Caledonia, you're calling me...
"[A] notion has been entertained that the moral spine in Scotland is more flexible than in England. The truth however is, that an elementary difference exists in the public feelings of the two nations quite as great as in the idioms of their respective dialects. The English are a justice-loving people, according to charter and statute; the Scotch are a wrong-resenting race, according to right and feeling: and the character of liberty among them takes its aspect from that peculiarity."
—John Galtnote , Ringan Gilhaize (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1823) vol. 3, p. 313 note
This is Scotland - they still make fucking men up there.
Scotland is the country on the north of the British Isles. Historically an independent state, it was formally merged with England into Great Britain by a treaty in 1707. Its capital is Edinburgh (appointed as such in 1999, though it had been one for centuries prior to the 1707 treaty), while its largest city is the industrial center of Glasgow
Compare Canada, Eh?
(more "English" Canadians claim Scottish ancestry than any other. Make of that what you will.)
The most famous thing about Scotland (to people overseas) is the kilt
(the plural is "the kilt", by the way). These are mostly worn by men and have a variety of accessories, such as the sporran (a pouch worn on a loose belt) and a knife called Sgian Dubh ("Black Knife" in Gaelic), which can be carried in public (tucked into your over-the-calf sock) when worn with a kilt. A notable hat is the tam o'shanter, after a character in a Robert Burns
Often in American (and even English) television, all Scots wear the kilt all the time. It also seems to be believed that they often go without underwear
— especially when they compete in the Highland Games or when Highland Dancing. In reality you would almost never see a kilted person walking down the street, and if you do see one chances are he'd be on the way to a wedding or other festivities. Basically, in any situation where an American would wear a tuxedo, a Scotsman would wear a kilt. And underwear is actually required at the Highland Games and in Highland Dancing competitions! It's also a requirement to wear undergarments with rental kilts for far more grave reasons than embarrassment. Although if you own a kilt and are wearing it, it's far more common than is realised to go without underwear.note
It's more of a personal choice thing. You'll occasionally see a kilted person playing the bagpipes on certain high streets for charity or because they are part of an actual bagpiping club, but that's it.
In recent years this has changed somewhat, with some sport fans — mostly rugby and football — choosing to wear a casual version of the kilt and their team's jersey on the streets or to matches.
Private schoolgirls (mostly those in North America and a few other places) wear plaid skirts, which are not
kilts — they just look an awful lot like them.
A number of Scottish military regiments use the kilt in their dress uniform◊
, but have not seen action since 1940, not the least because of a very good and nightmare-tastic reason involving mustard gas puddles on the battlefieldnote
. During World War One
, the Black Watch (now part of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, but retaining their name as the 3rd Battalion of it) were supposedly dubbed "the Ladies from Hell" by the Germans for their fierceness in battle.
The stereotypical "kilts, bagpipes, thistles, Highland cows" view of Scotland is often referred to as "the shortbreid-tin version", after the packaging in which shortbread biscuits/cookies are marketed to tourists.
The familiar feudal system which we know from Ivanhoe
and King Arthur
and which comes to mind when we think of the phrase "Middle Ages" was actually far more limited in scope in history. In any case it only took partial root in Scotland. Instead, especially in the Highlands and the borderlands, feudalism was rather light and merged with the Celtic/Early Medieval pseudofamilial societies that we call The Clan
. There were several reasons for this, not least of which is that Scotland, unlike England, was never conquered by the Normansnote
and retained much of its Celtic base.
A Clan was a tribal network named after its first patron. It included the chief, the clan elders and the clansfolk which were often the tenants of the chief as well. Each Clan operated like an independent principality — for instance, the MacDonalds, who held the title "Lords of the Isles" (i.e., Hebrides) were a great sea power in their own right, and had history been just a little bit different, they could have been an independent power or subjected to the Norwegian Crown. Several larger Clans could field several thousand warriors. The system ingrained itself into Scottish life and was a referent for delicate matters of internal politics. For instance one King of Scots, when deciding how the Roma
should be integrated into the system, simply declared one of them "Chief of the Egyptians" (Gypsies), effectively declaring them a new Clan. Another example is the title of the Scottish monarch, which is tribal rather then feudal in concept. The proper title is King (or Queen) of Scots. That is, the Queen of Scots (known more commonly by her English title Elizabeth II
) is not the Lady of a manor named ScotLAND of which "Scotsfolk" are tenants; she is the chieftainess of a "clan of clans" named Scots
which happens to possess SCOTland as its patrimony.
