By Mia Wallace
June 13, 2016
We arrived in Scotland yesterday afternoon and already I can tell that this will be one of my favorite places so far. Along with the beautiful rolling green hills and the exquisitely archaic architecture throughout the city of Edinburgh, I am finding myself feeling a sense of patrimony…again. At first, finding out that Wallace is mainly a Scottish name was a bit of a bummer because I always thought I was basically full Irish. But now, arriving in Scotland, my attitude has done a complete 360.
Today we went to Kinloch Anderson, which is a very prestigious, traditional, and popular Scottish tartan and kilt making company. Not only do they create and supply the Royal Families kilts, they are one of the oldest family owned kilt tailoring company with six generations under their (kilt) belt. Listening to Deirdre Kinloch Anderson, part of the 5th generation, talk to us today about her families history and absolute pride they have for their business, it made me realize just how important heritage and tradition are in
Scotland. Her face truly lit up when she began to talk about how proud she was for supplying the best kilts in Scotland and having a company that truly prides themselves on quality and being a family owned business with an emphasis on heritage. There is such an emphasis on protecting traditional values and the unique Scottish heritage that comes with manufacturing kilts and tartans. She described kilts as the finest, best, and most traditional Scottish dress. Kilts are extremely respected, honored, and carefully crafted at Kinloch Anderson. I have never seen a company take such pride and honor in their product. But with 6 generations of craftsmanship at work with an emphasis on being family owned, I’m not too surprised.
But, my absolute favorite part of today started with learning about the history of tartans and their unique patterns. Tartans have been around since the 1400’s and possibly earlier. They were worn to represent your clan or family. Kinloch Anderson has over 7,000 unique tartans on record. Dierdre discussed how she took it upon herself a while back to make the Scottish Register of Tartans available to the public, which for a very long time wasn’t. So,
of course after finding out that Wallace is more of a Scottish name than Irish, I asked if Kinloch Anderson has a Wallace tartan. She was thrilled to show me some of the tartans that trace back to my ancestry. She had two in stock for me to look at but said that usually for each family or clan, there are many different types and variations. Not only did they go out of their way to find my family tartan but then her son found me a little swatch of the Wallace Modern Red tartan to give to me! She also looked up my name in a key that tells you where your clan or district lived. So, I found out that the Wallace clan was documented to live in Ayrshire and Renfrewshire during the 12th century. But what I think will stick with me the most from this entire experience is what I found when I googled Ayrshire. I went directly to images and I was so surprised to find more pictures of cows than anything else. So I can only assume that my ancestors were cow-loving people…which on a personal level, I concur.