The traces of human-occupation in Scotland have dated back to 9600 BC when this nation was occupied by various clans that lived under a “communitarian system”. In 43 AD, when the Romans invaded Great Britain, they tried to take over Scotland but were met with fierce resistance, mainly from the native tribes, known back then as the Caledonians. Today, there are still traces relating to the “Roman Occupation”, Hadrian’s Wall is the most popular or famous.
Many invading nations also followed in Rome’s footsteps, including the neighboring English, and the seafaring Vikings. These would-be occupiers managed to obtain success in varying degrees in various parts of this country. The influence of these invaders is still prominent today in certain regions, including the Shetland Islands, where the Viking cultural identity is displayed proudly.
The Scotland that we know today, was originally founded in 843 AD. Its borders gradually expanded through an extensive history marred by bloody conflicts, both political and religious. This included the Wars of Scottish Independence, where William Wallace, of Braveheart fame, made a name for himself. The Scottish Reformation of 1560 is where a cathedral at St. Andrews was destroyed and where Scotland established itself as a Protestant, rather than a Roman Catholic nation. Many power struggles and squabbles with the English Crown also defined and impacted this period, where Scotland attempted to define its precise degree of autonomy from Great Britain.
At the start of the 18th century, the commerce sector exploded in Scotland during a period known as the Scottish Enlightenment. This is when Glasgow turned into among the greatest trading ports in the world. However, greed tainted this prosperous period and landlords ended up forcing tenants off their lands in a very bloody battle called the Highland Clearances.
At the same time, the educational system in Scotland flourished, which led to an era of “cultural dominance” whereby Scottish artists and inventors started exporting their products to many countries around the world.
After the deindustrialization that occurred in the 20th century, the economy in Scotland went through a hard time. This is where Scotland’s reputation that it once had as one of the economic powerhouses was almost forgotten.
Tensions with England continue to this very day in the way of “periodic calls” relating to independence. More recently, the voters rejected this proposal by a very slim margin (in the 2014 referendum). Today, the economy in Scotland is thriving again, but this time it is doing so in a very distinctly 21st-century manner. This nation has secured prosperity through a very well-deserved spot on modern travelers’ maps and oil extraction from the North Sea that also continues.
Scottish people are very proud when it comes to their culture. This may in part be due to hundreds of years of “attempted repression” by the English as well as many other invaders from foreign lands. Many Scots identify with an ancient Gaelic clan culture and this is signified and displayed through kilts that bear plaid patterns (traditional tartans) that identify the affiliation of the wearer.
The cultural achievements in Scotland are manifold, which includes the popular music of David Byrne, and a lot more recently, Calvin Harris to the writings of Irvine Welsh and Adam Smith.
Make no mistakes, though, Scotland is one of the modern countries, where the younger generation identifies with local football or soccer clubs, or some of the favorite bands, rather than the ancient clans. Glasgow is known for its thriving and exciting music scene, which includes multiple massive outdoor festivals, and a very lively and vibrant drinking culture.
Young Scots are known for being effusive and fun-loving, which shatters the stereotypical type of the stoic, dour Scot that was once widespread a couple of decades ago. So, after hearing all this why not book Scottish hotels and enjoy the culture, entertainment and stunning scenery that Scotland has to offer.
Backroads Pro Tip
Glasgow is the home to many music festivals that can be enjoyed throughout the year. These range from massive to small and these music events encompass just about every genre you can think of. If you are interested in planning your next trip to Scotland around a musical event, ensure that you book really early. The music scene in Scotland has exploded, and the available accommodation has not yet caught up.
Good To Know
When you travel to Scotland, here are a few good tips to keep in mind:
Even though the tipping culture is not as popular in Scotland as it is in the U.S, a 10% tip is still the standard for most situations. For sit-down restaurants and taxis, 10% is standard, for meals in pubs, these customs are less rigid, so use your own judgment.
Unlike in the U.S., there is no requirement or obligation to tip when it comes to casual situations, which include just buying a beer or at a self-serve café.
• Public Behavior
While people in Scotland tend to be more reserved when compared to other Europeans. In most cases, they are generally fun-loving, lively people. Heavy drinking is something that is quite common, particularly among the younger Scots, and for most people, going out for an evening is usually always about social gatherings.
Don’t expect that they will invite you over on the first day they have met you, but the majority of travelers often find that Scottish people are open and welcoming once you build friendships with them.
Scotland also uses the plugs that the United Kingdom uses, which will mean that travelers from the U.S., or mainland Europe, should travel with a converter if they need to charge devices.
• Public Bathrooms
There aren’t many public bathroom facilities in Edinburgh, Glasgow, or anywhere else in this country. You will need to purchase a beer or coffee if you want to use a bathroom at a gas station, or in a pub or restaurant.
• Drinking Water
Water in Scotland is regarded as safe for consumption.
Similar to other parts of the United Kingdom, Scotland also uses the pound sterling. Travelers shouldn’t have any issues using international credit cards in most major cities. But rural travelers are advised to rather carry cash (just to be safe).