UTTS #022 The "Declaration" Tartan: A National Tartan for Scotland?


One of the newest of Tartans to emerge on the Scottish marketplace is the "Declaration of Scottish Independence, Arbroath 1320" tartan, otherwise known simply as the "Declaration" tartan and it is selling like hotcakes on Facebook. Its colors are red and yellow, blue and white. It is meant to commemorate the 'Declaration of Arbroath' dated 6th April 1320, a letter from the Scottish earls and barons in support of King Robert the Bruce and his battle for Scottish independence. The tartan is designed to portray both the Royal Standard of Scotland, the yellow and red Lion Rampant, and the blue and white Scottish Saltire.

 Registered and made public in the run-up to Scotland’s independence referendum this striking tartan gained an immediate following concurrent with the surge of nationalism sweeping the country. It has only recently been brought to market in a variety of products by its designer, Steven Patrick Sim, aka The Tartan Artisan.


A resident of Arbroath, Sim is a relative newcomer to the art of tartan design. His career path began as a graphic designer creating product logos, company letterheads, brochures, annual reports, all manner of corporate branding. Then, inspired by his artist mother, he moved into painting, portraiture to be specific, and opened his own studio he continues to operate today.

About four years ago he began to explore tartan and its creative possibilities and has since designed eleven registered tartans. A few include: 

Red Lichtie Tartan: Arbroath’s official district tartan was adopted by the Royal Burgh of Arbroath Community Council, 5th Oct 2012. For all, far and near, who have associations with Arbroath. ‘Red Lichtie’ is Scottish north east coast dialect for ‘red light’. Residents of Arbroath, a fishing town on the Scottish north east coast, are affectionately known as ‘Red Lichties’, an ancient nickname that local Arbroathians, as well as those abroad, adopt with a sense of pride. Shrouded in folklore, with different stories being told through the ages of a red light that guided mariners into the harbor.

Scotland's Grace Tartan: This tartan was inspired by an unusually bright double rainbow which appeared over Arbroath on 9th May 2014. Designed to celebrate Scotland's skies the tartan pays tribute to the Scottish rains and sunlit rainbows. The sett reflects the seven colours of the spectrum and portrays Alexander's Dark Band, the optical phenomenon associated with rainbows and named after Alexander of Aphrodisias who first described it in 200 AD. The grey pivot represents the second bow. The blue, purple and grey pay tribute to the sky and to Scotland's stream, rivers and lochs. 

Earthrise Tartan: This tartan commemorates the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 8 ‘Earthrise’ photograph, taken from lunar orbit by astronaut William Anders on 24th December 1968, and was only made possible by a collaborative effort by all three Nasa crew members. The tartan celebrates the colour image which was declared by wilderness photographer Gallen Rowell as "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken". 

Sim's "Declaration" tartan has already been called by one tartan authority the most significant tartan he can recall. Bringing the tartan to market has been no easy task for Sim, who is an artist with little to no product or retailing knowledge. He has done so largely through his facebook page for the brand he is attempting to create to represent all of his tartans, The Tartan Artisan.

Sometimes what you don't know can't hurt you. In an unusual, but what some would call a shrewd marketing scheme, Sim is launching a variety of Declaration Tartan products - each in a certificated and numbered limited edition run of 1320 pieces - symbolizing the signing of the Declaration in the year 1320. This is believed to be the first time a tartan has been launched in association with limited, numbered editions. Of course, once the numbered items are sold production will continue but early fans of this new tartan are already snapping up the numbered items almost faster than Sim can deliver them. To see the many Declaration Tartan products available, simply see Sim's "The Tartan Artisan" Facebook page.

•The Tartan Artisan (Facebook Page)

•The Tartan Artisan (website)

•The Declaration Tartan (read the complete rationale here)

 •The Scottish Register of Tartans

•The Declaration of Arbroath

•Arbroath, Scotland

•The Bell Rock Lighthouse