Scotland is the country on the north of the British Isles and part of the United Kingdom. Historically an independent state, it became part of a personal union with England at the ascension of Scottish King James VI as James I of England in 1603; the crowns were formally merged as the Kingdom of 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 centre of Glasgow. Do not call a Scot "English" (ditto for Welsh and Irish people). It is correct to say that the Scottish are British, though, as we'll see below, there's a political debate ongoing over this.
Compare Canada, Eh? (more "English" Canadians claim Scottish ancestry than any other) and Norse by Norsewest (the Northern Isles and some of the Hebrides are primarily of Nordic descent and retain a lot of Scandinavian influence, and the Faroese and Icelanders are primarily of Gaelic descent on the female side).
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 poem.
Often in American television shows all Scots wear the kilt all the time. 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.
In recent years this has changed somewhat, with some sports 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
The stereotypical "kilts, bagpipes, thistles, Highland cows" view of Scotland is often referred to as "the shortbread-tin version", after the packaging in which shortbread biscuits/cookies are marketed to tourists.
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 than feudal in concept. The proper title was (prior to the unification of the two kingdoms) King (or Queen) of Scots.
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). 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 colourful 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 Stuarts. With the exception of the island and coastal clans, many stayed neutral during the Stuart 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 "sons 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 United Kingdom. Nevertheless, traditional dishes still coexist happily with the modern internationalised diet (McDonald's, KFC, etc).
Scotland does have the dubious distinction of eating almost as unhealthily as America, 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. Bland, comforting and only memorable for the title, and that it originally contained prunes. Y'know, for the fibre! Some traditional cooks will still put the prunes in, going by the (cook)book and following the old-fashioned, original recipe; contemporary cooks might leave the prunes out to try new and innovative variants.
- Other famous and considerably more interesting Scottish soups are Scotch Broth (lamb, barley and vegetables) and Cullen Skink (smoked fish, potatoes and cream), both of which are delicious 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. It actually 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, in addition to which it can be used as a pizza topping. 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.
- Deep-fried Mars Bars are actually real. This culinary oddity originated as a novelty item somewhere in some corner of darkest Scotland — although its true origins are shrouded in the mists of time (and probably alcohol as well) — and has since spread to become a novelty item everywhere else; a kind of national joke and conspiracy ... but if a tourist goes into a chippy and asks for one for a laugh, he's getting one. Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee all claim to have invented it. Note for Americans
- The Scotch Pie is a Scottish institution available in fish and chip shops, football grounds and the like. Descriptions of what goes into one are not readily available because if people knew what goes into them, they probably wouldn't eat them. It's basically a ball of heavily-seasoned cooked mince held together with filler, inside a deep-fried pastry case; the Glasgow writer Tom Leonard accurately characterised it as a "peppery little stodge-bomb". Not to be confused with the classier variant, also available in takeaways, the Steak Pie, which is cooked steak in a rich gravy, also inside a pastry case. Much tastier, slightly more expensive, not as 'street'.
- In a similar vein, the Macaroni Pie comes as a particular shock to tourists, who often find it difficult to wrap their heads around the idea. Yes, it's macaroni cheese, inside a pie. By comparison, Haggis (which contains protein, minerals and whole grains) is health food. Also, looking at the rest of the list, you will notice that this carbohydrate bomb is the only vegetarian option.
- Sticking with pastry-based options, the Bridie is similar to the more widely-known Cornish pasty. A variant is the Forfar Bridie, named for the Angus town, which uses shortcrust pastry rather than the usual flaky pastry. People from Forfar stubbornly maintain that theirs is the "true" recipe.
- The Full Scottish Breakfast varies from its close cousin the Full English due to the inclusion of one or more of the following: Tattie scone, square sausage (see below) and slices of haggis (see above).
- 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.note
- 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.note 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.
