COSCA Council of Scottish Clans and Associations



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   Now That You Found Your Scottish Clan





Once you've found your clan or Scottish District Family, check our Members page to see if that group is listed. If so, there will probably be a link to their website. Feel free to contact them directly and get to know them. If your clan isn’t on our membership list, do a web search. You may find one or more of your clan organizations listed.


If you have multiple clan options, it can be confusing about which group to join. In reality, it doesn’t matter if it’s a name from your father’s side or your mother’s side. Technically, you can join as many as you’d like. If one of your family names belongs to a Scottish District Family, please read our post on this topic. It has more detailed information and some helpful links to get you connected.


Joining more than one clan can be helpful since not all groups are represented at every event. We recommend that you check out all of your potential organizations - online and when possible, in person. See which ones are the most active in your area, the most responsive, and the most welcoming. Until you’re able to clarify exactly where your family originated in Scotland, this is the best way to choose.


For those of you who grew up being told you are "Scotch-Irish” or "Scots-Irish", read this link for some interesting background information from Dr. Phillip Smith, a respected Scottish scholar and COSCA Board member. Also, check out, The Ulster Scots  and The Ulster Scots Society of America.


A Word About Genealogy: When you join a clan, most encourage you to submit your genealogy to the group database. Occasionally, matches will be found; particularly in larger clans with sizable files; however, it isn’t the clan genealogist’s job to research your particular family tree. You will need to do this on your own.  There are many excellent online resources for genealogy and many qualified genealogists out there so, happy hunting!





When it comes to selecting the correct tartan, the choice is really up to you. There are a few tartans that are considered “off limits”; such as trademarked or copyrighted tartans, tartans that have been developed for an individual or organization, or those reserved for members of the Royal Family. Other than that, it’s preferable to select your tartan based on your surname first, your paternal family surnames second, or your maternal or marital surnames third. Your district tartan is also a correct option.


The definitive reference book on tartans is “Tartan For Me” by Phillip D. Smith. Many clans and vendors have copies of this book at the games and we always have them at our COSCA tents; however, it’s very important that you understand how to use this book or you can walk away with inaccurate assumptions. Dr. Smith specifically states in the introduction: “In no way should the Name-Tartan list in “Tartan For Me!” be regarded as a list of clan or family names. That is quite a different matter.”  What this book does provide is extensive information about your suggested tartan(s). It can also tell you whether or not a surname is connected to one of the Scottish District Families. It’s a phenomenal resource and we highly recommend it.


You can also search for pictures of your tartan at:

The Scottish Register of Tartans or The Scottish Tartans Authority


When you select tartan based on your surname, family surname, or district, it will always be the correct choice for you and will have many uses at highland games or social occasions. There are plenty of reputable places to purchase tartan fabric on the web and many vendors can also provide Scottish District, Irish, and Welsh tartan.


Remember that anyone can wear tartan - both Scots and non-Scots. For non-Scots, the Caledonia, Hunting Stewart or Black Watch tartans are always appropriate choices. And finally, make sure to follow the tartan golden rule: only wear one pattern at a time regardless of how many clans you're connected to.


Any time is a good time to buy a kilt but until you’re ready to make that investment, consider purchasing such items as neckties, tams, polo shirts, sashes, pins, etc. with your clan badge or tartan. Most people wear these in a variety of ways and you'll find many uses for them. A simple tartan sash with a clan badge or celtic pin for women and a tartan necktie for men are always great starting points and will carry you through many situations until you can purchase additional items. There are always a number of excellent vendors who sell these items at the games and just as many who sell them online but here are a few you may find helpful:

Highland Embroidery

Clansman Knitwear

Scottish Lion

We also recommend that both men and women get a copy of  "So You're Going To Wear The Kilt"  by J. Charles Thompson. This is the definitive reference for proper Scottish attire and will keep you from making many social and stylistic errors connected with Scottish clothing. This information can be essential if you choose to dress in a more traditional manner or attend formal Scottish events. Reading it will help you know the rules and avoid fashion faux pas.





You may already be involved with highland games in your area, but in case you're new to them, please check out this Games FAQ link for additional information. It’s for people just getting started with highland games and will provide you with some helpful information.






First thing to do.....



Great! Next....


Check the “Links” page of the COSCA website. There are a lot of helpful websites listed to get you started on your Scottish journey.


Follow COSCA on Twitter. We try to post with some regularity and our posts…. along with the posts of our followers…have up-to-date information on things of a Scottish nature.


Join our Facebook group- COSCA: Council of Scottish Clans & Associations. It's a good place to see what's going on across the country with other folks interested in their Scottish clan connections.


Sign up for Panalba. Panalba is a social networking site set up for people who are interested in Scotland, Scottish Clans, and anything related. The site is run by the folks in Scotland who put The Gathering 2009 together so you know it’s gonna have really good stuff.



Hope all of this helps you get started. If you have any questions, please contact COSCA directly at



Enjoy being Scottish!