66 Interesting Facts About Scotland

Last updated on December 20th, 2016

Scotland has diverse and dramatic landscape. Scottish people are vibrant and enthusiastic, well educated, motivated and skilled. With these 66 interesting facts about Scotland, let’s learn about its history, culture, people, traditions, economy, inventions, tourism, and some amazing things.

Historical facts about Scotland

1. Scotland has many untouched and pristine islands. Built even before the Stonehenge or the Pyramids, Skara Brae, in the Orkney islands is known as “Scottish Pompeii”, for its extraordinary preservation of a medieval entire city.

2. The other jewel from the medieval world is the Knap of Howar, which is oldest preserved stone house in northern Europe.

Knap of Howar, Scotland
Knap of Howar, “the oldest preserved stone house in Northern Europe”. Image source – Wikipedia

3. The Bank of Scotland, set up in 1695, is one of the three oldest banks in Britain. The other two are the Barclays and The Bank of England.

4. Aberdeen Harbour Board, founded in 1136, is Britain’s oldest running business. Nestled in Scotland’s western shore, it has seen all major world events pass by, in its 900-year history.

5. The Encyclopedia Britannica, which is the Wikipedia of the past, originated in Scotland. It was the idea of an Edinburgh bookseller, Colin Macfarquhar.

6. Edinburgh was the most modern city in the world in its hay-days. It’s credited with having the world’s first fire-brigade, way back in 1824.

7. Interestingly, 1824 was also the year of The Great Fire of Edinburgh, a fire accident which went on for five days and burned the city to ashes.

8. Scotland was an independent country up till the 15th century. The country merged to form the Great Britain when the King of Scotland was given the throne of England in 1603.

9. Glasgow is also the birthplace of football diplomacy. In 1872, the first ever official international football match was played here, between Scotland v England. Neither side could score a goal.

10. The Teviot Row House is a historic building inside the Edinburgh University. It is the oldest student’s union building in the world.

Teviot Row House
Teviot Row House, Scotland – The world’s oldest student union building. Image credit – Jon Vrushi

Scottish culture and tradition

11. If Prague has the absinthe, Germany has the beer and Jamaica has the rum, then Scotland is the land of the classiest whiskey in the world-the good old scotch.

12. Speaking of all things classy, Scotland is also the land where golf emerged. The oldest golf championship, The Open Championship, was first played in 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club.

13. Sherlock Homes, the de-facto inspiration for all detective novels, was the brainchild of Scottish author Arthur Conan Doyle.

14. One of the Seven wonders of the industrial world, the Bell Rock Lighthouse, is located in Scotland.

15. Loch Ness Monster is more than just a mythical folklore in Scotland. It was reportedly sighted by many prominent people, over several centuries.

16. To love the national dish of Scotland, you have to love the sheep very deeply. The notorious Haggis, which is a nightmare for vegans, is made with the heart, liver, and lungs of a sheep and then boiled in the animal’s stomach.

17. The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle is considered as Scotland’s highest Chivalric order.

18. 30th November is the National Day of Scotland, the St Andrew’s Day.

19. Scottish breakfasts are one of the best hangover treatments. It spot-on traditional breakfast includes Scottish style black pudding, Lorne sausage, baked beans, tattie scones, poached egg, toast and English tea or coffee.

20. Some call it ear-torture and some sway and dance to its rhythm. Scotland’s national instrument is the Great Highland bagpipe, which forms the heart and soul of Scottish culture.

21. The next cultural masterpiece of Scotland is the Scottish kilt, which is a knee-long single piece skirt-type garment.

22. The most powerful historic hero of Scotland is William Wallace, who began a revolt against King Edward I of England.

23. The two great bards of the Scottish language are Robert Burns (aka ‘Rabbie’ Burns) and Sir Walter Scott. They produced epic volumes of literature and poems, widely famous even today.

24. One of the largest performing arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh International Festival, attracts over 300,000 people annually.

Scotland facts for Kids

25. The world’s first color photograph, that of a Tartan Ribbon, was taken in Scotland.

26. Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, was born and brought up in Edinburgh.

27. The most dramatic experiment of the 21st century happened in Scotland. The first successfully cloned lifeform, Dolly the sheep, was created in a lab in the University of Edinburgh. It was a very powerful and watershed moment in our understanding of the life on earth.

28. Thanks to Scotland, the world today knows a lot about antibiotics. Born in Scotland, a pioneer of modern medicine, Sir Alexander Fleming, is credited with the discovery of penicillin. It saved millions of lives and earned him The Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945.

29. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a gala affair, hosted every august during the Edinburgh Festival. Audiences get a great dose of local culture and awesome bagpipes music.

30. Paris may be the city of love, but the remains of St Valentine remains at Glasgow’s Blessed St John Duns Scotus.

Read: Some interesting facts about France

31. There are around 300 castles in Scotland. Given its size, it’s about one castle for every 100 square miles.

Glamis Castle from Aberdeen Scotland
Glamis Castle from Aberdeen Scotland. Image credit – Nick Bramhall

32. The different clans are recognized by the pattern of knitting in their kilt. Not kidding.

33. Scotland is all about mythical creatures. The local folklore is washed with stories of elves, spirits, fairies, ghosts, monsters Goblins and mythical beasts, giants, etc.

