Scottish Tartans Museum

Tartan for everyone, but why in North Carolina?

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This is a one-of-a-kind museum, not just for the United States, but perhaps for the world. Franklin is the home of the Scottish Tartans Museum. The museum is all about the wearing of the Tartans and what it means for Scots-Irish heritage.

The museum is unique. It catches your eye, and although the outside looks like a storefront more than a museum, when you wander in you are intrigued and curious — even if you are not a member of a clan.

Western North Carolina is a natural setting for a museum like this because so many people of Scots-Irish descent settled here. There are believed to be more people of Scottish descent in North Carolina than anywhere else in the United States … many in the western mountains. The museum was first opened in Highlands in 1988, and then moved to Franklin six years later.

The museum has more than 500 samples of tartans, some nearly 300 years old. It also can explain the differences between the clans and the history of what transpired in Scotland over the ages. Ancient weapons, including what looks like a knife that’s a couple of feet in length, let you know that in days gone by some fierce battles took place.

By the way, tartan is the name of the pattern of colored stripes woven into the material. We tend to call it plaid. That word comes from the Scottish word, plaide, which is the garment on which the tartan design appears.

And if you are of Scottish descent and don’t know how to find your clan, contact the Scottish Tartans Museum. Bringing people of Scottish descent back into the fold is also something they do.

At A Glance

86 E Main St
Franklin NC
10-5 Monday-Saturday; closed Sunday

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