A MONTH-LONG celebration of all things tartan is to begin in Stirling on Saturday, marking 200 years since a ban on traditional Highland dress was lifted by King George IV.

Tartan Fest celebrations will kick off on August 6 with a two-day yarn festival at historic Bannockburn House, which was once used as Bonnie Prince Charlie’s battle HQ.

The magnificent 17th-century mansion was also home to master tartan weavers the Wilsons of Bannockburn – famed for the invention of the clan tartans.

Funds raised by the festival will go towards the restoration of Bannockburn House, which was bought by the local community in 2017.

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“August 2022 marks 200 years since King George IV visited Stirling and abolished legislation prohibiting the wearing of tartan,” said events manager Ross Caldwell.

“The Royal George Mill, built by the Wilsons in 1822, stands to this day next to Telford Bridge in the heart of Bannockburn.

“The Wilsons were once the foremost tartan producers in the country, so it seems only fitting that Stirling’s first Tartan Fest kicks off here at the home of tartan with BannockYarn.”

Coorie Creative, a local weaving and crafting charity formed to help people who are socially isolated or have experienced trauma or loss, are supporting BannockYarn with their expert knowledge of the yarn scene.

Director Mairi Breslin said: “Yarn is enjoying a renaissance, and we can’t wait to get more people hooked with our first annual yarn festival BannockYarn.

“We’re bringing together some of the biggest names in yarn making as well as new makers from across Scotland.

“The event will be held in a marquee within the beautiful grounds of Bannockburn House, and we’ll be running a series of taster workshops throughout the weekend.

“There’ll also be a chance to book a tour of Bannockburn House, which was once used as Bonnie Prince Charlie’s battle HQ.”

BannockYarn is part of a series of events throughout the month, many involving local schools and businesses, with everything from tartan scarf workshops to tartan lectures with V&A Dundee uncovering the fabric’s “chequered” history.

Professor Murray Pittock, who has been writing for the Sunday National about tartan, will be one of the speakers. On August 16, he will talk about how it became an “accidental global brand”.

“Tartan started as a local marker. It is now a global brand. No other textile can claim this,” he said.

The development of tartan as a global brand was due firstly to its association with the Jacobite cause as a symbol of Scottish patriotism and secondly to its use in the British Army. The presence of Scottish soldiers on the Continent in the Napoleonic Wars occurred at the same time as the peak influence of Scottish Romanticism on Europe while the use of tartan in the celebration of Scottish culture across the world spread beyond Scots and Scottish culture to the buying habits and uniforms of English schoolboys and First Nations warriors alike.

The National: Celebrations set to unravel tartan’s chequered history

On August 9, James Wylie, assistant curator at V&A Dundee, will delve into tartan’s relationship with subversion and its resonance within contemporary fashion as a badge of nonconformity, while kiltmaker Emma Wilkinson (above) will give a talk on August 22 about how the visit of George IV in 1822 was a turning point in the story of kilts and tartan.

“The full effect of this visit, its lead-up and its aftermath did something that had not been done before – it brought tartan to the world, it solidified Scotland’s important place in a United Kingdom and gave tartan a future, making it the most recognisable textile the world over,” she said.