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.
TO SCOTLAND GLENS