Scotland History, Language and Culture

History of Scotland

Scotland's written history began with the arrival of the Romans in the 1st century. Met with fearsome Caledonian tribes known as the Picts, the Romans failed to conquer Scotland and left by 212 AD.

Then in the 9th century the Vikings arrived, and a few centuries later, the infamous power-grab from England began in 1296 when England's monarch, Edward I, believed that he should rule over Scotland. This resulted in two wars – the Battle of Stirling Bridge (1297) and the Battle of Bannockburn (1314). Eventually, England's Edward II agreed to recognise Scotland's independence in 1328.

In 1603, James VI of Scotland took the English and Irish thrones as James I, following the death of England's Elizabeth I who was childless. The union between Scotland and England was further reinforced in the 1707 Treaty. Nonetheless, the spirit of independence remained strong and sparked several Jacobite Risings. In 1746, the ultimate and tragic Battle of Culloden saw the Jacobite army defeated by British forces.

In 1997, Scotland voted for a devolved government and the new government body met for the first time on 12 May 1999 in Edinburgh. The devolution means that the Scottish government is responsible for the country's economy, education, health, justice, rural affairs, housing, environment, equal opportunities, consumer advocacy and advice, transport and taxation.

Did you know?
• Scotland's national flower is the thistle.
• Scotland has 790 islands, of which only 130 are inhabited.
• Scottish Gaelic, an ancient Celtic language that evolved from Old Irish, is one of the four official languages. The others are English, Scots (similar to English) and British Sign Language.

Scotland Culture

Religion in Scotland

Predominately Christians (around 65%), with small Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish minorities. Around a quarter of the population has no religion.

Social Conventions in Scotland

A firm handshake is a common form of greeting when introduced to someone for the first time. Being punctual is essential, and wise to include 'please' and 'thank you' in your conversations. When going out for a meal, it is polite to wait until everyone is served before eating.

Casual wear is widely accepted, but a more formal dress code is often required for important meetings and social functions.

Language in Scotland

Scotland has four official languages: English (the main spoken language), Gaelic (spoken in some communities in the Highlands and Scottish Islands), Scots (similar to English and spoken in pockets of the Lowlands) and British Sign Language.

A digital image at

Related Articles

City Highlight: Edinburgh

World-class culture, striking architecture and a dazzling nightlife, Edinburgh is a city that will leave you awestruck and wanting more

Explore Scotland’s historic castles

Only a selection of Scotland’s 2000 castles is preserved, restored and open to the public. Here are 10 of the best historic castles in Scotland

19 of the best British seaside towns and holidays

The Great British beach holiday is back in vogue, so we round up the best coastal resorts for a sun and fun holiday in England, Wales and Scotland

Book a Hotel