The Clan system along the English border was slightly different from that in the Highlands, forged from constant warfare with England, and which lasted even after (roughly) amiable relations were established during the reign of Elizabeth of England
and James VI of Scotland
(of course, how nasty can you get with your most acceptable likely heir?).note
When James succeeded his second-degree aunt, placing the kingdoms under the same ruler for the first time, the Border clans were ethnically cleansed. After that they tended to be resettled in areas where highly ferocious people could be out of sight of Westminster, but not out from indigenous peoples whom the Crown also found inconvenient. In Ireland they formed much of the ancestry of the Ulstermen. In North America they became the "Scots-Irish", settling in the Appalachians and further West, thus presaging the famous anti-gub'mint orneriness of these regions. The Highland Clans took longer to subdue. They tended to take the side of the House of Stuart in the various civil wars and were almost eliminated culturally after the Battle of Culloden in 1745. They were saved by two quirks of history. One was that it was realised that Highlanders made for useful soldiers and were as apt to serve the Crown as to rebel against it. The other was the Romantic literary movement, notably as represented by Sir Walter Scott
. During this time ethnic exoticism became seen as colorful instead of dangerous, and the clans became fashionable in the ruling classes of Great Britain. Many of the customs we associate with the Clans in fact date from this period. For instance, the Tartans, or clan heraldry on the kilts, were in fact not standardized until this period. In another way, however, this was a bad time for the Highlands, as it was the time of the notorious Clearances in which landholders were evicting tenants for the sake of changing agricultural products; the largest landowners were of course their own chiefs who found that in a now pacified Scotland there was more status to be had from wealth than the number of followers (to be fair a few chiefs actually beggared themselves trying to protect their clans from economic conditions). Some of the evicted tenants survived by migration to North America (particularly Canada) and other places; others survived from the pay for soldiering
and related work across The British Empire
Many began moving to Lowland cities, which thanks to the political and economic Union enacted in 1707 were beginning to experience the first stirrings of the Industrial Revolution
. The Lowland Scots, being Presbyterians, had found much in common with the English Dissenters — Baptists, Congregationalists, Quakers, Unitarians, and of course Presbyterians
— who, except for the Quakers, were (like the Scottish Presbyterians) essentially Calvinist, agreeing for the most part on theology and differing in practice; and as for the Quakers, despite their weird theory and practice, their businesslike, hardworking, and agreeable ethos combined with the common experience of High Church Anglican disdain led most of the other Dissenters (English or Scottish) to give them a pass. The English Dissenters had pioneered the new industrial techniques,note
and eventually word of these new ideas came to the Lowland Scots, who began setting up their own factories and coming up with their own techniques.note
By the mid-19th century, the Lowlands were one of the most industrialised regions in the world—and were chock-full of labourers from the Highlands (and Ireland, but that's another matter), coming in via the new-built canals and railways. At this point, with so many people from all over Scotland not where they were before a mere thirty or forty years before, the Clan system had clearly become what it is today: more as a focus of identity then as the political system it once was.
It is a common fiction in Romantic depictions of Scotland to view the Clans as rugged individualists, fiercely pro-independence and pro-Stuart
. This is not necessarily the case. Many clans simply did not conform to the rural, Noble Savage
archetype created for them by later authors. Clans Campbell and Douglas enjoyed considerable influence and power within the urban government of Scotland pre and post Union. During the religious turmoil of the 16th and 17th centuries, many clans were happy to renounce the rule of the Pope. Similarly, many clans enthusiastically committed to Union with England and the equal prestige with the English aristocracy that this granted them. By the time the Jacobite rising of 1745 rolled around, the clans were split, when previously they had wholeheartedly supported the Stewarts. With the exception of the island and coastal clans, many stayed neutral during the Stewart conflict or supported the Government. Notably, of the largest and most powerful clans, the Campbells, the Douglases, the MacLeods, the MacDonalds, and the Mackenzies, all except the Mackenzies and MacDonalds stayed loyal to the British government, with the MacDonalds joining Charles Stuart and the Mackenzies staying neutral.
As an interesting bit of trivia, the word "clan" is a transliteration from "children" in Gaelic. For instance the MacBobs would be the "Children of Bob". This is a system of clan/tribal nomenclature that is familiar in several parts of the world including the Middle East as readers of The Bible
(which is largely about the "Children of Israel") will remember.
On a day-to-day basis, Scots follow the same "meat and potatoes" diet as the rest of the UK/Western World. Nevertheless, traditional dishes still coexist happily with the modern internationalised diet, McDonald's, KFC, Starbucks and the rest.
Scotland does have the dubious distinction of eating almost as unhealthily as America. Scots will deep-fry anything that will stand still long enoughnote
, so it's not surprising that Scotland has some of the worst rates of heart disease and bowel cancer in the Western world (just behind America
Some Scottish foodstuffs include:
- Cock-a-leekie Soup: Yes, that's what it's called. Basically chicken, leek and potato soup. Really only memorable for the title, and that it originally contained prunes. Y'know, for the protein!
- Other famous Scottish soups include Scotch Broth (lamb, barley and vegetables) and Cullen Skink (fish and cream). Both of which are nice if made well from good ingredients.
- Haggis: "Great Chieftain o' the puddin' race", as Robert Burns put it. Probably the most widely recognised form of Scottish cuisine. A sheep's stomach stuffed with the rest of its innards, suet, and spices. Tastes far better than it sounds—the innards, suet, onion, and spices are ground up together before cooking, making it a kind of sausage (at which point sausage-loving foreigners' curiosity is piqued).note Also available in dumpling, sandwich, and (this being Scotland) deep-fried forms. God help us all.
