and enjoy Scotland's splendour. The
Scottish Highlands and Islands are Europe's last great wilderness
so why not escape with Rabbie's personalised small group tours.
Get off the beaten track and discover the secrets of Scotland.
promises to get you in touch with the people, places, history
and legends of Scotland and deliver you a unique and memorable
experience to last you a lifetime.
Scotland in Prehistory
is known to have been inhabited for about 6-8000 years, with successive
waves of settlers and invaders. Celts from North-West Europe arrived
about 500BC. They were called Britons by the later invading Romans.
Although these temporary conquerors referred to the northern lands
above the line of the Forth and Clyde as Caledonia, they alternatively
named the northern tribes Picts and all of these terms are used
today in describing the early history of Scotland. The name Scotland
derives from the Scoti, another Celtic tribe, who came from Ireland
and in the 5th and 6th centuries had settled on the western seaboard
in present-day Argyll in sufficient numbers to form the Kingdom
of Dalriada. They spoke Gaelic.
Towards the Wars of Independence
first thousand years AD is a story of warfare in which the peoples
of Scotland - Scot, Pict, Briton and Anglian - gradually came together.
By 843AD a united Scottish/ Pictish kingdom had emerged. In 1018,
the Northern English were defeated at the Battle of Carham and the
border came to be fixed along the River Tweed. By 1034, the Strathclyde
Britons were added to the larger kingdom, making it much the same
shape as Scotland today.
1070, King Malcolm III married Margaret, grand-daughter of Edward
the Confessor of England - one of many occasions when the Royal
Houses of England and Scotland were interlinked by marriage.
influences (following the Norman Conquest of England) gradually
spread to Scotland. Anglo-Norman families, with names like Graham
or Bruce, settled. In 1286 the death of King Alexander III precipitated
a crisis of succession in what had been a trouble-free and prosperous
time for Scotland. With close marriage ties between England and
Scotland, King Edward I of England was asked to mediate in the dispute.
He chose a puppet-king, but later invaded in 1295. William Wallace,
the first of Scotland s freedom fighters, defeated occupying English
at Stirling Bridge in 1297, but his army was defeated the next year.
Robert the Bruce (King Robert I) was defiantly crowned at Scone
in 1306. His campaign eventually led to the Battle of Bannockburn
in 1314, when English forces were cleared from Scotland. In 1320
the Scots drew up a Declaration of Independence at Arbroath Abbey.
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The Stewart Kings
the Treaty of Northampton in 1328, England finally accepted Scotland's
independence, but the death of King Robert I in 1329 led to another
crisis of succession - a theme which is repeatedly found in Scotland
s story. The Stewart dynasty which eventually followed were characterised
by either dying too young, or being too weak, or making fatal military
errors. For the next two hundred years, the Scots kingdom was torn
by powerful factions and damaged by defeats by English forces: at
Dupplin Moor in 1332, Halidon Hill in 1332 and in consequence of
a French alliance, Neville s Cross, 1346. Scottish kings David II
and James I both spent time captive in England. James II was involved
in internal struggles with the powerful Douglas family, then was
killed at the siege of Roxburghe Castle in 1460. James III subdued
the Lords of the Isles (Clan Donald) but was killed by rebellious
nobles in 1488. James IV, often reckoned to be the best of the Stewart
kings, ruled wisely, but revived a French alliance, took up arms
in their cause against England and, in consequence Scotland suffered
her worst defeat against England in 1513 at Flodden.
links continued in the 16th century, with James V making two French
marriages, continuing to support France and in consequence causing
the nation to suffer defeat once more at Solway Moss in 1542. The
last battle of the national armies was in 1547 when the Scots lost
again at Pinkie - the culmination of a bloody campaign known as
"the Rough Wooing". This was the English King Henry VIII
s attempt to marry off his young son to the even younger Mary, Queen
of Scots, and hence to unite the kingdoms.
Queen of Scots was perhaps Scotland s most controversial historical
figure, in the centre of a troubled religious period known as the
Reformation. John Knox was one of the leading Reformers, taking
part in the anti-French and anti-Papal revolution and later becoming
the minister of Edinburgh. Mary was the mother of King James VI.
