Clan Gunn tartan
For a fascinating discussion of Clan Gunn tartan - and Clan Mackay, Clan MacWilliam and Clan Morrison tartans - and the district association with tartan which later evolved into a 'Clan' tartan see the Scottish Tartans Authority site http://www.tartansauthority.com/resources/archives/the-archives/scobie/territorial-tartans/ where is written -
It has long been widely (perhaps generally accepted) that distinctive tartan patterns were originally associated with districts rather than with specific clans or families.... The Gunn Clan Tartan was featured in the Cockburn Collection (1810-1820). The sett is essentially "Mackay", with a red stripe on the green instead of black.... There are different ways of postulating an explanation for just how these four clans came to have such similar tartans. There is our own basic contention that there was an old, traditional pattern (now known as "Mackay"), which was native to areas within the counties of Sutherland and Caithness. ... There seems no good reason to doubt that these four tartans, so evidently related, are variations on an old Sutherland/Caithness theme...
Now, the STA has an obvious position to uphold but the full article is worth reading. It's worth noting that the Clan Gunn tartan is 'new' in that no record exists for it before 1810-1820, the time when, for various reasons, 'Highlandism' became fashionable and a plethora of newly named tartans came into existence. (Named tartans can be considered as tourist-ware invented in the early 1800s although, since then, named tartans have gathered emotional appeal.)
For more on this issue see http://clangunn.weebly.com/on-scottish-clan-re-invention-in-the-18th-and-19th-centuries.html
And for the The Guardian's view (The Guardian being one of the great British newspapers) on the issue of tartans with the topic of -
I read that Scottish clan tartans are historically a fraud, that they are primarily inventions of the 19th Century weaving industry and assorted Romantics. Is this true?
with reader's answers, see http://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,,-195574,00.html answers include
In his book of essays: 'The Invention of Tradition' historian Eric Hobsbawm said that it was so.
Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012) was one of Britain's greatest historians, ever.