The hundreds of Highland Scots who immigrated to the mountains of North Carolina in the 17th and 18th centuries brought with them many traditions from their homeland, including the tartans from which they made their traditional kilts. Today, visitors to the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin can see more than 500 tartans on display and learn the history of this distinctive fabric.
A tartan is a pattern of interlocking stripes woven into a fabric much like a blanket. By the 17th and 18th centuries, tartan clothing was considered to be characteristic of Highland dress. Although early in the history of Scottish tartans no “clan tartans” existed, certain colors or pattern motifs were more common in some areas than others, and over the centuries became associated with specific families.
In addition its displays of Tartans and Highland Dress, the Scottish Tartans Museum maintains a database of nearly 3,000 tartan designs from around the world listed in the Register of All Publicly Known Tartans. For a small fee, the museum will research family names and recommend a particular tartan to identify with that name.
Since 1988, the museum has served as a general Scottish heritage center for the region. Members of the museum staff of volunteer historians host guided tours, look up tartans, and answer general questions on Scottish history.
Hours of Operation
Open year-round, Monday – Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm.
Closed Sundays and major holidays.
To ensure that a tour guide is available, call ahead for a reservation.
Hours of operation and fees are subject to change. Contact directly for most current information.
The Museum is located on East Main Street in downtown Franklin.