March 26, 2002 - Stirling Tartan - History & FAQ

Bloomington, Idaho, 26 Mar 2002 - Several of our Clan Stirling members have written to Rick and I privately regarding our current discussion regarding the tartan plaid selected in 1999.  We've encouraged all of you to participate with posts on the forum.  Some great questions have been asked too, so in attempt to answer more of your questions, I've compiled a few of them here.

What did the original patterns look like?

Originally there were four patterns.  The patterns, and the colors were all chosen very carefully by a noted historian for the Tartan Historical Society.  There were two green patterns and two red ones.  Here are samples of the four original patterns.  They are listed in the order they placed during the voting process.  The winner was a clear mandate, it received in excess of 70% of all votes cast.

The Winning Pattern -
The Winner - Pattern "A"

2nd Place - Pattern
2nd place - Pattern "D"

3rd Place - Pattern
3rd Place - Pattern "B"

Last Place - Pattern
Last Place - Pattern "C"

"What is Clan Stirling?  Are we a Family, a District? A Sept?

A clan is a gathered family - and the Stirling's certainly qualify.  Like the other "official" clans such as Ross, Colquhoun, etc, the Stirlings have a motto, a crest, and someone who is chief of the name according to the Lord Lyon.  What is ironic is the Stirling name is one of the OLDEST out there, yet does not currently have many of the options available like other families.

What about Districts?  I have heard we (the Stirlings) have a district tartan.  Isn't this enough?

What makes things confusing is the issue of Districts versus Families, Septs versus Clans and so on.  District tartans are associated with GEOGRAPHY, not FAMILY.  SO the Stirling District Tartan is for ANYONE that lives or associates with the STIRLING district.  A CAMPBELL living in Doune, or a ROSS living in Stirling can wear one.  Not knowing any better I currently have a Stirling District Tartan kilt, which I got married in 1996.

What about Septs?

After I got married I started looking for a family to associate with - and quickly saw the McGregor's claim STIRLING as a sept of their own line.  When I dug further I found many examples of McGregors that took on the surname Stirling to hide from the English after the name  Mac Gregor was banned.  Over the years I have searched many times, but have yet to find a single reference to a STIRLING, taking on the name McGregor.  So in this case the sept concept didn't work, at all, at least from a Stirling family point of view.

Next I went back to Scotland - and started digging into the history of tartans - visited historians, archives, and the Tartan Historical Society.  I found that there was a lot of hype sometimes about what is the "correct" tartan.  The history of tartan is too long to go into detail here, but how a plaid was chosen for a family has a TON of variations. 

Clan Stirling Online allowed this huge family that spans every single continent of the world (there are even Stirlings in Antarctica from time-to-time) to begin gathering.  Communicating.  Learning.  The more everyone saw and learned, the more Rick and I have been asked "Where is our tartan?"  With that in mind we contacted people in Scotland to see how a plaid could be selected.

So after all this a plaid was chosen in a new way by several thousand if us.  We have a weaver that is ready to weave it.  The patterns were designed with substantial effort and perspective to our history as Stirlings. 

Who are the Stirlings?

If you go to on the web site, Rick outlines some of the badges and crests.

Where Did The Stirlings Come From?

The interesting thing about all this - Thoraldus is not only the fountainhead for the Stirlings, but the Crawfords, Ruthvens, Stewarts, and more.  His posterity number in the MILLIONS.


What tartan you wear should be as much who and what you CHOOSE to associate with as your heritage. 

I have been a dues paying member of Clan Gregor in the past.  But I never felt like I belonged.  I had some FANTASTIC TIMES, but it just didn't FEEL right.  I have no one in my line with the name MacGregor.  The family values are different than Stirlings. 

As for the Stirling line - I have found MANY common threads about what it is to be a Stirling.  "GANG FORWARD"  means something to many of us.  It means something very deep and meaningful to me.  It VERY accurately describes a major part of ME.

When I went to Stirling, Scotland for the first time and walked the paths, went to LeCropt parish and saw the busts of my ancestors on the walls, I knew what the difference was.  It was a powerful and personal experience.  So personally I'll not buy another kilt until we have one of our own.  I am STIRLING by heritage. 

What do you think we should do?  We will end this discussion on April 6th, 2002.  This day is special - it's the official day to wear your plaid, International Tartan Day.  For now, I'll continue to wear the district, geographic tartan for Stirling and Bannockburn.  Perhaps soon we'll have more news.  Thanks for you input.

Michael L. Jex - mike at clanstirling dot org