- Demonstrating how traditional and international food can be deliciously merged: The Spicy Haggis Panini is a delicious sandwich, and Haggis Pakora is widely available in take-away restaurants around Glasgow. Haggis can basically be used wherever minced meat is used. It really works well in tomato-based dishes like Bolognese, Lasagne and Chilli-con-carne.
- Irn Bru: Pronounced "Iron Brew". Scotland's other national drink. Radioactive orange in color; alleged to have energy-giving properties, and to be made from girders. Believed to be a good cure for hangovers, which may explain its popularity. In fact, Scotland is one of three countries where Coke is not the biggest-selling soft drink, with Irn Bru being the most popular soft drink by a considerable margin.note
- Scotland's other other national drink is Red Kolanote which is pretty much the same as Irn Bru only instead of radioactive orange it is radioactive red. Pretty much anything you hear about Bru can be applied to Red Kola, with all the same caveats. Red Kola is most popular in Ayrshire and the surrounding, for the obvious reason that that is where Curries used to make the stuff before being bought out. Also available in a boiled sweet form which is called Red Kola Kubes.
- Deep-fried Mars Bars: Are actually real. They originated as a novelty item somewhere in some corner of darkest Scotland - although its true origins are shrouded in the mists of timenote - and have since spread to become a novelty item everywhere else: a kind of national joke and conspiracy, but if a tourist asks for one, he's getting one. (Note that what is marketed as a Mars bar in the UK more closely resembles the American Milky Way bar than the American Mars bar.) Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee all claim to have invented it.
- Scotch Pies: a Scottish institution even more than the 'White Pudding Supper'. If they went away, what would the football fans eat instead? It doesn't bear thinking about.
- The Macaroni Pie variant comes as a particular shock to tourists, who often find it difficult to wrap their heads around the idea.
- The Bridie is a meat pastry, resembling the more widely known Cornish pasty. The Forfar Bridie, a variety originating in the eponymous Angus town, uses shortcrust pastry, rather than the usual flaky pastry, which the inhabitants stubbornly maintain is the "true" recipe.
- The Scotch Egg, a hard-boiled egg that has been de-shelled, wrapped in sausage meat, rolled in breadcrumbs, and—yes—deep-fried. Contrary to popular belief, the Scotch Egg was actually invented in Victorian London, and the etymology is unconnected to Scotland.
- The Swally (beer&alcohol). Scotland also brews the official strongest beer in the world. It is made by the Brew Dog brewery, is 41% alcohol by volume (that is around 80 proof for those on old money) and called Sink the Bismarck.
- A note on Scottish beers, a weary traveller may find beers labelled as 60, 70, 80, or 90 Shilling. This due to a quirk of past Scottish licensing laws (The BBC has a good article here) Basically the lower the shilling, the weaker the beer. Lager is generally Tennents' (who used to put pictures of half naked women on their cans) and they do a lot of sponsorship of major events.
- As with Whisky (above) there are a number of microbreweries making specialist beers. Once again, sampling them all would be the work of a lifetime.
- Scotland also has number of Fruit Wine makers, most famous are probably Cairn O'Mohr (say it out-loud) and Moniack Castle.
- In Edinburgh, the local Caledonian Brewery (The Caley) is king of the beer market. Their most famous beers are Deuchar's IPA, McEwan's Export, and 80/-. All of these are fine drinks in their own right, and Edinburghers tend to get...evangelical...about how excellent they are.
- A tipple favored by those of an alcoholic persuasion (i.e, a great many people) is "Buckfast", a tonic wine dating back to the 1890s, which was originally marketed (as medicine) with the pithy slogan: "Three small glasses a day, for good health and lively blood". Because of its unique compositon and low price, Buckfast has since become associated with violence and anti-social behaviour - it is nicknamed "Commotion Lotion" and "Wreck the Hoosenote Juice".
- Square Sausage: Sausage. Shaped like a square. Also called a Lorne sausage. Can be eaten as breakfast, lunch or dinner; in the former cases, often combined with a roll. Can be sold in either refrigerated or frozen form; the latter has twice been mistaken for SemTex at English airport security, the second occasion being with the star of police drama Taggart. Needless to say, this was funny as hell.
Scotland Does Things Differently
The Scottish legal system has historically been different from that of England
, and the separate legal system was guaranteed by the 1707 treaty, and diverged a bit more with devolution (but not much, since the main change is that the same separate Scottish law is now mostly made at Holyrood, rather than Westminster: it's still the same law). This leads to various quirks in Scottish law, such as the fact that to this day there is no statute against fraud. Another interesting quirk is that in Scotland, there are three court verdicts: Proven, Not Proven (otherwise known as "not guilty and don't do it again" or the "bastard verdict"), and Not Guilty. Owing to the prevalence of Anglo-American media, very few people in Scotland know this. Also, Scots receive more tax per capita than the English, which has caused a degree of outcry in the past. The justification given is that Scotland has a greater amount of sparsely populated rural areas than England and as a result, fewer schools, hospitals, etc. are needed. Some also argue that, were it a separate nation, Scotland would rightfully claim enough of Britain's North Sea gas deposits — which are held by the Union as a whole — to offset this apparent imbalance. It has also been observed that certain areas of England receive a similarly above-average revenue, particularly the former industrial heartland Oop North
, which has suffered from a similar post-industrial depression in recent decades.
