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Cities in SCOTLAND


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Prehistory and Antiquity

Knapp of Howar, a house from 3500 B.C, ScotlandKnapp of Howar, a house from 3500 B.C, ScotlandPhoto: Unknown CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Approx. 8500 BC, after the last ice age, people must have lived in Scotland. Given the archaeological finds that have been made, they probably came from Spain or France. For example, a burial chamber was found in the Orkney Islands that closely resembled finds in the Iberian Peninsula. Stone axes indicate the arrival of trading Irish. At the time, the strip of land between France and England had not yet been completely flooded by the Channel. Hence, these prehistoric nomads were able to penetrate freely into "English" territory.

Around 3000 BC. immigrants came from the Low Countries and Rhineland, the 'Beaker People' (Beaker People). These immigrants later mixed with the already existing Picts. Very little is known about the Picts. This people, enemies of the Romans, were first reported in AD 297. When the Roman Empire in 409 AD. fell into disrepair, the southeastern Picts were driven out by the Celtic Scotii. In the 10th century, there was nothing left of the Picts and the Pictish culture.

Scotland's famous megalithic monuments were erected between 2000 and 1500 BC. by a people believed to be from the Mediterranean.

At the beginning of the Iron Age, c. 800 years BC. Celtic speaking tribes moved from Central Europe to Scotland.

Roman "domination"

Pictish symbolic stone ScotlandPictish symbolic stone ScotlandPhoto: Catfish Jim and the soapdish at English Wikipedia CC 3.0 no changes made

The Romans tried from 43 AD. to get the British archipelago (Latin: Britannia) under control, and as far as England and parts of Wales were concerned, this had already been successful in 78. Scotland (Latin: Caledonia) was a very different story, however, as the inaccessible Highlands were an impregnable fortress and plans for the conquest of Scotland were soon abandoned.

The Romans were so afraid of raids from the north by the Caledonians that Emperor Hadrian (117-138) had a 110-kilometer long defense wall (Hadrian's Wall) built in 122 along the border ("limes"). Further north, Antoninus Pius (138-161) built a second defensive wall in 140, "Antonine's Wall". The Romans would rule the UK until the early 5th century, but from 368 they no longer had any power in Scotland. Around 400 AD. the Romans left their northern outposts and Scotland was divided into four nations, each with their own ruler. The Picts and the Scots are the two most important. In 407, the last Romans left England, fleeing the rising uprisings.

Middle Ages

Kenneth I MacAlpin, King of Scotland (843-63)Kenneth I MacAlpin, King of Scotland (843-63)Photo: Public domain

Thus, after the Romans, four nations settled in the area that was to become Scotland, including the rival Picts and Scots. The Scots were originally from Northern Ireland, then called Scotia. They crossed to the mainland in the 5th century and called their kingdom "Dalriada", which meant "Kingdom of the Scots". The name Scotland only came into fashion in the 10th century. An important date was the year 563 when the Irish monk Saint Columbanus settled on the island of Iona and from there began to spread Christianity across northwestern Europe.

In 843, Picts and Scots united under Kenneth I MacAlpin, who became king of Alba, the later kingdom of Scotia. Both peoples had now converted to Christianity, and Gaelic, the language of the Scots, gradually became the national language. Remarkably, the culture of the once mighty Picts would disappear completely.

Meanwhile, the Germanic Angels had also migrated from the area around the mouth of the Elbe to Northern England (Northumbria) and settled in what is now Lothian. Furthermore, the Lowlands were home to Breton, and from 890, raids of the Vikings, which occupied the Western Isles for 370 years, and the Shetland and Orkney Islands began for nearly 600 years.

The Kingdom of Scotland

The seat of government in the United Kingdom of Scotia was established by King Kenneth I in Scone, where almost all of his successors would also be crowned. The kings were seated on the sacred "Stone of Scone" (Stone of Destiny).
Under Malcolm II, Scotia expanded to the present southern border of Scotland. Edinburgh was brought under the influence of the Scottish monarch in 962, and the Angels were subdued in 1018.

Duncan I King of Scotland (1034-1040)Duncan I King of Scotland (1034-1040)Photo: Public domain

In 1034, Duncan I became the first king of a unified Scotland, including Lothian. Only the areas where the Vikings lived were excluded from this.

Duncan I was murdered in 1040 by Macbeth (Shakespeare), who was defeated again in 1057 by Duncan's son, Malcolm III "Ceann Mor" (Grand Head).

