Scotland (Scots: Scotland, Scottish Gaelic: Alba [ˈal̪ˠapə] ()) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom.Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a 96-mile (154 km) border with England to the southeast and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast and the Irish Sea to the south.
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People lived in Scotland for at least 8,500 years before Britain's recorded history.At times during the last interglacial period (130,000–70,000 BC) Europe had a climate warmer than today's, and early humans may have made their way to Scotland, with the possible discovery of pre-Ice Age axes on Orkney and mainland Scotland.
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The mainland of Scotland makes up ⅓ of the size of the Great Britain, and is to the northwest of mainland Europe. The size of the land of Scotland is 78,772km² (30,414 sq mi). Scotland's only land border is with England, and runs for 96 kilometres (60 mi) across. The Atlantic Ocean borders the west coast and the North Sea is to the east. The island of Ireland is only 30 kilometres (20 mi) from the southern part of Kintyre, Norway is 305 kilometres (190 mi) to the east and the Faroe Islands are 270 kilometres (168 mi) to the north. Scotland's land also includes several islands, including the Inner and Outer Hebrides off the west coast and the archipelagoes of Orkney and Shetlandto the north of the mainland. Compared to the other areas of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, Scotland is sparsely populated, most especially the north-western half of it. The main geographical feature that dictates this is the Highland Boundary Faultwhich roughly splits the country in half from the s...
The history of Scotland begins when humans first began to live in Scotland after the end of the last ice age. Of the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age civilization that existed in the country, many fossils remain, but no written records were left behind. These people did not have writing. St Kilda, Heart of Neolithic Orkney and Skara Brae are all World Heritage Sites, as are the Antonine Wall and New Lanarkon the mainland. Because of where Scotland is in the world and its strong reliance on trade routes by sea, the nation held close links in the south and east with the Baltic countries, and through Ireland with France and Europe. The sea was very important for trade reasons. Following the Acts of Union and Industrial Revolution, Scotland grew to be one of the largest commercial, intellectual and industrial states in Europe.
The official languages of Scotland are English, Scots and Gaelic. English is spoken by most people in Scotland, while only a small number, mostly in the Western Isles, speaks Gaelic. Gaelic began declining in the late Middle Ageswhen Scottish kings and nobles preferred English.
Football is the most popular sport in Scotland. Three of the big cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee, have two or three big football teams, and most cities have at least one team. The two most famous teams in Scotland are known as the "Old Firm". These are Celtic and Rangers. These two Glasgow clubs have a lot of history, and are fierce rivals, often causing fights, riots and even murders between the fans. Rangers are world record holders, having won the most amount of league titles of any...
In 1925, 1984 and 1990, Scotland were winners of the Five Nations' Gran Slam, having beaten all four other teams - England, Wales, Ireland and France.
Golf is a popular sport in Scotland. It is unique, as Scotland is the birthplace of golf, and there are many public golf courses where people can play for small fees. Everywhere else in the world, golf is a game for the rich. Sandy Lyle was the first Scottish golfer to win a major title in modern times. Colin Montgomeryis one of the best players never to have won a major championship after finishing second five times.
Traditional Scottish musical instruments include: the bagpipe, accordion, the fiddle, the harp and tin whistle.
From the 5th century AD, north Britain was divided into a series of petty kingdoms. Of these, the four most important were those of the Picts in the north-east, the Scots of Dál Riata in the west, the Britons of Strathclyde in the south-west and the Anglian kingdom of Bernicia (which united with Deira to form Northumbria in 653) in the south-east, stretching into modern northern England.
Scotland and England are the oldest national football teams in the world. Teams representing the two sides first competed at the Oval in five matches between 1870 and 1872. . The two countries contested the first official international football match, at Hamilton Crescent in Partick, Scotland, on 30 November 1
For the community in Pennsylvania, see Scotland, Pennsylvania. Scotland, PA is a 2001 film directed and written by William Morrissette. It is a modernized version of William Shakespeare 's Macbeth. The film stars James LeGros, Maura Tierney, and Christopher Walken.