The Act of Union also guaranteed a separate Established (though not state) Church. The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian, the Free Church of Scotland (sometimes known as the "Wee Frees") has no established status but a religious monopoly in most of the Western Isles and is even more Presbyterian (they take "T' S-habbath" like Orthodox Jews). Then again there's the Free Church (Continuing), the Associated Presbyterian Church and the Free Presbyterian Church (the "Wee Wee Frees"), all of which broke off from one and other over the past three centuries, which is all a bit People's Front of Judea
. The Queen, official head of the Church of England (Episcopalian), is but a lay member of the Church of Scotland (albeit one who is the Church's designated "Protector") and somehow converts to a new religion every time she crosses the border. Incidentally, many members of the Royal Family lean towards the Church of Scotland rather than the Church of England; the Queen herself for one (possibly on account of her Scottish mother), and Queen Victoria was much the same.
The West of Scotland is also notorious for the sectarian feud between Catholics and Protestants, typically made manifest in the Old Firm: the bitter rivalry between Celtic and Rangers, Glasgow's most widely recognised football teams, with most Catholics aligning to the former and and Protestants the latter, and people asking "What team are you?" to ascertain one's religious denomination. Note that this question is also used by those of a less than social disposition as an indicator of whether or not you're allowed to live another day, and is always rhetorical — the correct answer is whichever team the enquirer supports, and wrong answers or attempts to Take a Third Option
often end in violence. A safe answer for the unsure is "Queen's Park", since, despite being one of Scotland's less-than-stellar teams, their home ground, Hampden Park, is the national stadium, and should instill enough patriotism in the attacker to allow you to escape to safer ground, or at least change the subject. Although present in other parts of Scotland such as Edinburgh and Dundee, nowhere else is the conflict so aggravated. It's also (far more prominently and scarily) present in Northern and even the Republic of Ireland.
There is a segment of Scottish society that wishes for independence. The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), the current ruling party of the devolved Scottish Parliament, bases its political platform around such a move, with an independence referendum held on 18th September 2014. Both nationalist Yes Scotland (led by Alex Salmond, at the time First Minister and leader of the SNP) and unionist Better Together (led by Alistair Darling of the Scottish Labour Party, and formerly Chancellor of the Exchequer under Gordon Brown
) accused each other of fact-twisting and propaganda. Most British news outlets (such as the BBC) are commonly believed to be biased against independence, although most of them — especially the BBC — firmly deny it. The "Yes" side is still seen as Braveheart
-watching England-haters, and the "No" side as Tories and other right-wingers who hate poor people and Scotland generally—there's a lot of history there. Finally, it's worth noting that the voting age for the referendum was pushed back to 16, compared to 18 for other elections in Scotland and the Union as a whole. The vote for under-16s is a reasonably hot topic, as one side claims young people will be easily swayed by propaganda instead of facts, while the other argues that it's a big decision for adults to be making over young people's lives.
On the 19th of September it was announced that the Scots voted in favour of staying in the Union, 55.3% against 44.7%, with an unusually (for Britain) high turnout of 84.6% — a fairly comfortable margin for the "No" side by any standard, but still narrow enough to shake things up a bit. A lot of people attributed this to the fact many businesses (including the Royal Bank of Scotland) threatened to leave Scotland if it became independent, not to mention promises by David Cameron
(and, oddly, emphasised by Brown, who, despite being hated by everyone after leaving Downing Street and having gone into semi-retirement as backbencher for his native Fife, proved to be their best advocate) to grant Scotland more devolutionary powers in exchange for choosing to stay. Salmond announced his resignation as First Minister the day after the results came in, stating he would not stand for reelection as SNP leader at the party conference in November. Meanwhile, the referendum has touched off a big debate about devolution not only for Scotland, but England as well, with many a Tory questioning certain asymmetries in the system that put England at a theoretical disadvantage, at the very least, in certain arenas (e.g., the West Lothian Question). With everyone more or less settled about further devolution for Scotland, the debate has now switched to the fate of England, between the Tories (who want devolution for the entire country) and Labour (who prefer regional devolution). Naturally, they think, respectively, that the Tories would be more or less in permanent control of an English Parliament, while Labour would at least have a chance of controlling some of the regional assemblies, e.g. Greater London and the North-West.
The Scottish Education system is also different, see British Education System
Glasgow has its own subway system, albeit much smaller than The London Underground
. It's nicknamed the Clockwork Orange for its colour, and the "Shoogly" for the ride quality. It's one big circle, with two lines running in opposite directions.
