Most people who haven’t been to Scotland would probably come up with completely different answers when asked what they know about the country. Kilts, bagpipes, Sir Robert Burns, castles, the Highlands, haggis and either a lake monster or a unicorn. But there are more interesting Scotland facts that you need to know.
There’s more about Scotland though than those quirky but wonderful things that are often associated with the country. There’s a rich history, a fascinating culture, and delightful contributions to the modern world. This country’s landscapes, the abundance of castles, certain urban legends and even their national animal does give the impression of it being mysterious or downright odd.
However, Scotland’s got a number of surprises, you’re about to find out more in this list of some cool facts about Scotland.
25 Cool Scotland Facts That You Need To Know
1. Golf started in Scotland and has been played here since the 15th century. St. Andrew’s in Scotland is even called the ‘home of golf’.
2. The Kingdom of Scotland maintained its independence for centuries until the signing of the Acts of Union on May 1, 1707. The Acts of Union joined Scotland with England, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
3. Scotland didn’t have its own parliament since it became part of the United Kingdom in 1707. It was only on July 1, 1999, that the country finally had its own legislative body.
4. After England, Scotland is the second biggest country in the United Kingdom with an area of 78,772 square kilometers (30,414 square miles).
5. Among all the other countries in the world, Scotland’s land area is about the same size as that of the Czech Republic, the Japanese island of Hokkaido, Panama, the United Arab Emirates and the state of Maine in the United States.
6. Scotland is composed of about 790 islands, but only 130 of these islands are inhabited.
7. Lakes in Scotland are called lochs, and more than 600 square miles of these lochs are spread all over the country. Among these lochs is the infamous Loch Ness.
8. However, despite the legends surrounding Loch Ness, it is not the deepest loch in Scotland. The loch that owns that distinction is Loch Morar which is 1,077 feet (328 meters ) deep, making it the seventeenth deepest lake in the world.
9. Scotland is famous for its fairytale-like and mystical castles, that even ruins look magnificent. There are around 3,000 of these castles scattered all over the country. The country is home to some of the oldest castles in the world, and the oldest, well-preserved castle dates back to the 11th and 13th century. Among the reasons why there are so many castles in Scotland is because each clan built at least one castle within their territory.
10. You will find the world’s tallest hedge in Scotland, specifically located close to Meikleour on the A93 Perth-Blairgowrie road. This hedge stands at 100 feet and is about 1,700 feet in length.
11. There are three languages in Scotland that are officially recognized namely, English, Scots, and Scottish Gaelic. English is the most widely used of the three while only one percent of the population speaks Scottish Gaelic.
12. Nope, it is not Ireland, but Scotland that has the highest number of redheads in the world. There are about 13% of the 5.2 million population that has red hair, which means that there are more than half a million redheads in the Scottish isles.
13. Scotland holds the distinction of hosting the very first international association football. Held at the West of Scotland Cricket ground in Partick in 1872, the match was between Scotland and England.
14. There was a time that football was banned in Scotland, courtesy of King James 1. The Football Act of 1424 states that ‘ Na man play at the fut ball’. It was obviously wasn’t heeded by the Scots as the country eventually became home to one of the most heated rivalries in the world of football. This was between the Celtics and Rangers at the Old Film Derby.
15. The Battle of Bannockburn against the English was won by the Scots in 1314. That victory headed by Robert the Bruce was how Scotland gained independence, therefore building a kingdom that lasted for centuries.
16. The film ‘Braveheart’ was taken from true events. The film’s main characters William Wallace and Robert the Bruce were real people and popular historical figures as much of the film were based on true historical events. William Wallace, in particular, played a significant role in the history of Scotland and is a National hero. Robert the Bruce meanwhile was responsible for the independence of Scotland in the early 1300s.
17. The Scots have a special way of celebrating their New Year. This event is called the Hogmanay, which is Scottish for ‘last day of the year’. It wasn’t known how it actually started but believed to be somewhat of Gaelic or Norse origins. Hogmanay is celebrated all over Scotland but the grandest is held in Edinburgh that people from all over the world go here to take part in it. Among the most popular feature of the event is the Torchlight procession, which is how they officially open Hogmanay.
18. A Glasgow born chemist named Charles Macintosh invented the raincoat in 1824. Up to this day, the garment is still called ‘Mac’ in Great Britain.
19. Scotland pretty much invented the modern world as more Scots contributed to communications and technology as well as medicine. The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, the television was a brainchild of John Logie Baird in 1925 while Alexander Fleming came up with the penicillin in 1928.
20. Meanwhile, many of the things often associated with Scotland such as kilts, tartans, and bagpipes were not originally from this country. Kilts were from Ireland, tartans were in Central Europe as early as the Bronze Age, while bagpipes were believed to have originated from Central Asia.
21. Haggis is the most infamous Scottish dish. They are made with the sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, spiced and rolled to resemble short fat sausages. The origin of the haggis was not known but history says a dish much like it was mentioned in Greek history 2,500 years ago. Haggis is considered Scotland’s national dish. Clearly not for vegans as it is made with sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, the haggis is often served with neeps and tatties as well as a Dram (glass of Scotch whiskey).
22. We’ve heard about the Loch Ness monster, and despite claimed sightings, none of it was quite accepted yet. There was an account of a sighting from the 6th century in the Life of St Columba, as well as photos that are often controversial. Nicknamed Nessie by the locals, the Loch Ness monster is said to look like the prehistoric Elasmosaur, a marine reptile with a long neck.
23. Aside from Nessie, another creature is said to lurk in the depths of Scotland’s lochs. This is said to be in Loch Morar, which is much deeper than Loch Ness at 1,000 feet in places. The ‘monster’ is called Morag, said to be 30 feet long, with rough brown skin and snakelike head. This creature is also said to be female and has allegedly attacked two fishermen in August 1969.
24. Apart from lake monsters, Scotland also seems to attract UFOs. Bonnybridge, a small Scottish town was recently called the world’s UFO capital as it has been known to have 300 sightings of an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) every year.
25. Or, maybe those sightings are said to be of unidentified flying objects because they are too bright and not easily distinguished. They could be something else, perhaps Scotland’s national animal — the unicorn. Yes, it’s true and quite odd but fascinating. Mythical creatures can be a country’s national animal, too, you know.