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Various theories have been proposed for the word Kilda's origin, which dates from the late 16th century. No saint is known by the name. Haswell-Smith (2004) notes that the full name St Kilda first appears on a Dutch map dated 1666, and that it might have been derived from Norse sunt kelda ("sweet wellwater") or from a mistaken Dutch assumption that the spring Tobar Childa was dedicated to a saint. (Tobar Childa is a tautological placename, consisting of the Gaelic and Norse words for well, i.e., "well well"). Martin Martin, who visited in 1697, believed that the name "is taken from one Kilder, who lived here; and from him the large well Toubir-Kilda has also its name". Maclean (1972) similarly suggests it comes from a corruption of the Old Norse name for the spring on Hirta, Childa, and states that a 1588 map identifies the archipelago as Kilda. He also speculates that it refers to the Culdees, anchorites who might have brought Christianity to the island, or be a corruption of the G...
The islands are composed of Tertiary igneous formations of granites and gabbro, heavily weathered by the elements. The archipelago represents the remnants of a long-extinct ring volcano rising from a seabed plateau approximately 40 metres (130 ft) below sea level. At 670 hectares (1,700 acres) in extent, Hirta is the largest island in the group and comprises more than 78% of the land area of the archipelago. Next in size are Soay (English: "sheep island") at 99 hectares (240 acres) and Boreray ('the fortified isle'), which measures 86 hectares (210 acres). Soay is 0.5 kilometres (0.31 mi) north-west of Hirta, Boreray 6 kilometres (4 mi) to the northeast. Smaller islets and stacks in the group include Stac an Armin ('warrior's stack'), Stac Lee ('grey stack') and Stac Levenish ('stream' or 'torrent'). The island of Dùn ('fort'), which protects Village Bay from the prevailing southwesterly winds, was at one time joined to Hirta by a natural arch. MacLean (1972) suggests that the arch...
It has been known for some time that St Kilda was continuously inhabited for two millennia or more, from the Bronze Age to the 20th century. In 2015, the first direct evidence of earlier Neolithic settlement emerged, shards of pottery of the Hebridean ware style, found to the east of the village. The subsequent discovery of a quarry for stone tools on Mullach Sgar above Village Bay led to finds of numerous stone hoe-blades, grinders and Skaill knives[note 4] in the Village Bay cleitean, uniqu...
14th to 17th century
The first written record of St Kilda may date from 1202 when an Icelandic cleric wrote of taking shelter on "the islands that are called Hirtir". Early reports mentioned finds of brooches, an iron sword and Danish coins, and the enduring Norse place names indicate a sustained Viking presence on Hirta, but the visible evidence has been lost. In the late 14th century John of Fordun referred to it as 'the isle of Irte (insula de Irte), which is agreed to be under the Circius and on the margins o...
Visiting ships in the 18th century brought cholera and smallpox. In 1727, the loss of life was so high that too few residents remained to man the boats, and new families were brought in from Harris to replace them.[note 6] By 1758 the population had risen to 88 and reached just under 100 by the end of the century. This figure remained fairly constant from the 18th century until 1851, when 36 islanders emigrated to Australia on board the Priscilla, a loss from which the island never fully reco...
Visits to St Kilda were encouraged until facilities closed due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemicin 2020; as of early February 2021 the toilets, camp site and shopping facilities on Hirta were all closed. The NTS has improved the village on Hirta over the years. "They have reroofed the cottages on the main street, restored the church, and re-stacked stones that years of gales had toppled from the cleits, or bothies, that dot the volcanic landscape". One cottage, #3 on "The Street" has been more extensively restored and turned into the museum. However, a full restoration of the other cottages is not expected.The Historic Environment Scotland website states that "the plain, two-bay church, with the schoolroom added to its north west in 1898" was "restored as they might have appeared in the 1920s". The site also explains that the "arrangement of St Kilda Village along a curving street is the result of mid-19th century improvement ... Distinctive drystone storage structures, known as cl...