- Smoked salmon: One of Scotland's biggest exports and available everywhere. Varies in quality, but c'mon, it's smoked salmon. There are few Scottish fishing towns which don't have a smokery, and just as the Scots will deep-fry anything, they will also smoke anything; the Arbroath smokie is a hot-smoked whole haddock, quite different from the relatively bland cold-smoked Finnan Haddie (also haddock), but there's also smoked cheese, smoked duck, smoked venison and even smoked whisky.
- Game is the classiest example of Scottish cuisine. Venison is widely available in supermarkets, both in pre-cut form and in the form of burgers and even sausages; it's extremely lean, and one of the tastier meats when cooked well. When in season, other game such as partridge, pheasant and grouse are available in classier supermarkets, and farmers' markets will sell wild rabbit, hare and even squirrel (squirrel being basically vermin, they're cheap and plentiful.) Old-school Scottish cooking is full of recipes for these and although the gamy flavours aren't for everyone, they're a healthier option for meat-eaters, even if you have to watch out for bits of buckshot in your food.
DrinksBe warned, alcohol is Serious Business in Scotland, so tread lightly.
- Scotland's national drink is of course Whisky, also known as 'Scotch' — although within Scotland itself, the latter term is rarely used as the fact that it is from Scotland is implied (traditionally, 'Scotch' is another word for 'Scottish', although nowadays it's only really used to refer to the whisky). There are a huge amounts of types, brands, varieties, labels, and distilleriesnote . Tasting them all and debating which is best is the work of a lifetime, so is debating exactly how many there are and which type is which for that matter. One which definitely isn't, is whiskey with an "e", which is Irish. And American, while whisky (no "e") is also Canadian. note Getting that wrong can also be a debate that will last a lifetime, (but also less than half an hour) if uttered in the wrong place.
- As is the case with their English neighbours, the Scots are rather fond of Beer, although things are done a little differently north of the Border...
- A weary traveller may become confused as a result of finding 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. 80 Shilling is usually referred to as "heavy", so asking for "a pint of heavy" when you are not sure of the brand names will get you one of these, much like asking for "a pint of best bitter" will get you the equivalent in England.
- The most popular brand of lager is Tennent's (who used to put pictures of half-naked women on their cans) and they do a lot of sponsorship of major events. Brewed by the Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow.
- as it happens, Scotland brews the 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.
- As with Whisky (see above), there are a number of microbreweries making specialist beers. Once again, sampling them all would be the work of a lifetime.
- 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.
- Craft beers are increasingly Serious Business in Scotland, with younger drinkers, in particular, growing tired of the heavier, sweeter ales preferred by the older generation. The aforementioned Brew Dog is the most notorious of Scotland's craft brewers, especially for its questionable marketing techniques.note
- Another tipple favoured by those of an alcoholic persuasion (i.e, a great many people) is Buckfast Tonic Wine (a.k.a. "Buckie"), a caffeinated alcoholic beverage actually produced by Buckfast Abbey, a monastery in Devon. Because of its unique composition and low price, Buckie has since become associated with violence and anti-social behaviour — it is nicknamed "Commotion Lotion" and "Wreck the Hoosenote Juice".
- Scotland also has a number of Fruit Wine makers, most famous are probably Cairn O'Mohr (say it out-loud) and Moniack Castle.
- Moving away from alcohol, Scotland's other national drink is Irn-Bru (pronounced "Iron Brew"), made by Barr's of Cumbernauld since 1901. It's a caffeinated fizzy drink, clear radioactive orange in colour and alleged to have energy-giving properties, and to be made from iron girders. It's Scotland's most popular soft drink by some distance, having more than held its own against the likes of Coca-Cola for over a century, and can usually be found elsewhere in the world wherever there's a significant Scottish expat community note . Believed to be a very good cure for hangovers, which may explain its popularity.
- In terms of hot drinks, tea is generally preferred to coffee, as per the rest of the UK. That said, coffee is becoming more popular due to the proliferation of coffee chains like Costa Coffee and Starbucks, as per the rest of the UK.
