(Submitted by Elizabeth Brownell)

                             SUMMER WEIGHT                                       WINTER WEIGHT


"The Glen Urquhart is one of the smallest outstanding designs which has influenced fashion houses all over the world. It was adopted by Caroline, Countess of Seafield for her estates about 1840.  The story has it that the design was created by Elizabeth McDougall  of Lewiston and is a combination of a portion of the Shepherd and  another pattern woven two of black and two of white approximately two inches of each.  The designer had great difficulty in getting William Fraser the weaver to understand her instructions , and she sketched the pattern  in the mud on the cottage door.  The design was originally dark blue and white,  but was later changed to the black and white that we see today.   Interestingly enough in the day book of Johnston's for 1851  there is an Invoice for a web of Glen Urquhart, for McDougall's of Inverness and in the same month a web  of Coigach and a web of Glenmoriston, for the same customer.  Glenmoriston is the next glen to the west of Glen Urquhart and was also  part of the Seafield Estates.   This Invoice suggests that the original pattern may  have been created in the early 1840's for Glen Urquhart  and was originally woven commerically at the mill at Drumnadrochit  and from there the manufacture moved to Inverness.

It is not unreasonable to assume that it might have taken  ten years to get from  William Fraser's narrow loom in the west to the more  sophisticated broad looms of Johnston's .  The Drumnadrochit mill closed down in the early 1950's  and was then used as a house.  The mill was one of the first attempts to introduce industry to the Highlands after the ''45 and was built by the Laird of Grant at the same time as the Honourable Commissioners for the Annexed Estates built the mill at Invermoriston close by .  The list of the women to whom the King's Commissioners  distributed spinning wheels to supply yarn to the mills  can be found in the archives in Castle Grant.

The annexed Estates built the mill at Invermoriston close by .  As the crow flies Glenmoriston is five miles north west of Fort Augustus .  The Glen starts at Invermoriston on Loch Ness  and the estate belonged to the Grant Family for nearly 600 years.

In the late 1980's part of the Estate was sold off  and fragmented but a portion of the house was retained by the Grants.  The tweed is one of the oldest estate tweeds  and it first  appears in the Johnston's sales books on the 22nd July  1851.  It may have  been adopted by Caroline Countess of Seafield as her Estate of Glen Urquhart lies immediately to the east.  The design is extensively adopted by the tweed trade in the late 19th century.  It was found to be too bright  for use on the hill and it was replaced in the 20th century by stock tweeds by Campbells of Beauly .  "

Scottish  Estate Tweeds by Johnston's of Elgin, published first  in 1995 by
Johnston's of Elgin,  New Mill,  Elgin, Morayshire,  IV30 2AF.