The oldest structures on St Kilda are the most enigmatic. Large sheepfolds lie inland from the existing village at An Lag Bho'n Tuath (English: the hollow in the north) and contain curious 'boat-shaped' stone rings, or 'settings'. Soil samples suggest a date of 1850 BC, but they are unique to St Kilda, and their purpose is unknown. In Gleann Mòr, (north-west of Village Bay beyond Hirta's central ridge), there are 20 'horned structures', essentially ruined buildings with a main court measuring...
A medieval village lay near Tobar Childa, about 350 metres (1,150 ft) from the shore, at the foot of the slopes of Conachair. The oldest building is an underground passage with two small annexes called Taigh an t-Sithiche (house of the faeries) which dates to between 500 BC and 300 AD. The St Kildans believed it was a house or hiding place, although a more recent theory suggests that it was an ice house. Extensive ruins of field walls and cleitean and the remnants of a medieval 'house' with a...
Post Medieval structures
The Head Wall was built in 1834 when the medieval village was abandoned and a new one planned between Tobar Childa and the sea some 700 feet (200 m) down the slope. This came about as the result of a visit by Sir Thomas Dyke Ackland, one of the members of parliament for Devon. Appalled by the primitive conditions, he gave money for the building of a completely new settlement of thirty new blackhouses. These houses were made of dry stone, had thick walls, and were roofed with turf. Each typica...
St Kilda is a breeding ground for many important seabird species. One of the world's largest colonies of northern gannets, totalling 30,000 pairs, amount to 24 per cent of the global population. There are 49,000 breeding pairs of Leach's petrels, up to 90 per cent of the European population; 136,000 pairs of Atlantic puffins, about 30 per cent of the UK total breeding population, and 67,000 northern fulmar pairs, about 13 per cent of the UK total. Dùn is home to the largest colony of fulmars...
On the inaccessible island of Soay are sheep of a unique type, which lived as feral animals and belonged to the owner of the islands, not to the islanders. These Soay sheep are believed to be remnants of the earliest sheep kept in Europe in the Neolithic Era, and are small, short-tailed, usually brown with white bellies, and have naturally moulting fleeces. About 200 Soay sheep remain on Soay itself, and soon after the evacuation a second feral population of them was established on Hirta, whi...
On his death on 14 August 1956, the Marquess of Bute's will bequeathed the archipelago to the National Trust for Scotland provided they accepted the offer within six months. After much soul-searching, the Executive Committee agreed to do so in January 1957. The slow renovation and conservation of the village began, much of it undertaken by summer volunteer work parties. In addition, scientific research began on the feral Soay sheep population and other aspects of the natural environment. In 1957 the area was designated a national nature reserve. In 1986 the islands became the first place in Scotland to be inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for its terrestrial natural features. In 2004, the WHS was extended to include a large amount of the surrounding marine features as well as the islands themselves. In 2005 St Kilda became one of only two dozen global locations to be awarded mixed World Heritage Status for both 'natural' and 'cultural' significance. The islands share this h...Atkinson, Robert Island going to the remoter isles, chiefly uninhabited, off the north-west corner of Scotland, William Collins, 1949. (Reprinted Birlinn, 1995 ISBN 1-874744-31-9)Charnley, Bob Last Greetings of St. Kilda, Richard Stenlake, 1989 ISBN 1-872074-02-2Coates, Richard The Place-Names of St. Kilda, Edwin Mellen Press, 1990 ISBN 0-88946-077-9Crichton, Torcuil (26 June 2005) "The Last of the St Kildans". Glasgow. Sunday Herald. A report of a surviving St Kildan re-visiting the islands.1930 – evacuation of St Kilda (29 August 1930) National Library of Scotland reprint of report from The Times. London. Retrieved 28 December 2007.Digitised manuscript map of St Kilda drawn by the Scottish civil engineer Robert Stevensonin approximately 1818Archive films about St Kilda from the Scottish Screen Archive at National Library of Scotland
Inverness is the location of Macbeth 's castle in Shakespeare's play. Inverness Library is located in Farraline Park, housed in what was originally the Bell's school, designed by William Robertson in the Greek Revival style. The school was built with help from a £10,000 donation from Dr Andrew Bell in 1837.