66 Interesting Facts About Scotland

Last updated on March 20th, 2020

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

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.

Encyclopedia Britannica volumes on a shelf in a public library. Photo: monticello / Shutterstock.com

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, Scotland – The world’s oldest student union building.

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.

Massive Haggis food dish with knife stuck in it. Part of Burns Night celebrations in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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.

Flag of Scotland

Scotland flag
Scottish Flag. Image credit – flags.net

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.

Map of Scotland

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. 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.

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