Through the continuing blood-links with the English Royal Family
over the centuries - for example, King James IV had married Margaret
Tudor, sister of King Henry VIII of England - James inherited the
English Crown in 1603. He became King James I of England and, finding
the office more rewarding, moved south, to return only once to Scotland,
Scotland and England were troubled by religious wars in the 17th
century. After an attempt to introduce Episcopalian practices to
the Presbyterian church in 1637 by King Charles I, many Scots signed
the National Covenant in opposition. They were known as Covenanters.
However, the Scots support for King Charles II led to invasion and
occupation by Oliver Cromwell s Parliamentary forces 1650-60. Opposition
and brutality towards Covenanters continued 1660-90, during the
time of King James VII (II of England).
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brutality against the Covenanters only ended following the English
revolution against James VII/II when his daughter Mary and her Protestant
husband William of Orange were invited to take the British throne
because of James VII/II Catholic principles. The reign of William
and Mary established a new religious tolerance and the last Stewart
opposition came to an end at the Battle of Killiecrankie (1689)
when their general Graham of Claverhouse (Bonnie Dundee) was killed.
When James VII/II fled to Europe, his supporters became known as
Jacobites (Latin: Jacobus - James). The Highland clans, many of
whom were Catholic like the deposed king, were seen as a potential
source of instability, a hotbed of Jacobitism. (This was not just
a Scottish movement - Catholic nations such as France and Spain
were involved in the Europe-wide political game). Clans were forced
to swear an oath of allegiance - and the slowness with which one
branch of the MacDonalds responded led to the Massacre of Glencoe
first major Jacobite rebellion was in 1715, indecisively led by
the Earl of Mar (called "Bobbin John" from his habit of
bobbing, ie changing sides in his political career). Then came the
minor rebellion of 1719, during which time Eilean Donan Castle was
destroyed by bombardment by the British Navy and a party of Spanish
troops were defeated by government forces in nearby Glen Shiel.
Finally, came the most disastrous rising, for the Highlands in 1745.
The 45 was led by Prince Charles Edward Stuart, grandson of King
these Jacobite episodes, Scotland moved into a more mercantile age.
Inspired by England s trading successes overseas, the Scots decided
to found an overseas colony, thereby incurring the displeasure of
England, anxious about competition. This was the ill-fated Darien
Scheme on the isthmus of Panama. When severe difficulties were encountered
by the expedition in 1698, England forbade any of its colonies nearby
to help and also allowed Spanish forces to attack. The colony was
abandoned. Both small merchants and grand nobility had sunk money
in the scheme which reduced Scotland to virtual bankruptcy.
the arrangement of one monarch (in London) and two parliaments (London
and Edinburgh) was proving unstable. The Scots disagreed with English
parliamentary decisions about the crown s succession. They threatened
to recall the Stewart king, waiting in Europe. England responded
with economic sanctions. Poverty-stricken Scotland needed free trade.
England, involved in a French war, could not afford a pro-Jacobite
neighbour (ie sympathetic to France) on her northern border. The
result was the Treaty of Union, reinforced by an English army under
General Wade placed at Newcastle near the Scottish border, should
the Scots be reluctant to accept it. Scotland thus lost its independence
in 1707. The Scots Parliament ceased to meet. For the English Parliament,
business continued as usual, except there was now a Scottish representation.
noted above, Jacobite rebellions did flare up during this period,
even after the two nations were united. However, by the time the
Young Chevalier - Prince Charles Edward Stuart or Bonnie Prince
Charlie - landed in Scotland in 1745, gathered a mainly Highland
army and took it as far south as Derby in England, Scotland was
becoming more concerned with commerce and many Scots may have regarded
the Prince s cause as a sideshow. Nevertheless, after his defeat
at the Battle of Culloden - a battle fought between the British
Government army (for whom many Scots fought) and mainly Highland
Jacobites, the authorities decided that the Highland way of life
should be changed forever.
