‘Tartan’, the generic name for chequered woven fabric, has been worn across the world since 3000 BC. But it wasn’t considered a special fabric, nor had it much meaning until its use escalated in Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries. Then, various Scottish clans adopted specific tartans as a ‘uniform’ when fighting against ‘the English redcoat army’ in the Jacobite rebellions. The rebellions were crushed, wearing tartan was banned in the Highlands, and the scene was set for the Highland Clearances. A wave of Scots were forced abroad, stripped of their land and farms – but they took their tartans with them. But running parallel with the Clearances came the Enlightenment, where Scottish brain power succeeded where the tartan armies couldn’t. Philosophy, engineering, medicine, banking and politics all raised the profile of Scotland, and with Queen Victoria came a new love of the Scottish Highlands. And tartan! The wearing of the tartan flourished, it was codified, it produced societies in the USA and the British Empire who loved to honour their Scottish roots through wearing tartan. There’s way more tartan worn outside of Scotland these days than ever is worn within it, but to wear it is a mark of belonging, of roots and connections.
It’s that belonging, a sense of family, shared cause, intent and interest that drove and drives the tartan kilts worn as uniform since the 1970s by the Lacrosse Scotland women’s teams. The kilts have been worn at all levels of competition and are an instant, known badge. See the tartan, know the team, respect how it plays, and learn the ethos behind Lacrosse Scotland fielding home-grown talent, going out to be tested out in the world. It’s these same values that recently inspired members of Lacrosse Scotland to come together during the COVID lockdown to form a working group to create a new dedicated Lacrosse Scotland tartan which will unite all the members, acknowledge our rich history and forge a legacy. We are here to celebrate that drive to give Lacrosse Scotland a new cohesive look – with a wee bit of ‘fear the tartan’ too!
How do you design a new tartan that looks great, is meaningful to the Lacrosse Scotland community and beyond, respecting the history both of lacrosse and the Scottish teams? Care and integrity were the foundation, with the whole Lacrosse Scotland community involved, and key officials contributing hugely to the history. The new tartan will have its first outing at the World Lacrosse Championship in Maryland late June and early July when the Scottish Women’s Team takes to the field to defend their fifth-ranking position. This beautiful new tartan weaves a story in its colours: Blue aligns with the predominate colour of Scotland’s saltire flag and indicates the national standing of the Scottish teams who wear it.
Purple represents the Haudenosaunee nation in North America who gave the world the game of lacrosse, with the purple deriving from their national flag. Lacrosse Scotland thanks the Haudenosaunee for their international ‘gift’ of the game, first to St Leonards Girls School in Scotland, and then across the world. We support your values, and thank you for them.
Leo Nolan, the Executive Director of the Haudenosaunee Nationals Lacrosse says, ‘it is a real honor to have the Haudenosaunee national color purple included in the Tartan of the Scottish National team. This symbolizes lacrosse as an important international connection of peace, friendship, and well being and the importance of building together the game of lacrosse.’
Green is for the Macleod tartan, worn by the Scottish women’s teams since 1970, and now
considered a heritage colour for Lacrosse Scotland. The choice of Macleod tartan is shrouded in
mystery, but rumoured have come about because the kit manufactures at the time only had only
this tartan in stock. Whatever the reason for the choice, the green of this tartan is well-known across the whole lacrosse community!
Jen Allison, a Lacrosse Scotland stalwart, who played for Scotland at the 2012 European
Championship and went onto support Scotland teams at a further five European/World
Championships says, ‘it is brilliant to see that the history of the women’s tartan is remembered and included in the Lacrosse Scotland Tartan going forward, linking the past to the future’.
Orange represents the Lacrosse Scotland Men’s national team, and their entry to the international community. The Scottish men’s team was founded in the aftermath of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing disaster. Syracuse University men’s college lacrosse team came to Scotland to commemorate 35 of their students lost in the plane crash. Finding no Scottish men’s lacrosse team to take on as a valedictory, a challenge was issued, met – and in 1990 Lacrosse Scotland men played in their first World Cup. Syracuse play in orange, hence the nod to their community from ours in our new tartan and a celebration of positivity.
Jovan Miller, Syracuse Class 2011 and two-time NCAA National Champion says, ‘as a Syracuse alumni and former lacrosse player it is an honour to be a part of something special and for Syracuse to be recognised. Hopefully our relationship will continue to grow for the years to come.’
And the white? The new tartan isn’t just a collection of colours linking the histories of Lacrosse Scotland. Much more, it signifies the past, present and future sport as a cohesive whole represented by Lacrosse Scotland. And so, the white represents the future as a blank canvas waiting for new
stories to be written on it. And what stories these will be!
Written by Sheena Macrae, edited by Heather Macrae