Finally, Scotland also has differing traditions for the holiday season. Christmas is traditionally less important (people working on Christmas Day is still quite common, and almost everyone is back at work by the 27th), with an increased emphasis on New Year's Eve (known as Hogmanay). Hogmanay is, more or less, a gigantic booze-up. Ceilidh music and the singing of Auld Lang Syne are also very common. Street parties are held - most famously in Edinburgh - and BBC Scotland
has an evening of programmes dedicated to it. Both New Year's Day and January 2nd are Bank Holidays
in Scotland, basically to deal with the almighty hangovers from Hogmanay. Hogmany programming traditionally revolved around the late, great Rikki Fulton's Last Call
monologue prior to the bells. Over time this has been replaced with Chewin' the Fat
and Still Game
specials and football-themed sketch show Only an Excuse
. The BBC
coverage is often mocked as consistently being downright awful for some unfathomable reason
Oh, and the Scots will take the piss out of just about anything. When England or America get hit by a Hurricane, they will give it a formal name. In Scotland? It will get named "Hurricane Bawbag"
. No. Really, We're not joking here.
See also Scotireland
, Violent Glaswegian
, Everything's Louder With Bagpipes
, Man in a Kilt
, Brave Scot
Scotland and Scottish characters in fiction
- Tintin - The Black Island
- Destro, weapons supplier of the evil Cobra organisation in G.I. Joe, is the scottish James Mc Cullen XXIV, and some battles have even happened in his family castle.
- Wolfsbane from X-Men. Also Moira McTaggert and her son, reality warper Proteus, a classic villain. Muir Island, where McTaggert lives, is a notable location and the setting for many important stories.
- Carl Barks's Scrooge McDuck. The ancestral McDuck lands were a part of the lowlands called "Dismal Downs", but by Scrooge's birth the family had long since decamped to Glasgow.
- Astérix: The story "Asterix and the Picts" takes place in Scotland.
- Jommeke: A recurring character is the Thrifty Scot Mic Mac Jampudding who walks around in a kilt, lives in a castle, has red hair and a large moustache and can get angry if taunted.
- Nero: Nero is visited by a traditional Scot in the album "Mr. Nobody".
- Suske en Wiske: Suske en Wiske visit Scotland in "De Knokkersburcht", where all of the clichés about the country are thrown together.
- De Kiekeboes: In "De Doedelzak van Mac Reel" a Scottish scientist named Mac Reel (pun on "mackrel") is introduced. He lives in a castle in Scotland, where he wears a kilt and plays the bagpipes.
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
- Casino Royale (1967)
- Star Trek - Montgomery Scott, the proudly Scottish chief engineer of the USS Enterprise.
- The World Is Not Enough (the funeral)
- The Wicker Man- original version.
- Made Of Honor
- Local Hero
- Gregory's Girl
- Four Weddings and a Funeral
- Whisky Galore
- Trainspotting (not the shortbread-tin version).
- Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster. Oh, god... Kilts, bagpipes, haggis, Nessie, horrible horrible accents... it just doesn't end!
- The Piano features Scottish characters but is set in New Zealand. Hence a lot of the accents suck massively.
- In the Loop has the 'Double Scotch' duo of Malcolm Tucker and Jamie MacDonald. Some of the best examples of Scottish swearing in cinema.
- Ironically, the Laurel and Hardy film Bonnie Scotland only has a short bit in Scotland before taking off for India for the rest of the film.
- Gutsy Smurf from The Smurfs film series.
- The Angels' Share
- Disney/Pixar's Brave takes place in the Medieval Scottish Highlands. They went so far as to make two research trips to Scotland, designed unique tartans for the fictional clans and integrated Celtic and Pictish design and patterns everywhere. The title of the movie also references the Brave Scot trope.
- Also from Disney, Maleficent is meant to be set in a fairy tale version of Medieval Scotland. Though the original Sleeping Beauty was meant to be set in France, the filmmakers for this Live-Action, Twice Told Tale version reset the characters in and around the Scottish Highlands due to the film's greater emphasis on The Fair Folk. The highlands in particular play a huge role, being portrayed as a Land of Faerie where the title character lives with various other fairy creatures, opposite a human kingdom whose king wishes to conquer the fairy realm to expand his territory.
- Doomsday opens with Scotland being quarantined to contain a very nasty plague known as "the Reaper virus". Protagonist Eden, a small child at the time, gets out just barely in time. As an adult, she has to return to try to find a medical researcher the government hopes has found a cure, since the virus is back. Turns out that the only survivors are those who were immune in the first place. She gets that information back to London, but elects to stay in her native country.
- Highlander; the original was set largely in the highlands, although Connor's accent had faded rather by current day. But he wore a sort of kilt/blanket thing and fought with pride and just about all the other cliches.
- Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Kidnapped (not Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - that's set in London, even though Stevenson was living in Edinburgh at the time).
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark.
- A Scots Quair
- The Heart Of Midlothian
- And basically everything else Irvine Welsh has done.
- The Rebus detective stories by Ian Rankin
- 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith
- The Bob Skinner detective novels by Quintin Jardine.
- Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott, although the accuracy of that may very well be questionable.
