"It was in the emptiness caused by this drift that the sportsmen of the richer South discovered the possibilities of the wild Highlands as a place for sport. The chieftains and old owners drifted to Edinburgh and to London and found that they could not support their old state when transplanted to the far wealthier society of the South. They found many of the nobility and gentry of the South, led by the Royal Family, willing to rent or buy their vacant mountains, moors and rivers. Thus was established a new race of masters of the Northern Lands. One of these new Ladies of the Manor, as her grandson said, was worried because she had no right to a tartan. It was the long-established duty of the Chief to clothe his retainers. There were shepherds looking after the sheep that had gradually spread throughout the Highlands, and these shepherds wore the old traditional plaids of the Borders from which they had come. Those plaids were usually four yards long and were worn wrapped around the body. In the folds a lamb or a lassie could be sheltered. These plaids were most often a small black-and-white check. Our lady saw the shepherds, and to seperate her men from the sheepmen who were not part of her family, she thought of the device of putting a scarlet check on the shepherds' plaid. In this simple way young Miss Balfour started a movement that spread right across Scotland and finally produced the great and varied series of designs we now know as our District Checks."
-Our Scottish District Checks by E. S. Harrison