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  "There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance." -- Goethe

"The search for truth is never wrong.  The only sin is to lack the courage to follow where truth leads." -- Duke

"He alone deserves to be remembered by his children who treasures up and preserves the memory of his fathers." -- Edmund Burke


Around 9600 BC hunter-gatherer encampments formed the first known settlements in Scotland.  Archaeologists have dated a site near Edinburgh to around 8500 BC.  Other sites found around Scotland paint a picture of a highly mobile boat-using people making tools from bone, stone and antlers.

Around 3500 BC farming brought permanent settlements and stone houses are found dating from that time.  The settlers introduced chambered cairn tombs and from around 3000 BC many standing stones and circles which pre-historians interpret as showing sophisticated use of astronomical observations.

Around 1100 BC an indo-European Celtic tribe known as the Picts settled in the region.  This tribe quickly assimilated or destroyed the original Old European inhabitants of the north of the British island and settled down to a typical rural Celtic existence.

The cairns and monuments continued and hill forts started to appear some of which accommodated several hundred houses.  The Celtic culture and language spread into Scotland and was firmly established by the 8th century BC and the systems of kingdoms developed.

Around 700 BC the Iron age brought numerous hill forts and fortified settlements which support the image of quarrelsome tribes and petty kingdoms.

Oldest standing house in Northern Europe

located at Knap of Howar, 3500 BC


Neolithic chambered cairn or grave



Ring of Brodgar


The arrival of the Romans in 79 AD aroused the Pictish tribes into armed warfare.  Their resistance was savage and echoed that of their German cousins.  A local population of Caledonian Picts, in 84 AD, were defeated and for the next 300 years Rome had some presence along the southern border of Scotland but they failed to conquer Caldonia.  They were eventually forced to withdraw from the land.  This resistance ensured that the Romans never penetrated into Scotland for any length of time and the Romans finally built a wall across England, Hadrian's Wall, in 122 AD, in an attempt to keep the Picts out of southern England. 

Scotland's population comprised two main groups at this time:  The Picts, a Celtic group, who occupied most of the North, and the Britons, who occupied the South.  When the Romans left in 406 AD Pictish raiders invaded the Britons in the south.  The Britons finally invited Danish settlers into the island to help stem the Pictish tide.  The Danes brought with them a number of other Germanic tribes and the arrival of the Angles, Saxons and others brought an end to the Pictish raids.  Invasions brought two more groups, the Old Irish speaking Scotti (Scots) and the Viking Norse.  The Anglo-Saxons language eventually became the predominant one of lowland Scotland.


Clach an Tiompain,

a Pictish sumbol stone



In the 5th century the Celts from Ireland, called Scots, settled north of the Clyde. This new wave of Celts soon dominated the entire region to the point where they became synonymous with the land to which they gave their name, Scotland.  The Picts were pushed to one side and were merged with the Scots, being of virtually identical sub-racial stock.  The Scots were already Christians when they left Ireland. In the next century the king of the Picts converted to Christianity. In the 9th century Kenneth MacAlpine, king of the Scots, added the Pictish kingdom to his own. In about the 10th century the land became known as Scotland.

After the Normans conquered England in 1066, many Anglo-Saxons from England settled in the Lowlands of Scotland. Here the Scots gradually adopted English ways. Feudalism was established, and the chiefs of the clans became nobles. Towns grew, trade increased, and Scotland prospered.

In 1290 Margaret, heiress to the throne, died. Thirteen people vied for the Crown.  Edward I of England claimed the right to crown whom he wanted and made John de Baliol king.  However John stabbed him in the back and allied with the French against Edward.  In retaliation Edward crossed the border in 1296, took John de Baliol prisoner, and proclaimed himself king of Scotland.  To symbolize the union he carried off the ancient Stone of Scone, on which Scottish kings had long been crowned, and placed it in Westminster Abbey where it lay beneath the coronation chair.

The Coronation Chair

The throne on which the British monarch sits for the coronation.

Commissioned in 1301 by King Edward I to contain the coronation stone of Scotland which he had captured from the Scots who had kept it at Scone Abbey.

All annointed English sovereigns since 1308 have been seated in this chair at the moment of their coronation, with the exception of Queen Mary I and Mary II.  The last occasion was the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953.


The Stone of Scone

Commonly known as the Stone of Destiny

Also known as Jacob's Pillow Stone

Historically kept at the now ruined abbey in Scone, near Perth, Scotland.  It was used for centuries in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland, England and Britain.

By tradition the stone is said to be the pillow stone used by the Biblical patriarch Jacob.  It traveled with his descendants, including 40 years in the wilderness, and was preserved and carried to Ireland with them in 583 BC by the Prophet Jeremiah.

The stone was first used in Ireland by Eochaide the Heromon, a descendant of the Zarah line of Judah, when he was crowned High King of Ireland after his marriage to Tea Tephi, a descendant of the Pharez line of Judah and the daughter of Zedekiah, the king of Judah conquered by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC.

Since the time of Kenneth Mac Alpin, the first King of Scots, around 847, Scottish monarchs were seated upon the stone during their coronation ceremony.


