Tartan Saga Continues
Published circa 2009, by the Late Ian A. Munro
Clan Munro Association of Canada (1990 - 2013)
While I am not an expert on tartans, I have read numerous articles and listened to experts talk on the subject over the years. Within the Clan Munro, I have heard the late Chief, Captain Patrick Munro and his son, our current Chief, Hector Munro, comment on the Munro tartans. There is some information in Information Sheet No. 14 on
our website as well.
I offer you the following as a non-scientific opinion:
There are currently 4 "red" Munro tartans that have the approval of the Chief:
1. Modern Munro
This is the most common Munro tartan with a bright red background with blue, green and yellow stripes. The "modern" refers to the fact that chemical dyes are used on the yarn that makes up the tartan. This is the tartan used as "wallpaper" on the Scottish and Canadian CMA websites. Even with this tartan there are variations in the colour of the red. I personally wore this tartan for nine years in the full military highland dress worn by the Kemptville Legion Pipe Band from Ontario. It is my opinion, shared by others, that the modern red Munro tartan is a bit too "bright" for a man's kilt.
2. Ancient Munro
This Munro tartan has a more subdued colouring with an orange tinged red background and more subtle colours of blue, green and yellow stripes. The "Ancient" refers to a simulation of the old vegetable dyes used to dye the yarn even though the dyes used to make these colours are now chemical based. Our founder, the late "Bud" C.C. Munroe, wore a kilt made of the Ancient Munro tartan. This is the second most common Munro tartan seen.
3. Reproduction or Muted Munro
Between WWI and WWII some excavation was done on Culloden Moor where, in 1746, the last battle between Scottish and English Government soldiers was fought. During the excavation, some tartan material was found and the colours in the tartan pieces had been muted by the acidic soil. The
woolen mill weavers started reproducing various tartans based on the muted colours replacing the more modern ones. The result is tartans of a rich and subtle colour. In the Reproduction Munro, the background colour is maroon and the blues, greens and yellows are dulled. This tartan is rarely seen these days.
4. Munro "Foulis"
The first three Munro tartans have a similar sized sett, the sett being the thread count for the colours and lines in the tartan. For many years, the late Chief's family had a special Munro tartan woven for them by Lochcarron Mills, restricting its distribution to the Munro Family at Foulis Castle. The tartan had a more subdued background colour leaning towards the reddish maroon of the Reproduction Munro tartan and it also had a larger sett, increasing the distance between the lines and colours. The result is a very handsome tartan that was much sought after by clansfolk but not released for general distribution. Last year, Chief Hector Munro authorised Lochcarron Mills to supply the Munro Foulis tartan for general purchase.
An example of the Foulis Sett can be seen further below.
In recent years, a new tartan called the "Black Munro" has been making an appearance. The tartan consists of a black and red check with a white line through the black. Though this tartan is produced by Lochcarron Mills, it is not recognized by the Chief nor the Clan Munro Association as there is insufficient historical data to connect it to the Munro Clan.
The Munro's also wear the green and blue Black Watch tartan as its hunting tartan, having close family ties to the Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment.
You are to be commended for deciding to wear the kilt as it offers a very real and recognizable connection to your heritage. The Munro tartan is one of the most colourful tartans and I wear it with pride. Here is a link for some information on kilts from an accepted authority as well a link to Lochcarron Mills where you can view the different Munro tartans:
Ian Angus Munro
Clan Munro Association of Canada
From Alex Munro Cave:
The tartan saga continues... I have just received the first sample of the
new Foulis Sett from Lochcarron and it looks just right. I
took it up to Foulis for the council meeting and the general consensus
was approval. Both Hector and his mother like it and are keen to see it taken up widely (Kemptville
pipers take note!) and we shall be promoting it on the website.
Yours truly, Alex
THE FOULIS SETT:
is a sample of ‘The Foulis Sett’, the new Munro tartan based on a
sample the Chief’s mother had specially woven about 40 years ago.
At the left side of the photo is a sample of the Munro tartan
currently in general use.