34. With so much to enjoy around, ghosts seem to love Edinburgh. The city is a top haunted destination in Europe and there is a whole tourism niche developed around it. Check out the Mackenzie poltergeist, to start your Scottish ghost adventure.

Weird and amazing facts

35. Right is left for Scottish drivers. There is a popular car sticker in Scotland which goes like this: “Left alive. Dead right”.

36. Hard-core science enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the legend Sir James Clerk Maxwell, founder of modern electromagnetism, was born in Scotland.

37. If you hate jet lags, take the Loganair flight from Westray to Papa Westray, which happens to be the world’s shortest commercial flight. The distance is 1.7 miles and it will take you less than a minute to reach your destination.

38. Red is the new normal in Scotland. At least 40% of local Scots have the red hair gene in their DNA. Scientists believe it’s due to the lack of sunshine.

39. Glasgow was once the music capital of the world, and the Britannia Panopticon is the oldest surviving music hall in the world.

40. The next first for Glasgow comes from the world of medicine. Ultrasound, which is used to takes the first pictures of a human inside a womb was first used in Glasgow hospitals during the 1950’s.

41. Edinburgh is sometimes referred to as the Athens of the North, due to its historical charm straight from the Neolithic ages.

42. Edinburgh is a city built on seven hills. The other cities in this “7 hill club” are Rome, Moscow, and Madrid.

43. Though the population of Edinburgh is half a million, a staggering 13+ million tourists visit the city. That means 26 tourists for every local.

44. The Royal Mile of Edinburgh is the most iconic part of the city. Leading straight to an even classier downtown, this street was once used to be the favorite street walk for powerful kings and noblemen.

45. The reason for so many castles is the clan-based system of Scotland. A great number of ancient clans have existed since the birth of civilization in Scotland.

46. The simple Thistle plant is the national symbol of Scotland.

The Thistle, Scotland's national flower
The Thistle, Scotland’s national flower. Image credit – Ewan Munro

47. New Year in Scotland is a time of fun, frolic, and festivity. The unique Hogmanay festival is observed on the 1st day of each year and the skies are always lit with fireworks, from dusk to dawn.

48. The next big January event in Scotland is the birthday of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns. It’s as big as any Scottish celebration so prepare your legs for some dance.

49. Speaking of dancing, Scots are world famous dancers. There are an amazing 15000 documented types of Scottish country dancing. Experts believe that the number of undocumented ones far exceeds the ones recorded.

50. Whisky is the Scottish gift to the world. In the local Gaelic language Whisky translates into “water of life.”

51. The most famous spot in Edinburgh is the city’s downtown, the Grass market. It’s a classic place with cobbled streets, old-style shops, and interesting statues. It also used to be a public hanging spot.

52. A fishwife named Maggie Dickson was hanged here, but she later woke up from her coffin. Nothing haunted, she simply didn’t die. The irony is Scottish law had to set her free as she already served her punishment.

General Scotland information

53. Scotland’s official name is Unicorn.

54. Scotland is the second largest country in the U.K after England. The U.K comprises of four countries including Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England.

55. In the north eastern Scotland, they call girls – “quines” and boys – “louns.”

56. If you want to see the oldest tree in Europe, you should head to Fortingall, Scotland. The tree is no less than 3000 years old.

57. Television lovers note that John Logie Beurd, a Scott, invented the television in 1925.

58. Andy Murray is a famous Scottish tennis player. He has won some Grand Slam titles and is currently ranked among the top three players in the world.

59. Scotland is also blessed to have the oldest working post office in the world – at Sanqurar, established in 1712.

60. Note that Forbes Magazine’s owner Bertie Charles Forbes was born is Scotland.

61. Rugby fans should learn that the world’s first international rugby match was played in Scotland.

62. Scotland has nearly 790 islands, of which 130 are inhibited.

63. Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the region.

64. The word “Scot” is found in Latin texts from the fourth century describing a tribe which sailed from Ireland to raid Roman Britain – Wikipedia.

65. Raincoat was invented in Scotland.

66. In 2014 voting was conducted in Scotland to ask the people whether they wanted Scotland to be an independent country or a part of the U.K. 55.3% of voters answered “No” and 44.7% answered “Yes”, with a voter turnout of 84.5%.

Some old Scottish sayings and their meanings

  • Skinny Malinky Longlegs! – A tall thin person.
  • Failing means yer playin! – When you fail at something at least you’re trying.
  • Mony a mickle maks a muckle! – Saving a small amount soon builds up to a large amount.
  • Dinnae marry fur money! – Don’t marry for money – you can borrow it cheaper.
  • Do yer dinger. – Loudly express disapproval.
  • We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns! – We’re all God’s children, nobody is better than anybody else – we’re all equal.
  • Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye! – What’s meant to happen will happen.
  • Lang may yer lum reek! – May you live long and stay well.
  • Haud yer wheesht! – Be quiet.

Quick facts about Scotland

Capital CityEdinburgh
55°57′N 3°11′W
Largest CityGlasgow
55°51′N 4°16′W
Land Area30,090 sq mi
Population5,373,000 (2015 estimate)
Official LanguageEnglish
CurrencyPound sterling (GBP)
ReligionRoman Catholicism
Average Life Span76.8 Years (2014)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Time ZoneGMT (UTC​)
Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
GDP$245.267 billion
Calling Code+44
Drives on theLeft


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