- Nowadays, Scott is the person most frequently credited/blamed for inventing the whole notion of Bonnie Scotland. And not just because of his surname.
- According to Word of God, Harry Potter's Hogwarts is located somewhere in the Scottish Highlands. Parts of the movies have been filmed there, particularly the third one in which much of the action takes place outdoors (in Glen Coe).
- Specifically, somewhere in the vicinity of Dufftown, according to Hermione.
- Just about every Christopher Brookmyre book.
- In Lonely Werewolf Girl a Theme Park Version of the Scottish Highlands features as the base of the Werewolf royal family. The sequel Curse of the Wolfgirl has a more realisticnote version along with the city of Edinburgh.
- In the Necroscope series all the standard "shortbread tin" stereotypes are invoked, then brutally eviscerated. Much like several main characters.
- Outlander began in Scotland, and then moves to France and pre-revolution America.
- The Railway Series: Donald and Douglas are from Scotland, which is reflected in their accent.
- The Loch, by Steve Alten is an obvious case, but readers may not be prepared for how much it goes into detail. Everything from the geological conditions that formed Scotland to its religious traditions to its legal traditions to its spats with England come up.
- The "Highland warrior" romance novel is a genre unto itself. Expect fierce, rugged heroes in kilts, bonnie lasses, gloomy rugged castles, enormous Claymore swords, and scenery porn. Also regular porn. Bonus points for the hero and heroine being from feuding clans, or better yet, the heroine being English. More bonus points if they're betrothed against their will, only to fall in love. The degree of accuracy generally ranges from "made an effort" to "pure Wish Fulfillment with Scottish flavouring," although every so often the author will do the research quite impressively.
- Several of Rosemary Sutcliff's historical novels take place in Scotland any time from the Stone Age to the nineteenth century, including The Eagle of the Ninth, Frontier Wolf, The Mark of the Horse Lord, Sword at Sunset, Sword Song, Bonnie Dundee, We Lived in Drumfyvie, and The Shining Company, while the hero of Blood and Sand is a real-life Scot who became Emir of Medina.
- Taggart: As almost every English actor's CV will typically contain an appearance in The Bill, every Scottish actor's will feature a bit-part in Taggart. Except David Tennant who has failed the audition several times. (He did The Bill instead.)
- Monarch of the Glen - falls into the box marked 'cheesy pish'.
- Hamish Macbeth
- River City
- Doctor Finlays Casebook
- Take The High Road, later shortened to High Road.
- Rab C. Nesbitt (They did allow Tennant a part. As a pre-op transgender barmaid. With great legs!)
- Still Game
- Power Rangers RPM has Flynn McAllistair (the Blue Ranger), who is proud of his heritage, dressed up like William Wallace in a flashback, and wore a kilt to a wedding. The greatest battle of the series is Kiwi Actor vs. Scottish Accent.
- The Thick of It - features many references to the Scottishness of its lead character Malcolm Tucker and his Bastard Understudy Jamie. Tucker is called 'Hamish MacDeath' and 'The Gorbals Goebbels' by opposition MP, Peter Mannion.
- Star Trek had Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, Chief Engineer of the starship Enterprise, and arguably the most famous fictional Scotsman, as played by a Canadian. And not even a Scottish-Canadian (who, as noted above, are plentiful), but an Irish-Canadian. Nonetheless, despite the very fake accent, both character and actor are fondly regarded by actual Scots, largely because the character is a personification of all the positive stereotypical traits associated with Scotland (ingenuity, work ethic, boisterousness, loyalty, pride in both his work and his homeland, and ability to hold his liquor) and is portrayed with just the right combination of lightheartedness and gravitas.
- Doohan said he picked a Scottish accent because Scotland is known for (besides whisky) its great engineers and innovators. The television, refrigerator, and flush toilet (among many, many, many others) were all invented by Scots.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation had an episode where the Planet of Hats people were supposed to be descended from Scots. Needless to say not a single one of the accents involved would be recognised as Scottish by anyone from Scotland.
- Smallville would occasionally make a thing of the Luthor family's Scottish roots. That Luther is a German name didn't seem to occur to them. Justified because in a later season we find out that Lionel Luthor actually made that up
- Green Wing: Sue White, the Liaison Officer AKA an "insane Caledonian bitch".
- In Doctor Who the Seventh Doctor is played by Scottish Sylvester McCoy and has a thick Scottish accent.
- In "The Eleventh Hour", the Doctor demands to Amelia "You're Scottish. Go fry something!"
- Second Doctor companion Jamie was a bagpiper from the highlands who almost always wore a kilt.
- Amusingly played with in "Tooth and Claw", in which Ten and Rose end up in Scotland accidentally and David Tennant breaks out (a thicker version of) his real Scottish accent.
- The Twelfth Doctor has a strong Glaswegian accent and the show is mining this for jokes, including an entire speech in "Deep Breath" about his eyebrows wanting to become independent and that now he's Scottish, he can really start complaining. Steven Moffat is himself Scottish.
- The Goodies played every stereotype for laughs in "Scotland" and "Alternative Roots".