The Scots rose again. Led by Scottish nobleman William Wallace, they routed the English at Stirling Bridge in 1297 and pursued them across the border. The next year Edward returned and inflicted a disastrous defeat on the Scots at Falkirk. The Scots were forced back onto guerrilla warfare against the occupying English and in 1304 Wallace was declared an outlaw by the English occupiers.  Wallace was betrayed by some fellow Scots in 1305, captured and executed.  The English hung his head from London Bridge. This part of the history of Scotland was the foundation for the film "Braveheart".


File:William Wallace Statue , Aberdeen2.jpg

Statue of William Wallace in Aberdeen

The Scots' spirit was still unbroken, and they soon found another great champion in Robert the Bruce, a descendent of an early Scottish King.  He was formally crowned Robert I, King of Scotland in 1306. The last great battle in the war for independence was fought in 1314 at Bannockburn near Stirling Castle. There Bruce inflicted a disastrous defeat on superior English forces led by Edward II.  Bruce then began a guerrilla campaign against pro-English Scottish nobility and the remaining English garrisons in Scotland.  He invaded northern England at one point.  In 1328 Edward III formally recognized Scotland's independence with the Treaty of Northampton.

Statue of Robert the Bruce


Cambuskenneth Abbey, built around 1140 near Stirling


Stirling Castle

In the later Middle Ages, Scotland suffered from weak kings and powerful nobles. For two centuries there was a constant struggle between the Crown and the barons. Border clashes with England also continued. James IV of Scotland married Margaret, daughter of Henry VII of England, in 1503. When Henry VIII went to war with France in 1512, however, James IV invaded England. He fell, "riddled with arrows," at Flodden Field in the last great border battle (1513).

James V died brokenhearted after his army had been slaughtered at Solway Moss (1542). The throne went to his infant daughter, Mary Stuart.

Meanwhile the Protestant Reformation had swept across Europe and into England. Scotland was still a Roman Catholic country. Its young queen, Mary Stuart, was in France when John Knox returned home to Scotland from Geneva, Switzerland. Knox was a follower of John Calvin, one of the leaders of the Reformation. With fiery eloquence he spread Calvin's Protestant doctrine. Knox and others drove Mary out. In 1560 Scotland's parliament adopted a confession of faith drawn up by Knox and established the Church of Scotland on a Presbyterian basis.

When Mary returned to Scotland in 1561, she was imprisoned and forced to abdicate her throne. She escaped, however, and fled to England. Queen Elizabeth I made her a prisoner and finally had her executed.


Mary, Queen of Scots


Loch Leven Castle where Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned

Mary Stuart's son, James VI, was brought up as a Presbyterian. When Queen Elizabeth of England died in 1603, James inherited the throne of England. This is an important point missed by many historians - it was the Scottish king who took over the English throne, not the reverse. In England he was called James I. The two nations were thus united under a single king, but Scotland remained a separate state with its own parliament and government.

England tried repeatedly to impose the Anglicans' episcopal form of worship and church government on the Scottish kirk. The Scots took up arms against Charles I. When civil war broke out in England, they aided the Puritans against the king. After Oliver Cromwell executed Charles I without consulting the Scots, however, the Scots welcomed Charles's son as Charles II. Cromwell then marched into Scotland and imposed his rule. When Charles II was restored to the throne, persecution of Presbyterians continued.

Finally, after James II had been driven from the throne, Presbyterianism was firmly established as Scotland's national church. The Highlanders long remained loyal to the exiled Stuarts. In 1715 they attempted to restore the house of Stuart to the throne; James Stuart, known as the Old Pretender, was proclaimed James III. In 1745 they supported his son, Charles Edward, known as the Young Pretender and Bonnie Prince Charlie. The Young Pretender's quest for the throne ended in 1746 at the battle Culloden when the Highland forces were defeated by the English.

The age-old rivalry between Scotland and England ended formally in 1707 when the parliaments of both nations agreed to the Act of Union. This act merged the parliaments of the two nations and established the Kingdom of Great Britain.



William Wallace Monument near Stirling


Grave of Rob Roy MacGregor and his family,

 the "Robin Hood" of Scotland (d. 1734)


From 1763 to 1775 over 55,000 Scotch-Irish from Ulster and 40,000 Scots arrived in America.  Scotland was able to pursue its own colonies in the New World and several small colonies were established in East Jersey and South Carolina.  These were primarily for Quakers and Presbyterians who were being persecuted by the Episcopalian Church of Scotland.  Some Scots were transported to America as prisoners or criminals and were forced into labor as punished but most voluntarily settled in America as traders or tobacco workers.

Many Scotch-Irish joined the mass migrations to America brought on by the Potato Famine of the 1840s and many more came in the 19th century to work in industry.  As economic conditions worsened in the 20th century in Scotland, immigration would rise, especially during the 1920s when Scotland was hit with an economic depression.

Because of doctrinal differences, the Scotch-Irish opted for the religious freedom of William Penn's Presbyterian colony and so the earliest settlements were near Philadelphia in the 1720s.  They reached as far west as Pittsburgh before finding better opportunities in the south.  Darien, Georgia was founded by Highland Scots in service to General James Oglethorpe.

Today the descendants of the Scotch-Irish number over six million, with about five million more identifying themselves as descended from Scottish ancestry.  California, Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania have the highest concentrations.

The Scots people were among the first European settlers, and along with the other colonists from the British Isles, helped created what has been recognized as the dominant culture in America, namely WHITE and PROTESTANT.


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