Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Scottish Tartans Museum, Franklin, North Carolina

The Scottish Tartans Museum

Several years ago, I held a one-year teaching position in North Carolina. One of the last things I did before packing up and leaving, was to visit the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, North Carolina. Why is this museum in Franklin? Because of how many of people of Scots descent live in North Carolina and because Franklin is located between the Grandfather Mountain Games in Linville, NC and the Stone Mountain Highland Games outside Atlanta, GA.

I was worried the museum would be slightly cheesy and be all about how one can match up one's Scottish surname to a specific tartan. But I need not have worried; it was actually quite nice.

One the main floor is a shop where you can buy or hire Scottish kilts and gear. They also had trinkets and a really great selection of books. I think I paid their rent with my purchase. The actual museum was in the basement, which is a bit unfortunate as it does not do justice to their collection. They have samples of all sorts of tartans, including some which date back to the 18th century. I was very intrigued by the video they had playing on continuous loop discussing the history of tartan. One bit I remember from this video was that regional tartans probably existed simply because the same person wove the fabric.

The Museum website also has a education section with information on tartans, a history of the kilt, and an a FAQ page which answers several common questions about tartans.

So, if your travels happen to lead you to western North Carolina, be sure to visit the Scottish Tartans Museum. I think you'll be glad you did.

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