The Scots EngineerIn the 19th century and early 20th century, a stereotype developed in Britain (especially England) that The Engineer was always a Scot, especially on ocean-going ships, railways, and military sapper units. Oh, and in breweries, too; you can't run a proper London Porter brewery without a good Scots brewmaster, now, could you?
This arose due to events in the late 18th century, in the first part of the Industrial Revolution, when much of Scotland was still recovering from the severe reprisals following the Hanover-Stuart Wars. Scotland was already noteworthy for both miningnote and ship building, so there was a tradition of engineering there already, with the first successful steam engines being developed for pumping water out of Scottish mines. However, since much of Scotland (especially the Highlands) was now deeply impoverished, many educated and experienced Scots mining engineers moved to the industrial centres of England to take up work in the newly mechanized fields ranging from weaving to beer brewing.
Over time, many of these would return to Scotland to form their own businesses, with many in the coastal cities working in ship construction during the shift from sail to steam. As a result, it really was the case that a large number of ship engineers in both the Royal Navy and the rising shipping lines were Scots. Scottish engineers also dominated the rail business, especially in the designing and building of trestle bridges in the mid to late 19th century.
While this image of Scotland as a nation of burly mechanics has largely faded, it lingered long enough to inspire the most famed Scottish engineer of all, Commander Montgomery Scott.
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 — Guilty, Not Guilty and Not Proven (otherwise known as "that bastard verdict", or "we think you're guilty but can't conclusively prove it, so you're free to go, just don't do it again"). The Scottish Education system is also different; see British Education System.
Scotland also has its own money — or at least, several Scottish banks are allowed to print sterling banknotes which circulate alongside those of the Bank of England. These are legal tender anywhere in the United Kingdom, although some shop workers south of the Border (especially those who are new to the job) may take some convincing of this.
The Act of Union also guaranteed a separate Established (though not state) Church. This is the Church of Scotland (a.k.a. 'the Kirk'), which is Presbyterian but is by no means the only Protestant denomination; there's also the Free Church of Scotland (sometimes known as the "Wee Frees") which 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). Additionally, 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 another over the past three centuries, which is all a bit People's Front of Judea. Somewhere among this is the Scottish Episcopal Church which is Scotland's Anglican denomination but, thanks to the Reformation having taken a somewhat different path in Scotland than it did in England, it has never enjoyed the prestige of its sister church south of the Border. Speaking of which, while the King is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, he's a lay member of the Church of Scotland (albeit one who is the Church's designated "Protector") — meaning that he somehow changes denominations whenever he crosses the Border. Incidentally, many members of the Royal Family lean towards the Church of Scotland rather than the Church of England; the most prominent examples being the late Queen herself for one (possibly on account of her Scottish mother) and Princess Anne. Apparently, 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, Scotland's most widely-known 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 football stadium,note 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.
Scotland has had its own Parliament since 1999. It has accumulated many powers ever since. Pressure had been growing for devolution (transfer of powers to a more local level) in the previous decades. In the 1950s Scotland's politics were very much in harmony in England's. A variety of factors caused the two to fall out of step: the end of the British Empire, the discovery of North Sea oil and industrial decline over the next few decades. That had the twin effect of giving Scotland a political scene that was more left-wing than England's and that featured a prominent nationalist movement. The Scottish National Party (SNP) is the main political party to advocate independence. The other that has a foothold in the Scottish Parliament is the Greens. Three UK-wide parties have been the main organisers of opposition to independence, even if they don't agree on much else: Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats.
There is a segment of Scottish society that wishes for independence. In 2011, the SNP won a surprise majority in the Scottish Parliament (which was actually meant to be impossible - the "additional member" system under which MSPs are elected was specifically designed to prevent any party winning an overall majority) and were able to secure a referendum on independence. That vote, held on 18 September 2014, saw Scotland vote against independence by a 55.3%-44.7% margin, 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. Economic arguments and the promise of more devolution helped the "No" side win, while disenchantment with Westminster politics and the economy were the main drivers of the "Yes" campaign. In the years since then, the promises of more devolution haven't been fulfilled, and the little matter of Brexit and its, shall we say, attendant challenges, have continued to be cited by the pro-independence side as good reasons for Scotland to leave the UK, while the anti-independence side continues to argue that ongoing union is in everyone's best interests.