In 1066 (Battle of Hastings) England was conquered by William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy. A few months later he was crowned King William I of England in London and English as the official language was even replaced by French. Modern English would later emerge from this mixture of two languages. During this time, the power of the Church also increased enormously. The kings made great donations to the Church in exchange for support against potential enemies.

Marriages between English and Scottish nobility led to widespread conflicts of interest, resulting in many conflicts and unrest. David I, son of Malcolm III, conquered almost all of Northumbria, what is now Northern England. His grandson William the Lion first performed the standing red Scottish lion on his banner. Until 1286, Scotland entered a somewhat calmer waters and the economy and culture flourished under the kings Alexander II and Alexander III.

War of independence (1297-1328)

Statue Robert the Bruce ScotlandStatue Robert the Bruce ScotlandPhoto:Aaron Bradley (CC BY-SA 2.0) no changes made

Alexander III's death in 1286 sparked a succession crisis and a long, bloody struggle for Scottish independence.

Alexander had no successor, and when he died his three-year-old granddaughter Margaret, daughter of the King of Norway, became Queen of Scotland in 1286. However, in 1290 she died unexpectedly and a power vacuum was created.

No fewer than thirteen pretenders to the throne claimed the throne, but Edward I of England appointed the great-grandson of David I, John Baillol, as king of Scotland in 1292. Much to Edward's chagrin, this Baillol made an alliance with France in 1295 (The Auld Alliance). Edward responded by sending troops, conquering part of Scotland and taking the famous "Stone of Scone" with him.

The next Scottish leader, William Wallace, would become a Scottish hero. He defeated the English at Stirling (1297), but eventually had to lose in 1298 at Falkirk. In 1305 he was captured by the British and sentenced, hanged and quartered in London.

In 1306 a new Scottish hero was crowned king, Robert I "The Bruce". He attempted to retake the Lowlands from King Edward II of England and on June 24, 1314, defeated a large English army at Bannockburn, near Stirling.

The "Declaration of Arbroath" in 1320 declared the independence of Scotland by the nobles of Robert Bruce, but it was not until 1328 that the English King Edward III recognized the sovereign status of Scotland by the Treaty of Northampton. Robert The Bruce did not enjoy this for long, he died in 1329.

The House of Stewart (later Stuart)

James IV of ScotlandJames IV of ScotlandPhoto: Public domain

In 1326, Robert Bruce made an alliance with France, and the main beneficiaries were members of the Stewart (or Stuart) family. They took their name from their position of "High Stewarets" (chamber servants) of the king and descended from the Fitzalans, Normans, who came to England in 1066 with William the Conqueror.

In 1371 the first king of the house of Stewart came to power, Robert II. The 15th century was dominated by continuous conflicts with the English, but internally there was also much conflict and disagreement. Remarkably, in the 15th and 16th centuries, almost all Scottish kings came to the throne as children. The Stuart princes James I, II and III, who ruled successively between 1406 and 1488, came to the throne as a child and all ended violently. This gave the nobility the opportunity to secure almost royal privileges, greatly diminishing the power of the central government.

In 1503, King James IV married Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England, and their descendants were allowed to claim the English throne again. James IV re-established ties with France, and thus went to war with Henry VIII of England. In 1513 the Scottish army was defeated at the Battle of Flodden Hill and James IV was also killed.

James V then decided to strengthen the ties with the French even more and in 1537 even married a daughter of François I and later the French princess Marie de Guise.

Especially Catholic Scotland fell under the spell of the Reformation in the 16th century. Protestants led by John Knox sought support from already reformed England.

Era Mary Stuart (1542-1567)

Mary Queen of ScotsMary Queen of ScotsPhoto: Public domain

James V died in 1542 and was succeeded by his daughter and sole heir, the later Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. She was only nine months old when she was crowned Queen of Scotland, and was also the first daughter of the English Henry VII to become the English throne. Her mother, Marie de Guise, held the regency from 1554 and had Mary brought up at the French court. It was therefore not surprising that she married the French crown prince François II in 1558.

Also in 1558 Elizabeth I became Queen of England, but she was not recognized as such by France. She was a daughter from an illegitimate marriage, hence. When the King of France died in 1559, the then 16-year-old Mary came to the French throne with her husband and later proclaimed herself Queen of England.

When Mary was eighteen years old, she returned to Scotland as the widow of the French crown prince. In 1565, she married her cousin Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, who was murdered in 1567. On June 19, 1566, Mary gave birth to a son, James VI of Scotland, later James I of England. In 1567, she married James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, who was suspected of having been involved in the murder of Darnley. This sparked a true rebellion and Protestant nobles committed another coup the same year and imprisoned Mary. She was forced to resign and appoint a regency board for her son. In June 1567, James VI was crowned Protestant King of Scotland, but was under the regency of Mary's half-brother James Stewart, Earl of Moray, and English-minded lords.