- The Muppet Show: Angus McGonagle, the Argyle Gargoyle who garrrrrgles Gerrrrrrshwin! GORRRRRRGEOUSLY!
- Stargate Atlantis whose resident Doctor Carson Beckett notably wears a Scottish flag as his mission patch. This is despite English characters such as Peter Grodin who wear the Union Flag. Make of that what you will.
- Series/Highlander's main character was, oddly, from the highlands. Although by the time of the series his accent had faded, it was often seen in flashbacks, along with just about every other Scottish trope possible. Except for the Claymore; he used one in some flashbacks, but at some point he picked up a Japanese Katana instead and started using that for everything.
- AC/DC front man, Bon Scott, was from Kirriemuir, Scotland. Also, the Young brothers have Scottish descent.
- Grave Digger's Tunes of War is a Concept Album based on Scottish wars.
- They later visited the same subject matter in the songs "The Battle of Bannockburn" and "Highland Tears".
- In 2010 they released another album based on Scotland, The Clans Will Rise Again.
- Franz Ferdinand, being a Scottish band, get inspiration for a fair number of songs from the vibrant (and distinctly non-shortbread-tin) Glasgow nightlife. The most obvious Shout-Out was in "Do You Want To", in which they name-check the Glasgow art gallery Transmission. They're also one of the more prominent supporters of the Scottish Greens and were very active in the "Yes" campaign in the independence referendum.
- Scotland has a large body of traditional and folk music, much of it dealing with Scottish life and history. The most prominent exponents of Scottish folk were The Corries, a duo comprised of Ronnie Browne and the late, great Roy Williamson, who helped popularise the folk revival of the '60s, and penned Flower of Scotland, the nation's unofficial anthem. Other artists include Silly Wizard, The Clutha and The Tannahill Weavers, among many others.
- Highly successful celtic rock band Runrig hail from the Hebridean island of Skye. Much of their music deals with Scottish culture and tradition and makes use of the Gaelic language. They have covered several traditional songs, most famously Loch Lomond, which became something of an anthem, and the definitive rock adaptation of the song.
- Numerous folk punk and celtic punk bands, in Scotland and elsewhere make use of music and lyrics inspired by folk music, including The Real McKenzies from Canada, Flatfoot 56 from the United States, and the Nyah Fearties from Scotland itself.
- The Exploited, one of the most famous anarcho-punk bands in the world, also credited with introducing the mohawk to the world at large.
- A range of '80s Scottish Bands: Cocteau Twins, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, and The Vaselines.
- And a range of '90s Scottish Bands: Arab Strap, Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai, and Teenage Fanclub.
- And a range of 2000s Scottish Bands: Snow Patrol, The Fratellis, Travis, CHVRCHES, and the aforementioned Franz Ferdinand.
- Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage is from Edinburgh, where she formed her first band, Angelfish.
- Alestorm are from Perth.
- Sheena Easton.
- KT Tunstall.
- We are legally required to mention The Proclaimers here, one of the few popular Scottish bands to maintain their thick Scottish accents in their music. (''If I could walk 500 miles...")
- Bis, the punk trio famous for being the only Indie band to ever play Top of the Pops and writing The Powerpuff Girls theme song, and HUGE in Japan. Warning; may never leave your head.
- Ian Anderson, lead singer of Jethro Tull.
- The Bay City Rollers.
- '70s rockers Nazareth.
- Indie rock bands Frightened Rabbit (Selkirk), We Were Promised Jetpacks (Edinburgh) and the Twilight Sad (Kilsyth). All three bands have been making the rounds into the soundtracks of North American television and cinema and promote each other rather heavily.
- Jimmy Barnes originally hails from Glasgow.
- The Waterboys, although steeped in Irish trad music and at various times comprised of several Irish members, are fronted by the (aptly named) Mike Scott. He frequently namedrops various Scottish locales and towns throughout his lyrics, including the memorable line from a solo work: 'I've gotta say it's totally great to be back in Glasgow again!'
- Scotland has a rich poetic traditional, including a great body of work in the Scots language, most famously the work of Robert "Rabbie" Burns, a Scottish national hero whose popularity has led to his usurpation of the epithet "The Bard" within Scotland and the Scottish expatriate community (the title traditionally being used to describe Shakespeare in the English-speaking world). Much of his work was written in the Scots dialect, albeit a variety more Anglicised than is traditional, and deals with Scottish history and culture, particularly the Wars of Independence and the Jacobite Wars, both of which allowed Burns to indulge in his then radical positions of Scottish nationalism and republicanism without betraying his subversive message to then-rampant censorship. He also wrote songs, or adapted poems to music, including such canon examples as Scots Wha Hae, Comin' Thro' The Rye and Auld Lang Syne, the latter having achieved popularity throughout the English-speaking world.
- William Topaz McGonagall is notorious as probably the worst-ever poet in British history; he is the Trope Namer for Giftedly Bad. The other Wiki has an article.