A further complication was the near-total collapse of the Labour party in Scotland at the 2015 elections, with nearly all their support migrating to the SNP, which had positioned itself on more traditional centre-left territory that Labour in the UK had shifted away from; Scottish Labour has never recovered, making the SNP still the dominant party in Scotland. This has led to some bitterness, and when things get nasty, the "No" side tends to view the "Yes" side as Braveheart-watching England-haters, and the "Yes" side tends to view the "No" side as Tories and other right-wingers who hate poor people and Scotland generally—there's a lot of history there, and it tends to attract heated debate.
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. Cèilidh 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. Hogmanay 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.
- Violent Glaswegian
- Everything's Louder with Bagpipes
- Man in a Kilt
- Brave Scot
- Thrifty Scot
- Fringe Festival
Scotland and Scottish characters in fiction
- First and foremost, we have The Broons and Oor Wullie, creations of the Dundee-based DC Thomson.
- Angus Og: A strip that ran in the "Daily Record" tabloid until 1989 dealing with the wacky hijinks of crofting community in the Outer Hebrides.
- Nero: Nero is visited by a traditional Scot in the album "Mr. Nobody".
- Tintin: In The Black Island, Tintin discovers that Dr. J.W. Mueller's counterfeiting operation is based in the fictitious Scottish coastal village of Kiltoch in the Scottish Highlands. While in Scotland, he wears a kilt instead of his usual plus fours.
- 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.
- Asterix: 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.
- 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 (a pun on "mackrel") is introduced. He lives in a castle in Scotland, where he wears a kilt and plays the bagpipes.
- Aideen from Keepers of the Elements is from Scotland and in the Old Keepers' Chapters In the Spotlight, we see what life was like for her there.
- Duncan McSmurf from Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, who is basically Gutsy from The Smurfs film series with an Adaptation Name Change and an Adaptation Dye-Job.
- 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.
- Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster. Oh, god... Kilts, bagpipes, haggis, Nessie, horrible horrible accents... it just doesn't end!
- The Angels' Share
- 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.
- Braveheart, the most famous and historically inaccurate depiction of Scotland in fiction.
- Casino Royale (1967)
- Chariots of Fire is a slightly fictionalised account of two sprinters in the 1924 Olympics, one of whom, Eric Liddell, was a Scotsman. Multiple scenes depict Liddell's life in Scotland.
- 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.
- Four Weddings and a Funeral
- 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.
- Gregory's Girl
- In the Loop has the 'Double Scotch' duo of Malcolm Tucker and Jamie MacDonald. Some of the best examples of Scottish swearing in cinema.
- James Bond:
- The first actor to star as Bond was Scotsman Sean Connery, whose performance impressed Bond creator Ian Fleming so much that he gave Bond a Scottish background in the later novels.
- In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, George Lazenby wears a kilt.
- The World Is Not Enough: The funeral for Sir Robert King takes place in Scotland, and MI6's Scottish headquarters are in Eilean Donan castle.
- Skyfall: The title refers to the Scottish boyhood home of Bond.
- Local Hero
- Made Of Honor
- 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 Medieval 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, For Maleficent: Mistress of Evil it is set near the Scottish border.
- The Piano features Scottish characters but is set in New Zealand. Hence a lot of the accents suck massively.
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
- Gutsy Smurf from The Smurfs film series.
- Star Trek (2009) - Montgomery Scott, the proudly Scottish chief engineer of the USS Enterprise.
- Trainspotting (not the shortbread-tin version).
- Whisky Galore!
