Tartan Friday

From the comments on a previous post, we have this, from Michael Hare:

So what tartan do Episcopal clergy wear? Those of us who are of non-Highland connection would like to wear Clergy but the tartan makers refuse to make Clergy in kilt-weight.
Should we denounce them from the pulpit?!

Heavens, how should I know? How did I become the arbiter of clerical tartans? I’d suggest Michael that you direct the question to one of the many kilt emporia – they seem to be able to find family tartans for every American, Australian and Japanese who crosses their threshold. Surely they can rise to the challenge somehow.

This particular member of the Episcopal Clergy neither takes to the kilt nor wears trews. After all, is life not camp enough already?

I would direct this question to the Episcopal Bloggers of the North, but am struggling to think of whom they might be. Has the internet reached furth of Perth? It is odd really as every Tom, Dick and Agnes in the Diocese of Argyll has had a blog since the auld king sailed over the water, but bloggers from Aberdeen or Moray seem to be thin on the ground. Perhaps it is because of the new directive from the SNP “government” that all blogging from the far North has to be in the Gaelic and that from Aberdeen in the Doric.

Oh, how we struggle with questions of Scottish identity. I remember in the days when our sometime American mentor, Alice Mann was welcome in our company, she challenged the SEC about the Scottish/English question and told us we needed to get our heads in order and work out what we really thought about it. Hasn’t happened yet.

When I was sitting drinking tea in Edinburgh with Good Company on Wednesday afternoon, he innocently asked me, “So, how many of your bishops are Scots then?” He was thus subject to a diatribe about how the Welsh one was a Scot, the Scots one was English, the new one was a Scot and was certainly from Lincolnshire and the Irish one was, well, in Ireland. Before long, I was waxing lyrical about how Bonnie Prince Charlie’s mistress came from my own congregation, about the keeping of the memorial of Charles the Martyr and about the terror of the Penal Laws. After the first half an hour of this, Good Company smiled and said that he had never realised how complicated it all was. I stifled a cry of “And let me tell you what Glencoe was really about” and ordered another pot of tea.

English Breakfast, naturally.


  1. The former bishop of Argyll and The Isles (note the capital “T”) would have liked to have all his clergy wear kilts as he did. I distinctly recall at least one priest clad in the clergy tartan – a kilt, not trews – and very pretty he looked too.

  2. I was sufficiently intrigued to look up a link for your kiltless commenter:

    Kinloch Anderson in Leith does great kilts with wonderful ceremony.

    See this link

  3. GadgetVicar says

    I wear a Clergy tartan kilt for weddings and ceilidhs.

    How about a black kilt for you, Kelvin? You’d avoid the tartan controversy that way….

  4. kelvin says

    Well, I have to admit a certain secret penchant for the black kilt.

    They are so expensive though.

  5. Thank you for tidying that up, Kelvin – I was aware that it sprachled a bit, but there’s no ‘edit’ facility once the deed is done …

  6. What about the nationality of the Provost’s of the SEC Cathedrals?

  7. Michael says

    Actually I ended up with a kilt in MacPherson tartan. But then my father was a parson, so son of parson!

  8. Mark Strange says

    Fit like the noo, chavvin awa my bonnie laddies etc, the question of clergy tartan for those of us not as prettty as others!! The local Elgin kiltmaker can do a Clergy tartan anything! Even suitable for my great weight. I have just returned from a wedding and hung the heavy duty clergy kilt back in the wardrobe.

  9. Oh I knew that Clergy flavoured kilts would be possible. Thanks for joining in with this thread Mark. (Whatever you are saying).

    Seeing as I am the new Episcopal Arbiter of the Kilt, I’m going to give a gentle reminder: no Sgèanan Dubh to be worn by clergy – it just isn’t done. A Sgian Dudh is a weapon and weapons are not worn by the ordained.

    (In the same way, one won’t be knighted with a sword by the Queen when the time comes, the sword is omitted for clerics).

    Ooh, I might like this new role.

    Any more questions?


  10. Does anyone in Scotland wear the tartan for Episcopal Clergy (Samuel Seabury). http://www.tartansauthority.com/web/site/tartan_results.asp?txtTartan=episcopal

  11. Donald Smith says

    When I served as a priest in the SEC (Aberdeenshire) in the late 50’s and early 60’s I wore a ‘green’ clergy kilt (and used to travel around my parish on a bicycle!). I never had any problems then in getting the cloth woven. At that time there were several Pisky clergy who regularly wore the kilt. I’ve worn mine on a few occasions in Mauritius since coming here in 1965, and although the kilt is still in good condition, I seem to have acquired a few unwanted inches around the waist in the intervening years!

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