Real-cloth tartan notebooks launched by Waverley Books

Waverley Books of Glasgow is launching a new range of real-cloth tartan notebooks in collaboration with Kinloch Anderson Scotland, tailors and kiltmakers and specialists in Highland Dress.

Waverley Scotland Tartan Cloth Commonplace Notebooks

Waverley Scotland Tartan Cloth Commonplace Notebooks

The full range of 32 different tartans will be on display at the London Stationery Show, used initially on Waverley Tartan Commonplace Notebooks in pocket size, with another six larger format notebooks available from August.

Waverley’s aim is to supply a beautiful range of notebooks that people enjoy using, and hope that along the way people might also appreciate the authenticity of the tartans and to learn a little more about the cultural heritage of Scotland.  To this end each notebook contains a bookmark with key tartan facts.

The tartan notebooks came about after Waverley Books were asked by Edinburgh-based Kinloch Anderson to help produce a corporate history of their company which was published in 2013. Kinloch Anderson started as a tailor in the 1800s and has grown into a family company who are holders of Royal Warrants Of Appointment as Tailors and Kiltmakers to HM The Queen, HRH The Duke Of Edinburgh and HRH The Prince Of Wales.

Each notebook has stained edges and a ribbon, and elastic closure, to capture the colour of Scotland (it doesn’t always rain!) with a brief history of the relevant tartan, and a leaflet with an introduction on tartan by Deirdre Kinloch Anderson. The leaflet is translated into six languages: French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, and Mandarin.

For more information click here, and visit the stand at London Stationery Show – G117.



Tartan is a great cultural icon for Scotland and a national mark of identification recognised worldwide. It proclaims the geographical or spiritual roots of its family of descendants whether in Scotland or for over 50 million people worldwide. As Scottish culture has evolved, tartan has evolved alongside it. In Scotland, checked cloths have been excavated from burial sites dating back to 300 AD.

However, it was not until the late 17th or early 18th century that tartan was adopted by families, clans or districts, to which a particular pattern or “sett” gave a sense of belonging. The use of tartan flourished, particularly in the Highlands amongst groups of people united by locality, kinship and descent – known as the clans. The essential link was between the chief and the people of the clan – and the clan tartan came to be associated with the dominant family of that clan. At that time, other tartan setts were related to a particular geographical district irrespective of name which were spun, dyed, woven and fashioned locally – usually an area of around 50 square miles.


Early weavers relied upon local natural products and plants for their dyes so the locality of the weaver had a complete bearing on the colours of the tartan that were produced. On the west coast, Gipsywort would provide light green and seashore whelks gave purple. An inland weaver would use heather to make yellow, dark green and brown-orange and blueberry fruit would provide light and dark blues, purples and browns. Dulse, (a common shore seaweed, also used as food), and crotal (lichens that grow on rocks) were also used for browns. The bark of the alder tree and the dock root produced black. Dandelions provided magenta; wild cress, violet; whin, broom and knapweed gave greens; bracken and heather supplied a yellow; and white crotal was used for red.


Tartan cloth soon became a dress of tradition and of battle. However, after the Battle of Culloden, in 1746, tartan was banned in an attempt to suppress what was perceived as the rebellious nature of the Scots. An exemption allowed the kilt to be worn in the army, a tradition established by the Black watch regiment. The law was repealed in 1782.

It was a writer – Sir Walter Scott – who described rugged scenery and tartan-clad heroes fighting amongst the heather. Scott rekindled the fashion for wearing Highland dress and when King George IV visited Edinburgh in 1822 amid much pageantry orchestrated by Sir Walter Scott, there was a huge turn out in kilts and Highland dress. King George IV wore tartan too, and thus tartan was popularised.


Posted on 7th April 2016 by Vanessa Fortnam