- The Wicker Man (1973)
- Robert Louis Stevenson's novels Kidnapped and The Master of Ballantrae are set in eighteenth-century Scotland, during and (in the case of Kidnapped) after the '45. By contrast, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is set in London, although the Real Life inspiration, Deacon Brodie, was from Edinburgh.
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark.
- A Scots Quair
- And basically everything else Irvine Welsh has done.
- The Rebus detective stories by Ian Rankin are mostly set in and around Edinburgh.
- Rankin even wrote a companion non-fiction book, Rebus' Scotland, which discusses the Scottish themes of the novels.
- 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith
- The Bob Skinner detective novels by Quintin Jardine.
- Sir Walter Scott is the person most frequently credited/blamed for inventing the whole notion of "Bonnie Scotland". And not just because of his surname. His works include...
- Rob Roy is about a real person, although the historical accuracy may very well be questionable.
- ''Waverley, set at the time of the '45, is quite possibly the only novel in the world that has a railway station named after it.
- The Heart Of Midlothian
- 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).
- Somewhere in the vicinity of Dufftown, according to Hermione in the Prisoner of Azkaban film adaptation.
- John Buchan was a proud Lowland Scot, and this is reflected in many of his characters being either Scottish (Edward Leuthen, Dickson McCunn, the Gorbals Die-Hards) or of Scottish ancestry (Richard Hannay); additionally, quite a few minor characters' surnames are taken from Lowland villages (Lamancha, Lamington, etc). His historical novel Witch Wood is set in Scotland at the time of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms note , and was written at the same time as his non-fictional biography of the Scottish Royalist leader Lord Montrose.
- 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 Fulfilment 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.
- George MacDonald 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.
- The Nac Mac Feegle of Discworld are extremely Scottish, being basically Glaswegian Smurfs with a habit of drinkin', fightin', and snaflin' coobeastie.
- Doctor Finlay's Casebook
- Doctor Who
- The Seventh Doctor is played by Sylvester McCoy using his native Scottish accent (the first Doctor to speak in a non-RP accent). Unlike later incarnations of the Doctor, this is never referenced by the show's dialogue.
- The Twelfth Doctor is played by Peter Capaldi with his own Glasgow accent. The show mined 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.
- Second Doctor companion Jamie McCrimmon was an 18th century bagpiper from the Highlands who almost always wore a kilt. He was played by English actor Frazer Hines putting on a Fake Scottish accent.
- Eleventh Doctor companion Amy Pond is also Scottish, although by the time she becomes the Eleventh Doctor's companion she's lived at least half of her life in Leadworth, Gloucestershire, in the Southwest of England. The Doctor himself notes that it must be a supreme act of willpower for her to have remained Scottish.
- From "The Eleventh Hour" (Amy's first episode), "You're Scottish. Go fry something!"
- Upon hearing Amy's order that it's okay to leave everyone else to die, in order to safely come back to her and the baby:
Rory: You are so Scottish!
- Amusingly played with in "Tooth and Claw", in which the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler end up in Scotland accidentally and David Tennant breaks out (a thicker version of) his real Scottish accent.
- Green Wing: Sue White, the Liaison Officer AKA an "insane Caledonian bitch".
- Hamish Macbeth
- 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.
- Monarch of the Glen - falls into the box marked 'cheesy pish'.
- The first season and a half of Outlander are set in Scotland, and most of the show (including parts set in France and colonial America) is filmed there. It's absolutely gorgeous.
- The Muppet Show: Angus McGonagle, the Argyle Gargoyle who garrrrrgles Gerrrrrrshwin! GORRRRRRGEOUSLY!
- Power Rangers RPM has Flynn McAllistair (the Blue Ranger), who is proud of his heritage, dressed up as William Wallace in a flashback, and wore a kilt to a wedding. The greatest battle of the series is Kiwi Actor vs. Scottish Accent.
- Rab C. Nesbitt (They did allow Tennant a part. As a pre-op transgender barmaid. With great legs!)
