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Scarlett Archives

During his later life, James D. Scarlett MBE, FSA(Scot) was regarded as the greatest living expert on the subject of tartan although he would be quick to disassociate himself from such an all-embracing accolade. He insisted that he was neither expert nor academic but a methodical researcher! Let his articles and published works speak for themselves.

The Scottish Tartans Authority was delighted to have Jamie Scarlett as a Lifetime Honorary Member and was honoured to establish the online Scarlett Archives to bring together in electronic form, many of his research papers and published and unpublished works.

Readers will soon notice that Jamie - in his unique literary style - was quick to debunk tartan humbug and it is a theme that he returns to in many works. Such a philosophy may not at times make a comfortable bedfellow for Scotland's vitally important tartan weaving industry but such a censorial overseer is very valuable in reminding us of our duty to Scotland's tartan heritage.

James Desmond Scarlett was born in London in 1920 and educated at various private schools. Jamie was already a member of the Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve (RAFVR) when war broke out in 1939 and in September of that year he joined the Royal Air Force where he served a technical capacity until February 1946, picking up various useful accomplishments on the way.

After demob, he trained as a quantity surveyor, preserving a degree of sanity by indulging in serious photography and learning to fly light aircraft. Jamie admits to some Scots ancestry but considers it to be pretty dilute by this time and explains that a latent interest in tartan was rekindled during a chance holiday encounter in Perthshire in 1963 which led to a long and fruitful collaboration with D. C. Stewart which ended only with Stewart's death in 1977.

Jamie gave up quantity surveying in 1976 to lead a quieter life in the wilds of Scotland with his late and much-loved wife Meta and their pets.
He now lives alone in his isolated 'croft' with his two cats and his two home-made looms and still finds time to pursue various lines of academic research, design new tartans and even write new books, his latest publication being The Origins and Development of Military Tartans.*

By the same Author:
Tartans of Scotland (1972)
The Tartan Spotter's Guide (1973)
Scotland's Clans and Tartans (1975)
The Tartans of the Scottish Clans (1975)
How to Weave Fine Cloth (1981)
The Tartan Weaver's Guide (1985)*
Tartan: The Highland Textile (1990)*
Understanding Tartan (1996)
The Highland People (1997)*
The Tartans of the Clan Chattan Confederation (2003)

Our banner picture above shows the late Jamie Scarlett's Highland croft. On the right is his weaving shed.





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Scottish Tartans Authority (Scottish limited company no. 162386), c/o J & H Mitchell, 51 Atholl Road, Pitlochry, PH16 5BU
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