The Burns check tartan is predominantly black, white and brown. The Burness surname originated in Kincardineshire, a former county in Scotland located on the east coast south of Aberdeen and north of Montrose. The surnames Burness, Burnes, Burns, Burn, Burnside, Burnhouse, etc. are generally considered to have similar origins from the word burn which is a small stream in Scotland and England. Since there are thousands of burns in Scotland and England, there are undoubtedly many unrelated families, each descended from an ancestor who lived beside a burn. However, in early records, the spelling Burness is found only in Kincardineshire.

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