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A brief history of Scotland

A brief history of Scotland

3,000 BC - Neolithic Age

The earliest prehistoric tools found still surviving in Scotland date from 3000 BC – during the Neolithic age Scotland was home to nomadic hunter-gatherers as well as the first farmers who built permanent dwellings.

124 AD - The Roman Empire

Scotland’s recorded history began with the arrival of the Roman Empire. Despite building two impressive fortifications – Hadrian’s Wall to defend the northern border, and the Antonine Wall across Central Scotland to advance it forward – the Romans never truly conquered Caledonia. Unable to defeat the Caledonians and Picts, the Romans eventually withdrew and over time retreated away from Britain.

800 AD - Arrival of the Vikings
Vikings were accomplished seamen at this point in history, and around 800 AD they began migrating from Norway and Denmark, crossing the treacherous North Sea to trade and settle in Scotland. While Vikings began to settle in the west, the Picts were forging a new kingdom; the Kingdom of Alba.

1040 AD - Macbeth

Macbeth rules Scotland - Immortalised forever in Shakespeare’s fictitious retelling, Macbeth is perhaps one of the best-known early Scottish kings. Macbeth ruled as King of Alba from 1040 to his death in battle in 1057.

1100 AD - Becoming a feudal society
In the 12th century the Kingdom of Alba continued to grow and became a feudal society.

1297 – William Wallace

The Battle of Stirling Bridge. Edward’s army planned to cross the River Forth at Stirling Bridge; the Scots seized the opportunity to attack at the crossing of the River Forth, the Stirling Bridge, forcing the English army to retreat. It was here one of Scotland’s most famous figures, William Wallace, earned his place in the history books forever.

1306 - Robert the Bruce crowned King of Scotland

Unrest continued into the 14th century when Robert the Bruce took the throne and was crowned king. Fighting continued until 1314 at the Battle of Bannockburn, where Robert the Bruce and his army defeated Edward II, a major turning point in his rule.

1320 - The Declaration of Arbroath

A letter written in Latin, signed by Scottish Barons and Nobles, and sent to Pope John XXII, the Declaration proclaimed Scotland’s status as an independent sovereign state. Though its effect was largely symbolic, the powerful declaration remains an important document in Scottish history – many historians believe it inspired America’s founding fathers to write the United States Declaration of Independence.

1495 - Friar Corr

Friar John Corr of Lindores Abbey in Fife was granted the King’s commission to produce Aqua Vitae ( Latin for Water of Life ) or Uisge Breatha ( Gaelic for whisky).

.1542 - Mary Queen of Scots

Mary, newly born at Linlithgow Palace, was just six days old when her father, James V, died and she was crowned Queen of Scots. Elizabeth I ( her cousin ) imprisoned Mary and later, after almost 19 years of captivity, had her executed at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire in 1567 at the age of 44.

1506 - King James IV

During a visit to Inverness, King James IV’s Treasury Accounts record the purchase of Aqua Vitae.

1603 - The Union of the Crowns

James VI succeeded the throne at just 13 months old after Mary was forced to abdicate. When Elizabeth I died with no children, James VI succeeded to the English throne and became James VI & I – a historic move that’s now known as the Union of the Crowns.

1644 - Scottish Excise Duty

Recorded introduction of a tax for Aqua Vitae.

1707 - The Act of Union

In 1707 The Act of Union brought Scotland even closer to Britain by creating a single Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain at the Palace of Westminster.

1746 - Battle of Culloden

The Battle of Culloden in 1746 was the final Jacobite rising and the last battle fought on British soil. The Jacobites were no match for the Hanoverian army – the battle lasted just an hour and the army was brutally crushed.

1746 - Highland Clearances

Shortly after the defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden, a period known as the Highland Clearances began. A number of laws were introduced in an attempt to assimilate the Highlanders; wearing traditional tartan attire was banned and clan chiefs had their rights to jurisdiction removed.

1750 ONWARDS - The Age of Enlightenment

The ideas from philosophers living in Scotland during The Age of Enlightenment shaped the modern world. The intellectual movement sought to understand the natural world and the human mind and ranged across philosophy, chemistry, geology, engineering, technology, poetry, medicine, economics and history. Figures like Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Adam Smith, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott are still celebrated for their achievements.

1759 Birth of Robert Burns

Scotland’s National Poet. Burn’s Night is celebrated on the 25th January with the obligatory Haggis across the World.

1800 - Urban and Industrial Scotland

Industrial advances and wealth accumulated from the trade of tobacco, sugar and cotton bring about the dawn of urban Scotland at the turn of the 19th century. The country shifted from rural to urban, and huge towns, massive factories and heavy industry took hold. Mining, shipbuilding and textiles were very important to Scotland’s development during this time.

1823 – Excise Duty on Distilling

A £10 fee and Excise Duty was applied to all stills and distilleries. Many stills were made illegal, and smuggling became a major industry. There were many whisky smugglers with illicit whisky stills. These was slowly eradicated and a few of today’s major whisky brands were historically smugglers - until they became legal.

1914 - First World War

Scottish soldiers played a significant role in the First World War and Glasgow’s Clyde side was an important centre during the war as well – products from the shipyards, steel works and iron foundries were vital to the war effort.

1939 – Second World War

Again, Scotland played a major role in terms of soldiers, shipyards, farming and armament.

1967 - North Sea Oil

The drilling of the first North Sea oil well was considered a major industrial achievement of the time, creating a huge supporting industry in Scotland and giving the UK access to oil made at home for the first time.

1999 - Scottish Parliament reconvenes

The calls for more devolved powers had been growing for decades and resulted in a referendum in 1979. A second referendum was held in September 1997, with the vote delivering greater powers. In 1999 the Scottish Parliament reconvened for the first time in nearly 300 years, ushering in a new era for the Scottish people. The Scottish Parliament building at the foot of the Royal Mile officially opened on October 9, 2004.

|2014 - Road to Referendum

In 2012, the Edinburgh Agreement was signed by Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. It paved the way for a once in a generation referendum on Scottish independence in 2014 by confirming the Scottish Parliament’s power to hold a vote that will be respected by both governments.

On the 18 September 2014, the people of Scotland voted. In response to the question, 'Should Scotland be an independent country', 1,617,989 (45%) voted Yes and 2,001,926 (55%) voted No.

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