In 1568, Mary escaped from her prison and fled to England to seek help from her cousin Elizabeth I. Her claims to the English throne did not make her very friendly, on the contrary, she was held in exile on Fotheringhay for 19 years. Castle and beheaded on February 8, 1587.

Seventeenth century

King Charles I od ScotlandKing Charles I od ScotlandPhoto: Public domain

Mary's son, James VI of Scotland (the last Stuart king), succeeded his cousin Elizabeth I in 1603 and became James I of England. Desperate for power, he tried to link his son Charles to the Catholic Henriette Marie of France. This Charles succeeded his father James VI in 1625 and wanted to change the Calvinist Church in Scotland to an Anglican model. This led to a Scottish uprising in 1639 and after great problems with the English parliament, he fled to northern England, which was still well-disposed to him.

Eventually a civil war followed in 1642, won by Oliver Cromwell and his New Model Army. In January 1649, Charles was convicted and beheaded on January 30. Cromwell did not grow out of it and abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the republic, and England, Ireland and Scotland were united into a commonwealth. However, this did not work and after Cromwell's death in 1660, Charles II came to the throne, who ruled Scotland from England.

Childless Charles was succeeded by his brother, James VII of Scotland (also James II of England). James was a Catholic and was deposed in 1688 in favor of his daughter Mary, who was married in Holland to the Protestant prince William of Orange (William of Orange). Both the English and the Scots found a Catholic king unacceptable and at the request of the English parliament Willem landed on English soil on November 5, 1688. In 1689, William and Mary were crowned King William III and Queen Mary II and James VII fled to France ("The Glorious Revolution").

Some Scots, most Highlanders, remained loyal to James. These so-called Jacobites rebelled and on July 27, 1689, an army of William was defeated at the pass of Killiecrankie. Queen Anne succeeded Willem in 1702, but the English Parliament was determined to keep the thrones of England and Scotland further out of the Stuarts' hands. They turned to Elector Sophie of Hanover, a granddaughter of James VI. The Scots were promised that if they accepted the succession by the Hanoverian house, they would be given many important trade concessions. However, there was one very important condition: England and Scotland had to unite under one parliament!

In 1690, another law was passed that definitively recognized the Presbyterian Church of Scotland as a state church.

Scotland and England together

Bonnie Prince Charle ScotlamdBonnie Prince Charle ScotlamdPhoto: Public domain

Rebellions broke out in Edinburgh and elsewhere, but the opposition was severely divided and on May 1, 1707, the Treaty of the Union (Act of the Union) was signed by Scotland and England, which lifted the Scottish Parliament and left Scotland as a state and Britain was a fact.

Economically it was a good thing for Scotland because England had grown into a world economic power. It was interesting for England because a potential enemy at the northern border had been lost.

Still, not everyone was charmed by the agreement with the English, and several supporters of the house of Stuart could still be found. One was Charles Edward Stuart, grandson of James II, who fled to France. He was also called "young pretender" or "Bonnie prince Charlie" and he attempted to overthrow the English king George II in 1745 in order to get his father James Edward Stuart (James VIII) on the British throne. In the valley of Glenfinnan he raised the standard of the House of Stuart on August 19, 1745 and proclaimed his father King James VIII of Scotland (also James III of England) and regent himself.

However, on April 16, 1746, the Jacobites were defeated at the Battle of Culloden by English troops led by the Duke of Cumberland. Bonnie Prince Charlie eventually escaped to Italy and Cumberland eliminated all Scottish foci of resistance.

After the Battle of Culloden, strict measures were announced for the Scottish Highlands. It was now forbidden by law to wear tartan, play bagpipes and carry weapons. The ties between clan and clan chief were broken and would never be restored.

Scotland 1745 – 1850

Robert Burns Poet ScotlandRobert Burns Poet ScotlandPhoto: Public domain

After the defeat, life in the Highlands of Scotland changed radically. The significance of the clans declined and they switched from traditional livestock farming to sheep farming. The main food for the poor farmers was potatoes, and after a failed harvest, thousands of Scots emigrated to Canada, Australia and the United States. Many Highlanders also left for the major cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, where new industries opened up employment. This period of depopulation is called the Highland Clearances, which lasted roughly from 1780 to 1820. This was also the time of the so-called Scottish Enlightenment, an intellectual, scientific and commercial boom. In the second half of the eighteenth century, Scotland experienced industrialization and a boom in activity in many industries. As a result, in the 18th century Scotland changed from one of the poorest countries in Europe to a state of reasonable prosperity.

