The History of Scotland is filled with 2,000 years of bloodshed, intrigue and many stories of heroism and valour. From the earliest settlers through to the most recent events in our history we have pulled together a set of significant moments in the shaping of our great nation. Please select a period to begin your journey…
Our ancient history like so many other nations is shrouded in mystery – It is not until the Roman Empire reached Scotland that records began to be kept. An inhospitable place covered in a great forest and inhabited by a race known as the Picts – Scotland was abandoned by Rome soon after it was discovered. As the Picts all but disappeared the new nation of Scotland began to emerge.
» Read about Ancient Scotland
Having seen the invasion of the Vikings, Normans and Irish tribes, Scotland began its troublesome relationship with its southern neighbour. England’s troubles with France led us into an alliance that provided mixed fortunes.
Great leaders such as William Wallace and Robert the Bruce (above) led Scotland in overwhelming victories over England at Stirling and Bannockburn, however these victories were matched by many crushing defeats such as those at Falkirk and Halidon Hill.
Despite this there were some brighter moments in these otherwise dark ages – St Andrews University was founded and soon followed by Aberdeen and Edinburgh – so beginning Scotland’s reputation as a place of great learning. Also its relationship with the Danes improved as Orkney and Shetland returned to Scotland once again.
» Read about Medieval Scotland
In Italy a golden age of Invention and art had begun – in Scotland an age of religious intolerance and persecution replaced it. The relationship with tudor England resulted in the disaster of Flodden. Mary, Queen of Scots emerged from this schism of church and state to become one of the nations most romantic and tragic characters.
» Read about Renaissance Scotland
Mary’s legacy to Scotland was give birth to James VI who became James I of England and so unified Scotland and England at last. However the religious split across the newly unified nation did not go away.
The covenanters emerged and were persecuted for their beliefs, Britain was thrown into a bloody civil war which resulted in the protectorate of Cromwell.
The Crown was soon restored but the troubles did not end there. the Stewart right to the throne was challenged and won by William of Orange. Scotland suffered a double blow after this; firstly in our darkest moment as the Macdonalds of Glencoe (above) were famously massacred and secondly in the ill fated Darien scheme. This failed venture to establish a trading colony in the new world all but bankrupted Scotland and lead indirectly to the Act of Union and the end of Scottish independence.
» Read about the Scottish Unification
The Jacobite Rebellions: The Stewart claim to the throne was not about to go away and thus began a period of ‘Jacobite’ rebellions. The first attempt in 1715 to restore James Edward ended swiftly in defeat and was followed shortly afterwards by the ‘little rising’ of 1719.
New attempts were made to control the unruly North as roads were built new regiments raised, however by 1745 unrest was growing again and Charles Edward Stuart ‘Bonny Prince Charlie’ arrived to carry on his father’s work.
Despite victories at Prestonpans and Falkirk and despite reaching as far south as Derby the ’45 ended a year later at disastrous Culloden. In the atmosphere of oppression following this defeat emerged two great literary characters; Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott (above), heralding a new age…
» Read about Jacobean Scotland
ulius Agricola was sent in the year AD77 to be governor of Britain for the Roman Empire. He pushed the Empire’s reach northwards with advances to the valley crossing Scotland from the Clyde to the Forth in AD80. He enforced the front with a row of forts before continuing with campaigns up the east of Scotland in AD83 as far as the Moray Firth, using a fleet to supplement the supply lines.
» Read about Modern Scotland