Tartan's Egyptian Connections
Legend has it that over 3,600 years ago an Egyptian army sailed to a land north of Ireland and named it Scotland after their princess, Scota.
Does this mean that the kilt’s origins are embedded in ancient Egyptian dress? Quite possibly.
The origination of the kilt has had historians stumped. Some speculate that an Englishman introduced the Celtic kilt; some say it stems from the Irish; others suggest its roots are planted all the way back in Egypt. And there is evidence to support this last theory.
In the early 1440s a work called the ‘Scotichronicon’ records Walter Bower writing of proof that the Scots were of Greek and Egyptian descent; not only that, but the country’s name derived from the Egyptian Princess Scota.
Apparently, Scota sailed from Egypt to Ireland with her sons and an army, intent on avenging the death of her husband who had been killed at the hands of the Irish. She died on Irish soil and is said to be entombed in Gleann Scoithin, Kerry (now Foley’s Glen). Some time later a group from Ireland called Scotis sailed north, settling in what became known as Scotland.
The discovery of two Egyptian sailing ships in a Yorkshire Estuary, dating to around 1400 BC supports this theory, as do other archaeological findings in Scotland, including Egyptian faience beads dating from the same period.
The early kilt
It is probable then, that the Egyptian soldiers swapped their linen kilts and belts for a warmer woollen weave. What’s more, when they sailed from Ireland to Scotland they took with them many native Irish words, including tarsna, meaning crosswise which later became ‘tartan’. No under-garments were worn.
Mr Al Fayed and Scotland
Mohamed Al Fayed has long been fascinated with Scotland. “When I was a boy my teacher taught me that the Egyptians discovered Scotland. From that point forward, the myths and legends of Scotland had me hooked,” he explains. And so he remains. Now the proud owner of Balnagown, a once run-down Highland estate, Mr Al Fayed has lovingly restored with £20 million of investment, and has his own tartan created. You can see Mohamed dressed in his kilt in the gift shop at Scottish tourist attraction Falls of Shin which he also owns.