with an asymmetrical pattern using the Golden Mean for placement of the gold stripe.
- I’m sure at least a few of you reached the bottom of this list and asked, “What about Scotty?” James Doohan explains in The World of Star Trek how there came to be a kilted version of the Starfleet dress uniform in which you occasionally saw Montgomery Scott. But no fictional tartan was needed–they simply used one of the Scott tartans.