Finally, Robert Burns' poetry and even more the historical novels by Sir Walter Scott contributed to preserving awareness of national identity and traditions in Scotland.

Scotland 1850-2000

Statue Donald Dewar ScotlandStatue Donald Dewar ScotlandPhoto: Douglas Sheehan CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Scottish Labor Party was founded in 1888 and the National Party of Scotland in 1928, also a left-wing party that wanted to separate itself completely from England. This went too far for many Scots at the time and in response to this the moderate Scottish National Party was established in 1934, which pursued self-government within the Commonwealth. The Labor Party has been the largest party in Scotland since 1945. The leader of this party, Donald Dewar, became Prime Minister of Scotland's new semi-autonomous administration after the elections of 6 May 1999.

This good result for Scotland came after a long time of "devolution" (decentralization) and the pursuit of "home rule". In 1707, the Scottish Parliament was merged with the English. In the 20th century, however, many powers were again transferred to The Scottish Office, the United Kingdom Department in charge of Scottish affairs. The relevant minister was still accountable to the London parliament.

In the sixties of the last century, there was again much talk about the question of whether another Scottish parliament should be established. At the end of the 1970s, an attempt at privatization was undertaken by the Labor government, but it failed completely. Scotland then suffered a strike wave and Labor lost the election and only came back to power in 1997. Labor won by promising, among other things, that decentralization of power to Scotland would be central to the new policy. In 1996, the Scottish coronation stone, the Stone of Scone, was returned to Scotland with much ceremony after more than 700 years.

On July 24, 1997, the British government released a book entitled Scotland's Parliament. This book proposed the establishment of a Scottish Parliament that would have legislative powers and the right to levy taxes. A referendum was held in Scotland on 11 September 1997 and nearly three-quarters of the Scots voted to establish a parliament. On December 17, 1997, all bills (Scotland Bill) which became an Act in November 1998 following royal approval.

Scotland 21th century

Scottish Parliament buildingScottish Parliament buildingPhoto: Kim Traynor CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The first elections to a Scottish Parliament were held on 6 May 1999; the Labor Party received 56 out of 129 seats in parliament, the Scottish National Party (SNP) 35. Labor formed a coalition with the moderate Liberal Democrats, who finished fourth with 17 seats. The Conservatives won 18 seats. Parliament first met in Edinburgh on July 1 of that year.

It is not yet entirely clear whether one strives for complete independence, but the devolution goal (self-government and decentralization - yes, secession of Great Britain - no) from the 18th century has now become a reality.

The Scottish Parliament has 129 seats, with the following parties:

Scottish National Party (separatist social democrats)
Scottish Labor Party (federalist social democrats)
Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party (Unionist Conservatives)
Scottish Liberal Democrats (federalist liberals)
Scottish Green Party (separatist greens)

Nicola Sturgeon ScotlandNicola Sturgeon ScotlandPhoto: Kenneth Halley CC 4.0 International no changes made

Since the 2011 elections, Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party heads a majority cabinet. In September 2014, the Scottish people voted in a referendum that Scotland will remain within the United Kingdom. In 2016, the call for independence will again become stronger. The Scots want to stay within the EU and the UK has decided by referendum to move beyond the EU. Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon has taken over from Alex Salmond since 2014. She does particularly well in elections to the UK Parliament. In the last elections of 2019, her SNP took 48 seats out of the 59 seats available for Scotland. The SNP and most Scots are pro EU. At the Scottish alections of 2021, the SNP and the Greens, both of which support Scottish independence, won 72 of the 129 seats in the parliament. Following the election the third Sturgeon government was formed, initially consisting of just the SNP but later including the Greens.

See also the history of England on TheWorldOfInfo.


Berkien, G. / Schotland

Berkien, G. / Schotland

Larrimore, D. / Schotland

Levy, P. / Scotland
Marshall Cavendish

Patitz, A. / Schotland
Van Reemst

Schaff, B. / Schotland
Kok Lyra



Michelin Reisuitgaven

Van Reemst

Smallman, T. / Scotland
Lonely Planet

Stoks, F.T. / Schotland

Summers, G. / Schotland
Van Reemst

Tschirner, S. / Schotland

Wamel, D. van / Schotland en Noord-Engeland
Babylon-De Geus

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated February 2024
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