here are four patterns of tartan
that are authorized by MacCailein Mor, Chief of Clan
Campbell. Campbells and septs of Breadalbane, Cawdor and
Loudoun may wear their respective tartans, but all
members of Clan Campbell may wear the plain blue, green
and black Campbell sett, sold by the mills as "Ancient
Campbell," a lighter shade of Black Watch.
Dress Campbell" and "Campbell of
Argyll" are sold by the mills, but are not authorized by
the Campbell Chief. The Chief of a clan is the
final authority of what constitutes a clan
the mills and vendors choose to ignore this, and
continue to sell the unauthorized Campbell tartans. The
12th MacCailein Mor, father of our current clan Chief,
addressed this topic. He stated that he was
"quite happy" to have clan members wear these
non-authorized tartans if they had already purchased
them, but asked that people confine themselves to buying
authorized tartans in the future. Dress Campbell was a creation of
a Canadian who ordered a full bolt of the pattern. Mills
subsequently took the opportunity to market it. The
Campbell of Argyll pattern does have a Campbell
connection. The 6th Duke of Argyll was persuaded to wear
it as the tartan of the ducal family, unlike his
predecessors and successors, all of whom wore the plain
Campbell sett, which is identical to Black Watch, only
in a lighter shade.
Those of you who have purchased the unauthorized
tartans should bear in mind that clan tartans have only
been in existence since the early 1800s, and came about
as a result of a scam perpetrated by two brothers.
These brothers were known as the Sobieski Stuarts.
Rumored to be descendants
of "Bonnie Prince Charlie,"
they were never known to state it themselves, but let
some of their friends spread that rumor. This was
clearly false. Charles Edward Stuart's mother was a Sobieska, so where the name Sobieski arose can only be
conjectured. The brothers were feted throughout
They convinced many that they held an ancient
manuscript, the Vestiarium Scoticum, showing clan
tartans. While many questioned their claim, others were
taken in by the charade. This sham established clan
tartans, now a tradition after 150 years!
Prior to the establishment of clan tartans, clansmen
wore whatever tartan was generally available in their
area: a sprig of a plant worn in the bonnet announced
clan affiliation. In the case of Clan Campbell, Bog
Myrtle, and sometimes Fir Club Moss, was worn.
Whatever tartan you have, wear
it with pride!
Click to see the four authorized Campbell tartans