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Towards Modern Scotland
consequence, the wearing of Highland dress and the carrying of weapons
was forbidden for several years afterwards.
the breakdown of the clan system many new landlords and landowners
took over in the Highlands, introducing new economic measures, including
widespread sheep grazing. Many clansmen emigrated to the New World.
Around the beginning of the 19th century, the Romantic movement
in the arts began to rate picturesque scenery very highly. The image
of the wild Highlander underwent a "rehabilitation" further
encouraged by the works of writers such as Sir Walter Scott, then
gaining a seal of approval when Queen Victoria chose the Highlands
for her summer home at Balmoral on Deeside.
Highlands became fashionable as a sporting playground, with large
areas given over to deer. This was one important factor in the Highland
Clearances, a brutal series of evictions carried out widely in the
Highlands, from Perthshire to Sutherland as well as Skye, the Western
Isles and also Shetland. This uprooting and scattering across the
world of Gaeldom was carried out by landowners for economic reasons:
sheep were more profitable than tenants, while sporting estates
required their red deer undisturbed by native farming and herding
the landlords cleared their estates, a revolution of sorts was taking
hold in the big cities of Lowland Scotland. Culloden and the defeat
of the Jacobites had ensured that the British system of Government
and its mercantile economy was safe, and this in turn led to a boom
in industry, innovation and oversees expansion. As Great Britain's
Empire began to spread all over the globe the pace of growth in
the home country intensified, and the populations of cities like
Glasgow and Dundee exploded. Britain became the world's first industrialised
country and Scotland stood at the very forefront. Glasgow and the
Clyde valley soon became the engine room of the Empire, famed for
the steel and iron works, and above all ship-building. Dundee became
the world centre of the Jute industry and Perth the home of Scotch
whisky and wool dying. But it was Scotland's capital that would
see the greatest changes. The city's population, once crammed onto
the Royal Mile burst forth in all directions. As the wealth poured
into the city a New Town was built to the north of the Old to reflect
this new order, and the influx of intellectuals into Edinburgh earned
her the name 'The Athens of the North'. This period was to be known
as the 'Enlightenment', and Edinburgh was recognised the world over
as a great seat of learning, especially in the field of medicine.
1900, Britain stood at the zenith of its power, covering a quarter
of the globe with the Union Jack. Industrial output in Scotland
was at its height, and 2 out of every 3 ships sailing the oceans
was built on the Clyde, and even in the Highlands improvements had
brought the dreaded clearances to an end. It seemed as if nothing
could go wrong. Black clouds, however, loomed heavy on the horizon.
Scots, especially the Highlanders, have long been famed as fighting
men, and as the country was dragged into the horrors of the 1st
World War, the Scots again took to arms for King and Country. Scotsmen
from every corner of the country signed up to their local regiments,
and were sent to the carnage of the western front. The Scotland
that emerged from the 1918 Armistice was a very different place
250 years of dominance from London, some in Scotland believed that
the time had come to cut the shackles of 'England' and create a
fully independent Scotland, as had happened in Ireland. However,
the vast majority of people still believed in the concept of Britain,
and union with England. After the 2nd World War Scotland's industrial
decline coincided with the fall of the British Empire - factories
and shipyards closed and unemployment rocketed - more and more joined
the call for independence, or at least some form of devolution.
The discovery of oil in the North Sea in the late 1960s, and Britain's
joining of the EEC in 1973 gave the Scottish Nationalists and independence
an air of viability, and in 1978 the Labour Government asked the
people of Scotland if they wanted a devolved Government in a referendum.
It was a close run thing, but still not enough people were willing
to take the leap of faith. However 18 years of Conservative Government
rule from London caused many Scots to feel disenfranchised. Election
after election Scotland returned a minority of Conservative MPs
in its 72 Parliamentary constituencies, yet they continued to be
ruled by a Conservative Government. Following on from their victory
in the 1997 election the new Labour Government held another referendum
asking the Scots if they wanted a devolved Parliament. This time
Scotland spoke loud and clear in favour, and in 1999 the Queen opened
Scotland's first Parliament in nearly 300 years. Scotland remains
an integral part of the United Kingdom, but most local decisions
are now taken in the heart of Edinburgh rather than London.
to rent in Edinburgh