Cornish Kilts and Tartans

The earliest historical reference to the Cornish kilt is is from 1903 when the Cornish delegate to the Celtic Congress, convening at Caernarvon, L Duncome Jewell appeared in a in a wode blue kilt. John T. Koch in his work Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia mentions a black kilt worn by the Duke of Cornwall’s light infantry in combat., this may be similar to the saffron kilt worn by Irish regiments – as a result of the higland dress craze of the early 19th century.

First creasted in 1963, the Cornish National tartan was designed by the poet and Cornish Bard E.E. Morton Nance. Each colour of tartan has a special significance or meaning. The White Cross on a black background is from the Cornish flag , the Patron Saint of tinners; Black and gold were the colours of the ancient Cornish Kings red for legs and beak of the national bird, the chough, and blue for the blue of the sea surrounding Cornwall. . A prototype of the Cornish national tartan was first worn by Morton-Nance in the 1963 Celtic held at Carbis bay attached to a Clan Douglas kilt that he was wearing for the occasion. The Cornish Hunting Tartan was registered in the 1980’s

The following Cornish tartans have been registered or have been previously registered. Some of theses are Cornish family tartans which are worn at family get togethers and weddings.

Cornish National Tartan (registry #1567)
Cornish Hunting Tartan (registry #1568)
St Piran Cornish Flag Tartan (registry #1618)
St Piran Cornish Dress Tartan (registry #1685)
Cornish National Day (registry #1262)
Christopher family Tartan (registry #2809)
Rosevear Tartan (registry #2541)
Curnow of Kernow Tartan (registry #4084)
Jewell of Kernow (#7478)
Cornish Countryside (registry #10240)


Cornish National Tartan


St Piran Flag Tartan


St Piran Dress Tartan


Jewell Family Tartan


Pengelly Family Tartan


Cornish National Day Tartan


Cornish Hunting Tartan


Christopher Family Tartan




Curnow of Kernow Tartan


Rosevear Family Tartan

8 thoughts on “Cornish Kilts and Tartans

  1. Are you able to show the Hawke and Stephens tartans please ?
    I’d appreciate feedback.


  2. I am from CA. I have an ancestor which has variations of the surname Cornett. They are Cornutt, Curnutt and Cornet; and there may be more. I have been told by an expert genealogist that these surnames are Cornish in origin. If so do they have a family tartan? Please contact me about this.


    Jon Jennings

  3. Another Cornish tartan is a houndstooth check of brown and black.
    My mother (who was the Hawke family genealogist in the USA) was able to travel to Cornwall several times to work on filling in gaps in the family tree. She was also a spinning & natural dyes teacher and a weaver and upon her return from one of her trips to Cornwall she happily told me she had been able to find an old Cornish tartan. She described it as a houndstooth check and the colors were black and a medium brown (colors that can be obtained from walnut hulls with the black made by mordanting with iron or using black wool). Unfortunately she did not say where she came across this information and I being only in high school didn’t think to ask. (I really thought I’d hear of it later from Cornish societies.)

  4. There is surely a nonsense about all this: as if identity is to be demonstrated by duplication. A duplication, in this particular, of an invention of Sir Walter Scott who created the Scottish ‘tartan’ and it’s named associations. Iolo Morgannwg in Wales equally invented Druidic bards with eisteddfodau in near contemporary times. So the Cornish have a tartan or two and a gorsedd. I find it demeaning to the Celtic cultures and a belittling of the true inheritance (albeit much integrated with its domineering English neighbour).

    1. While I appreciate your opinion the website is intended for information and not endorsement. It is also clear in the article that the origins of these items is modern. We represent facts for public information with the view to inviting visitors to the site to make their own mind up.

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