- Like many countries Scotland has a base of traditional folklore in poetry and prose as well as more formally noted authors. The historian, soldier, and spy Fitzroy Maclean as late as the twentieth century remembered as a youth hearing the Maclean clan bard telling tales of the deeds of his clan that sound from description like they would have satisfied any Klingon for warlikeness and bloodthirst. Other elements include stories of Fair Folk, "second sight", fisherman's tales and the like. Traditionally it was common for a clan to have a hereditary bard who would go into battle by the side of the chief to record his deeds and those of the clan albeit presumably with more stress on drama then accuracy.
- Much like Scotty from Star Trek the most famous Scottish wrestler - "Rowdy" Roddy Piper - is in fact Canadian.
- Scotland has a number of independent wrestling groups - including the Scottish Wrestling Alliance (SWA) who famously got a pay-off from WWE when the latter launched NXT, a name which was already used by the SWA for a similar concept.
- Notable Scottish wrestlers who are actually from Scotland include Drew McIntyre and The Highlanders (Robbie and Rory). "Superstar" Bill Dundee - of Memphis wrestling fame - was born in Scotland but raised in Australia.
- "Nanty Puts Her Hair Up" from New Faces of 1952.
- The Reduced Shakespeare Company's version of Macbeth, which manages to pack virtually every Scottish stereotype known to man into the roughly 1.5 minutes it takes them to do the play, complete with deliberately horrendous accents.
- The Steamie a well-regarded play set in a public washhouse (or "steamie") in Glasgow in The Fifties.
- "Unnecessary Farce" takes place in a small American city controlled by the "Scottish Clan" (with a 'C'), who employ Todd, aka the "Highland Hitman", who ties up his victims, and then dresses up in his kilt and tam, proceeds to torture them with his awful bagpipe playing, before putting them out of their misery. When angry, Todd's already affected accent becomes nigh-unintelligible.
- The Highland tribe levels in Lemmings 2 are set in a cartoony version of the Scottish Highlands, featuring redheaded Lemmings, thistle death traps, and Loch Ness Monsters and Scottish terriers as decorations and/or obstacles.
- The Scotland track in Super Tux Kart, including the background theme.
- The Rockstar North department of Rockstar Games in based in Edinburgh. Rockstar North is well known for developing all of the Grand Theft Auto games. Before they were bought by Rockstar and became Rockstar North they also made the Lemmings games and the first Grand Theft Auto games as DMA Design Ltd.
- Lilly Satou, one of the five heroines of the Visual Novel Katawa Shoujo and her sister Akira are Half Japanese, Half Scottish.
- John "Soap" MacTavish, one of the primary protagonists of the Modern Warfare series is Scottish. Captain Price's mentor, MacMillan is also Scottish.
- The Demoman of Team Fortress 2, Tavish DeGroot, is a Scotsman in every regard. On top of that, he's also black and wears an eyepatch.
- Sultry succubus Morrigan Aensland, of Darkstalkers fame is Scottish, and is named after a Celtic war goddess. She even has an approximate Scots accent in Marvel Vs Capcom 3.
- Danger Mouse had an episode set in Scotland that condensed the cows-and-bagpipes stereotype into a vista of rolling green hills with bagpipes peacefully grazing...
- Count Duckula had an episode where the Count and co' travelled to Scotland to find the Loch Ness Monster. There they ran into the Count's Scottish Uncle Rory Mac Duckula.
- Much of the mythology in Gargoyles has Scottish roots and the accents are played with. Though, if Gargoyles was your only foray into Scotland, you might think that there was no such thing as grass in the region. Word of God states that two of the surviving clans are of Scottish descent, the first being the shows main cast and the second being the Loch Ness clan, which wasn't featured at all in the Loch Ness episode.
- The Kim Possible villain Duff Killigan wears a kilt and tam'o'shanter, lives in a castle, is obsessed with golf, loves haggis and has a soundtrack of bagpipes playing whenever he appears onscreen. (So he's American, is he?)
- The Simpsons: Groundskeeper Willie, also a bag of clichés. But he's right about thing: there's nae a animal alive that can outrun a greased Scotsman.
- The Smurfs had two Season 9 episodes set in Scotland, "Hefty Sees A Serpent" and "The Phantom Bagpiper".
The Scottish flag
- George Mac Donald Fraser, who wrote, among other things, his splendid history of the Border Clans, The Steel Bonnets and his memoir of his experiences in a Border regiment during World War II, Quartered Safe Out Here. Also his experiences in the Gordon Highlanders, told in the McAuslan stories.
- Newspapers provide us with The Sunday Post, which is Heather and Shortbread in Sunday newspaper form.
- Fitzroy Maclean known not only as a commando and spy but as a historian of Scotland, and interestingly, Central Asia.
The white saltire on a blue field recalls a legend about how, in the 9th century, a Scot-Pict alliance against the numerically superior Angles were inspired to victory by the appearance of a white "X" on the skies, alluding to the cross in which Saint Andrew, an apostle of Jesus, was executed in Greece, after their leader, Óengus II of the Picts, made a vow the night before to make Saint Andrew the land's patron should he win.