Whisky. Golf. A wealth of castles. Tartan plaid.
Scotland is a land unlike any other. Rich in history, Scotland holds a tradition of influence in culture thoughout the United Kingdom and beyond. With some of the last untouched wilderness in all of Europe, it truly is "the best small country in the world."
Major cities include:
Scotland has history of inhabitants that dates back more than 10,000 years. The earliest settlements, near Edinburgh, have been dated to around 8,500 BCE. Artifacts have been recovered detailing life over the following millennia, making use of bone and stone tools for agriculture, hunting and fishing. The earliest written records discovered date to the Roman occupation of England and Wales, when Rome controlled the island as far north as the Antonine Wall, the third of three walls dividing the island, built around the middle of the second century of the common era.
By the third millennium BC, permanent settlements had been established, and by the middle of the second millennium BC, the language now known as Gaelic was developed.
Early in the first century, The Roman Empire came to Great Britain. By the middle of that century, when the city of Londinium was founded, several stone walls had been built to separate Roman occupied England from the northern territories. The northern most wall, known as the Antonine Wall separated England from ďCaledoniaĒ so called by the Roman Empire. The name is likely derived from a common word used by the dominant tribes living north of Roman occupation. The Picts, as they were known, would dominate the land until the 10th century.
By the end of the first century, Rome had entered Caledonia. After several years of brutal fighting, Rome claimed victory, but the war would rage for another 100 years. By 180 AD, Caledonia had taken Hadrianís Wall. In time, the Roman Empire withdrew, feeling that the cost of campaigns far outweighed the financial benefits of conquering Caledonia.
During the war, the Antonine Wall was abandoned and largely destroyed, then rebuilt and reoccupied. In the summer of 2008, the Antonine Wall will become a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Christianity was introduced to Scotland by the fourth century. The faith was not well received by the Picts, but by the middle of the 500s had begin to replace the older Celtic traditions.
Around 600 AD, the area now covered by the Scottish capital of Edinburgh came to be known as Edin-burh. By the end of the century, the city of Glasgow was founded, by Christian missionary Saint Mungo.
By the early 800s, Norse invaders began arriving, slaughtering and pillaging the land. Pictish rule began to crumble, as many prominent residents were killed. The Vikings captured and killed the King, and Pict rule was soon brought to an end, paving the way for the future of Scotland. Norse explorers eventually came to settle the archipelago of Hebrides, off the north west coast, but the island would remain at war until the 12th century.
By the middle of the 9th century, the Pictish kingdom came under the rule of Kenneth MacAlpin, founder of the Kingdom of Alba. According to legends, MacAlpin became the first King of Scotland upon the defeat of the Picts, while others claim he himself was a Pict. While the exact details are obscure, and largely debatable, the legacy of change is irrefutable. Scotland adopted Gaelic, settlements were expanded, and peace reigned.
By the end of the century, Scotland was expanding, claiming territory further south through deals with the English King. Scotland also took control of a fortress in Edin-burh. By the middle of the 11th century, Scotland was enjoying a hard earned peace. Within a few years, however, under the rule of King Malcolm III, Scotland began taking advantage of an England weakened by centuries of war, and invaded. Malcolm III was defeated in 1080 by the armies of King William the Conqueror.
Over the next century, Scotland relied heavily on England, attempting to foster a positive relationship. Resentment towards English influence, however, began to rise. By the end of the 12th century, Scots had begun to turn on English residents, but met resistance from Scots loyal to the British Crown. Many Scots joined the war, hoping to claim the throne. The fight would last for the better part of a century.
King Edward I of England was forced to intervene, and placed John Balliol on the throne. The influence of England further deepened the rift with Scotland, leading to the Wars of Scottish Independence, between 1296 and 1357.
In the early years of the war, Scottish folk hero Sir William Wallace rose to lead several campaigns against England, notably The Battle of Stirling Bridge, in which 13,000 British soldiers were defeated. Due to his success and fame, Wallace became an important target, and was captured in 1305. During his trial for treason at Westminster Hall in London, Sir William Wallace famously claimed "I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject." Wallace was hanged, drawn and quartered, and his head displayed on London Bridge.
The war came to an end in 1357, when Scotlandís infant King David II was captured. The Treaty of Berwick was signed, granting King Davidís release for a ransom of 100,000 merks (Scottish currency). King David only made two payments, and England raised the debt to 100,000 British Pounds. The Scottish King then made arrangements that should he not raise an heir, the throne would pass to England.
Scots rebelled and several treaties were signed granting the country increasing sovereignty. King Davidís rule was followed by the enthronement of his nephew, King Robert II, founding the Stewart dynasty.
In 1413, the University of Saint Andrews was established in the town of Fife, as the first in the country. It is now one of the oldest in the English speaking world.
In 1456, the first recorded round of golf was played at Bruntsfield Links, in Edinburgh. The game has since become one of the most popular in the world.
Continued strife with England, however, led to the capture of future king James I in the early 15th century. James was held prisoner until the age of 32, when he officially took the throne. King James I took an English bride ad began to reform the government, often at the cost of the life of anyone who opposed him.
The University of Glasgow was founded in 1450.
In 1468, Scotland took control of the Orkney and Shetland Islands off the northern coast.
