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History of Scotland

Updated on August 26, 2014

Scotland had a long history of fierce independence, resisting onslaughts by Romans, Anglo-Saxons, and the English, until the act of union in 1707 united England and Scotland under one king and parliament. A progression of events, including union of the crowns of England and Scotland in 1603, and questions of economic viability made union inevitable in 1707. Once effected, however, many Scots felt regretful and resentful, evaluating Scotland as the junior partner in the merger. The union has survived and prospered. The Scots and the English alike consider themselves British, but Scottish nationalism flickers periodically, usually in negative response to poor economics.

Before 1286

The earliest inhabitants of Scotland have left few traces of their presence during the Old Stone Age (before about 8000 B.C.).

They may all have been visiting hunters and fishermen.

In the New Stone Age (about 4000-2000 B.C.), however, two colonizing movements can be clearly traced. One of these started in the Mediterranean and reached the western and northern coasts of Scotland by way of the Bay of Biscay along an old trade route from the Mediterranean to the Baltic. The other came from the European continent across the North Sea to the east coast. Settlements were made about the same time by these colonists on the western and eastern coasts, and the river valleys were followed inland. These newcomers were agriculturists who reared cattle and owned domestic animals, and they gradually colonized Scotland.

The western people, characterized anatomically as longheaded, are noted for their burial cairns, each containing a series of chambers attached to a kind of family vault, while the roundheaded eastern colonists buried their dead individually in short cists (graves lined with stone slabs).

In the centuries before the birth of Christ, new settlements were made by Celtic peoples, familiar with the working of iron, who lived in organized communities under chieftains in hill forts. It was for defense against them that the Romans, after failing to conquer Scotland, constructed the walls from the Tyne River, England, to the Solway Firth, and from the Clyde River to the Firth of Forth. Punitive expeditions were made beyond the walls from time to time, but northern Scotland remained little influenced by the Romans. Even the south, though militarily occupied at times, had virtually no contact with Roman civilization.


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    • GClark profile image

      GClark 5 years ago from United States

      With a Scottish ancestry myself, I found this interesting but a bit simplistic and think you should have mentioned the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh established in 1999 and its connection with British Parliament, etc. Look forward to reading more. GClark