Peter MacDonald, Hand Weaver


Chequered woollen cloth was developed in the Highlands of Scotland as long ago as the third century AD, and tartan came to be associated with the war-like reputation of the Highland clans during the years of Jacobite conflict of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, its recognisable colours and patterns providing wearers with a unique sense of pride in their communities. Following the last Jacobite Rising, Highland Dress was banned for 36 years, but in the years after the Act of Proscription was repealed in 1782 many patterns of clan tartan were established and named, and there was a spectacular tartan revival. Since then the cloth has remained as popular as ever, widely seen as symbolic of the traditions of Scotland.


Probably the last traditional hand-weaver of tartan in Scotland, Peter MacDonald is one of the foremost experts on its history and is passionate about keeping the tradition alive. He has created this new tartan design, a woollen plaid in dyes matched to the 1783 recipes of the eminent 18th-19th century weavers William Wilson & Son of Bannockburn, on a single-box flying shuttle hand loom. It uses a 2/2

twill weave, which is the strongest type of cloth construction, and measures 28” wide, generally the largest size traditionally woven by hand, and a width commonly used for a ‘shoulder plaid’; the cloth thrown over the shoulders rather than used as a kilt.


This new tartan design, a nine-by-three-feet woven plaid, was inspired by the view from Peter’s window. It is called ‘Benyhone’, from the Gaelic Beinn na h-eoin meaning ‘mountain of the birds’.

Tartan Details - British Airways

The information held within The Scottish Register of Tartans for the "British Airways" tartan is shown below. 

STA ref:3617

STWR ref:none

Designer:MacDonald, PeterTartan 

date:Not Specified

Registration date:This tartan was recorded prior to the launch of The Scottish Register of Tartans.



Registration notes:Designed by Peter MacDonald exclusively for British Airways who own the rights and control the pattern. This tartan was applied to the tailfins of various BA aircraft for a period.

The name of the Tartan and the mountain:

The Mountain that Peter MacDonald's workshop looked out on is just north of Comrie in Scotland.  The Mountain is a "Munro"; these are mountains in the Scottish Highlands over 3000ft, seen by mountaineers as a challenge to "bag", as many as possible.  There are 282 Munros; good luck with that if you wish to try and climb any, or all of them. "Ben Choinze" is a good Munro to start with, as it is a relatively easy walk up the mountain, on a good summer day.

"Benyhone" is also known as  "Ben Choinze" in many Munro lists and current maps, by Ordnace Survey, Google Maps and others.  Gaelic has also a number of names associated with the Mountain, Beinn na Coinnich, Beinn na h-eoin.

From observation the mountain is indeed mossy, and there are birds on the mountain, seen from a distance I saw some that may have been buzzards.

Our Tartan: History and Origins

We are privileged to have as our tartan a most splendid design with a famous history.

Commissioned by British Airways around 1997 as part of an "Ethnic Liveries" designs range, the designs were used for the British Airways fleet of planes to signify the worldwide nature of British Airways services.

Click to see a wikipedia article on all the liveries that were used on up to 338 planes from 1998 until 2001.

We are very grateful for the following article, part of the original submission to British Airways, that has been kindly contributed to the band by Peter MacDonald the designer of the tartan.

The photograph of the planes, below, have the tartan livery with Peter's signature.

Click to link to Peter's website   (

English Translations:     

English "Ben Choinze", Gaelic "Beinn na Coinnich"                                                             - meaning    - "Mossy Mountain".

English "Benyhone" (often found written as "Ben-y-Hone"), Gaelic "Beinn na h-eoin"   - meaning  "Mountain of The Birds".

("Benyhone" is an english approximation to the pronounciation of the gaelic name).

(The Band prefers to use the name "Benyhone").

Click below to play a short video of Jim Ballantyne wearing the kilt in British Airways tartan and playing The Barren Rocks of Aden on the rocky path leading up the Mountain (and seeing one of the natives, encroaching on the performance, off back up the mountain).

The location of the mountain:

View of the Mountain

Playing the bagpipe on the path north of Invergeldie.

British Airways Boeing 747-400 G-BNLI in Ethnic "Scotland" Livery

First Flight 4 April 1990, withdrawn from service 11 August 2014.

A Boeing 747 in the Tartan Livery

Our Kilt