In the early 16th century, King James IV married Margaret Tudor, daughter of Englandís King Henry VII. When King Henry decided to invade France, however, King James sided with France and invaded England. The invasion cost King James his life.
His successor, King James V would invade England, again with disastrous results. James Vís successor, Mary I, became the intended bride of the French heir, but Henry Vii pushed for a marriage between Mary I and his son Edward. British forces took control of Edinburgh, and Mary lost influence of her people. She would flee to England, where she would be beheaded by Henry VIIIís heir Elizabeth I.
During the remaining years of the 16th century, Scotland experienced a protestant revolution. King James VI was raised in the faith, and the country was largely restructured. Following the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, James VI took control of the English throne, becoming James I of England. Upon his death in 1625, his son Charles took the throne, becoming King Charles I.
Charles I assumed more control, reducing the role of the church, and continually clashed with Parliament. Conflict led to the civil war, and Scotland was divided. In 1647, Charles I surrendered to a Scottish force fighting in England, who delivered him to English forces. Charles I became the first King to face trial. He was executed in 1649. He would be succeeded by his son Charles II, crowned King of Scots in 1651.
Over the next few decades, Scotland saw political reform and conflict between religious and royal interests. Severe famine led to increasing economic strife, and England enforced restrictions on Scottish trade. Some Scots chose to leave for Ulster, in Ireland, and as far west as Nova Scotia, Canada. In an effort to reverse the economic downturn, parliament founded the Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh, supporting Scottish enterprise. The bank began printing its own notes, becoming the first European bank to do so. It is now the oldest bank in the United Kingdom.
In 1707, Scotland and England were officially united with the Act of Union, under the title of Great Britain. Free trade was established and the economy boomed. Scotland gained seats in the House of Commons, and Scottish Parliament was dissolved.
Over the next four decades, however, the land was invaded by Jacobites from France, but were soundly defeated.
Britain turned on Scottish culture in 1745, in an attempt to eradicate its influence. The Highland Clearances saw many residents lose their homes as land ownership was restructured. Some Scots moved to the British territories, while more moved to Canada.
Many Highlanders moved to the Lowlands, spawning growth in industry and agriculture. During this time, agricultural practices evolved and farming became a stable industry. The ``Agricultural Revolution drew even more residents to the Lowlands.
The remaining years of the 18th century saw increased growth and prosperity, both economically and culturally, leading into the period known as the Scottish Enlightenment. Philosophy and science came to prominence, marked by a fundamental belief in human reasoning. The Scottish Enlightenment changed the way the world saw the nation.
By the onset of the 19th century, the Lowlands turned to heavy industry. Glasgow became a major center for cotton production and shipbuilding, and grew into one of the largest cities in the world at the time. Prosperity led to increasing nationalist idealism, resulting in several efforts to assert an independent Scottish identity, such as the now famous Wallace Monument near Stirling. The monument consists of a 220 foot tower, housing several items believed to belong to the hero.
The Industrial Revolution that followed led the country into the modern world, with the development of textile and iron industries, chemical production and the introduction of steam power. The result was a period of unprecedented growth that would continue into the 20th century. Gas lighting was installed, and canals were dug to increase industrial links with the city of London.
The tide would not change until the First World War took many highlanders to the front lines. By the end of the war, civil unrest led to fears of revolt in British political circles, who sent soldiers to maintain the peace in the large cities.
The early years of the 20th century saw the beginnings of the Scottish Renaissance, which saw an increased interest in philosophy and technology.
Economic hardship continued until the Second World War, which saw growth in naval bases. Unfortunately, these became a target for German forces. Allied forces trained in the Scottish mountains, and again many Highlanders went to war. The population suffered.
High ranking Nazi officer Rudolf Hess flew to Scotland in 1941, presumably seeking peace with Britain and support of the war with Russia. Hess would be held in Britain until the Nuremburg Trials.
Post war Scotland suffered economically. Things began to turn around, however, when oil was discovered in the north. With renewed strength, Scotland began to experience a resurgence in separatist sentiment. The Renaissance began to lose momentum, but remained a strong influence on separatist sentiment. In 1997, a statue of Sir William Wallace was unveiled at the Wallace Monument, reflecting the sentiment that established the monument in 1869. Unfortunately, the statue received criticism, and vandalism, as the stone figure resembled Mel Gibsonís portrayal in the movie Braveheart more than Wallace himself.
In 1999, Scotland re-established its own parliament, after nearly 300 years under British control. Its power is limited, however, and Scotland remains a member of the United Kingdom. Curiously, in 2007, Scotland issued several commemorative coins and a paper note celebrating the 1707 Acts of Union.
Modern Scotland enjoys a wealth of industry, with growth in technology and computer manufacturing. Glasgow produces one fifth of Great Britainís biotechnology, and more than 30% of all computers sold throughout Europe. Scotland will play host to the 2012 Olympic football games, and the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
In recent years, tourism has begun to influence the economy, bringing in approximately 5% of national revenues. Visitors travel from around the world to experience the unique culture, and of course, try their hand at golf. Scotland maintains many historic golf courses, including The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, founded in 1754, now recognized as the home of golf and the site of a sort of sporting pilgrimage.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Health: You do not need any vaccinations before you visit Scotland
Currency: Scottish Pound
Climate: summer beautiful warm summer days, winter cold and wet