- River City
- 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
- 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.
- 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, James Doohan. 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 his 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, "Sub Rosa", 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.
- Still Game
- 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 for David Tennant who has failed the audition several times. (He did The Bill instead.)
- Take The High Road, later shortened to High Road.
- 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.
- AC/DC frontman, Bon Scott, was from Kirriemuir, Scotland. Also, the Young brothers have Scottish descent.
- While it's not readily apparent from the get-go, musician and former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne hails from Dumbarton; he and his family moved to Maryland at a young age, both for work reasons and because of religious tensions within his extended family (as his father was a Catholic married to a Presbyterian), and has spent the rest of his life in America since then.
- 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: The Bluebells, Cocteau Twins, Deacon Blue, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Simple Minds, and The Vaselines.
- And a range of '90s Scottish Bands: Arab Strap, Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai, Teenage Fanclub, The Beta Band, and Texas.
- And a range of 2000s Scottish Bands: Snow Patrolnote , 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.
- Gloryhammer, whose keyboard player is the lead singer of Alestorm, also come from Scotland and use Scottish place names in their music.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!'
- Brian McNeill is from Falkirk, and many of his songs are historical ballads dealing with Scottish history and culture (including his '09 album The Baltic tae Byzantium in its entirety).
- Music/Idlewild, who hail from Edinburgh, and have both a song and a compilation album named Scottish Fiction.
- Scotland has a rich poetic tradition, 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 20th 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 than accuracy.
- Newspapers provide us with The Sunday Post, which is Heather and Shortbread in Sunday newspaper form.
- 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, The Highlanders (Robbie and Rory) and Nikki Cross. "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.
- Macbeth, a.k.a. "the Scottish Play", takes considerable dramatic licence with the real-life eleventh-century Scottish king of that name.
- The Reduced Shakespeare Company's The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) includes a condensed 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. It even has time to hang a lampshade on this, noting the lack of any lines about the engines' inability to "take any more o' this."
- The Steamie a well-regarded play set in a public washhouse (or "steamie") in Glasgow in The '50s.
- "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 is 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.
- A group of circuits in Driveclub is set in Scotland, mostly in the Highlands. They even have names which reflect their approximate location (e.g. Wester Ross, Trotternish, Loch Duich).
- Parts of Scotland are part of the world map of Forza Horizon 4, including Edinburgh.
- Scotland gets their first debut as a playable empire in the sixth Civilization game, led by Robert the Bruce. Their strengths lie in industry and science with golf courses as their national improvement. Unlike other civs they get two, shorter, songs in their theme tune. Scotland the Brave and Bonny Dundee https://youtu.be/YLHFlKKxsfE
- Paul Twister describes Scotland thus:
The Scots are famous for four things: a sausage called 'haggis' that is so disgusting that its very name is proverbial for 'inedible food' throughout the rest of the world, a bagpipe whose wail is so harsh it has been used as a weapon of war, warriors so strong that they invented a sporting competition to see who could throw a tree trunk the farthest, and engineers so brilliant that they're referred to as 'miracle workers' by their comrades.
- The Arthur episode "The Last King of Lambland" reveals that the MacDonald family are descendants of an ancient Scottish clan (as if the surname didn't already give that away) called the MacDougal-Donalds who lived in a fictional Scottish Lowland called Kilflurgan. The son of the MacDonald family is even named James.
- 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 MacDuckula.
- 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.
- The Family-Ness
- The Simpsons: Groundskeeper Willie, also a bag of clichés. But he's right about one thing: there's nae a animal alive that can outrun a greased Scotsman.
- The Smurfs (1981) had two Season 9 episodes set in Scotland, "Hefty Sees A Serpent" and "The Phantom Bagpiper".
The Scottish flag
The Scottish national song
- Devolved parliamentary legislature within a constitutional monarchy
- Monarch: Charles III
- First Minister: Nicola Sturgeon
- Deputy First Minister: John Swinney