This film is part of Free

Cornish Kilt?

Cornishmen don’t wear plaid or do they? Michael Piper asks the locals in Launceston.

News 1961 2 mins

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Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Reporter Michael Piper takes to the streets of Launceston wearing plaid and raises a few eyebrows as he quizzes the public about whether Cornwall will adopt the Celtic fashion of the kilt. It is clearly a little draughty for some. Cornwall did register their own national tartan for the first time in 1963. The tartan was designed by Robert Morton Nance, nephew of poet and revisionist Cornish bard E E Morton Nance who helped revive the language and set up the Cornish Gorseth.

The Cornish language is now thought to be spoken by over 500 people and is recognised as a minority language under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. More Cornish tartans including a hunting one were registered in the 1980s with each colour or pattern having significance; the white cross background is taken from the banner of Saint Piran the patron saint of tin miners; the black and gold represents the kings of Dumnonia, early Celtic chiefs of the South West; red signifies the bill of the chough, bird and symbol of Cornwall; blue depicts the sea. If a Cornishman were to don plaid, one question would remain unanswered - what would be worn under the kilt?