Scotland, Land of the
Highlands and Highlanders

With a timeline that runs from 1500 B.C. through today, there’s a land called Scotland. Through the years, it has beguiled and captivated many peoples. It’s a land of intrigue that captures and charms the heart and mind.

Scotland ~ land of the Picts, the Celts, the Gaels, the Scots.

A land invaded by the Romans, the Anglos, the Saxons, and the Vikings, yet they never conquered the Scots in the Highlands.

It’s a land where the Campbells and the MacDonalds fought viscously, dying gloriously for their clans.

A land whose history is rife with fierce and famous battles ~ Stirling Bridge, Falkirk, and Culloden. A land where the Campbells and the MacDonalds fought viscously, dying gloriously for their clans.

The names of Scottish monarchy roll smoothly off the tongue ~ yet Mary Queen of Scots reigned as one of the most famous queens of all time.

A land known by many names down through the ages ~ Alba, the land of the Gaels in Gaelic ~ Caledonia, land of the red-haired, large-limbed Picts to the Romans. Scotti by the Dal-raida, a people possibly native to western Scotland ~ Scotia Minor, to Ireland’s Scotia Major, during the reign of Robert I the Bruce, in the 1300’s.

Scotland ~ a land of a stubborn, fierce, intense people ~ a land where a resplendent remnant of it’s native dress can be seen on the streets even today ~ a land who dispersed her people around the world, taking ‘Scotland’ with them in their hearts and minds.

The Picts
The first known occupants were Picts. Little is known of them.

The Celts
By 1500 to 1000 BC, different Celtic tribes occupied the whole of Britain, displacing the Picts. When they started arriving is not clear. The Bretons were a part of the Celts that settled in the British Isles.

The Celts of Ireland, Scotland, and Manx spoke Q-Celtic, while the Celts of Wales, Cornwall, and Breton spoke P-Celtic.

The Romans
By 79 AD all of the British Isles, except modern day Scotland was under Roman domination. The Angles of Germany came with them as their auxiliaries. The Romans never conquered the Highlands.

In 84 AD, the Romans had engulfed the Lowlands and attempted to defeat the Highland inhabitants. They never conquered the Highlands.

In 122 AD, Hadrian’s Wall was built dividing the line of Roman occupation from the unconquered Highlands.

Around 400 AD, Rome was declining and the Romans were recalled, leaving their Angle auxiliaries behind.

The island was divided into Picts, Bretons, Irish, Scots, and Germanic Angles.

The Middle Ages (500-1500 AD)
Around 500 AD, the Bretons invited the Irish Scots who came in mass from Ireland into the Highlands as settlers, not conquerors, and displaced the Picts.

The Angles fought the Bretons, who brought in Saxon mercenaries to help. The Bretons moved across the English Channel to Brittany in France.

The Anglo-Saxons
The Angles merged with the Saxons, becoming the Anglo-Saxons. They forced the Celts to the fringes of the island ~ Cornwall, Wales and Scotland.

In 685 AD, the Picts defeated the Angles, stopping their northern march into the Highlands. The two fought back and forth for 150 years. Even today in Edinburgh and the Lowlands there is still a strong Angle influence.

The Vikings
Around 800 AD, the Vikings began raiding into Scotland, adding Viking heritage in many clans.

In 832 AD, King Angus MacFergus, High King of Alba, with a Pict army and a force of Scots under Eochaidh, King of Dalriada, fought a Northumbrian force in Lothian for control of the region. King Angus adopted the Saltire flag.

Norman Influence (1066-1200 AD)
Gothic Influence (1150-1550 AD)

In 1124 to 1153 AD, during the reign of King David I of Scotland, the Saltire began to be placed on Scotland’s coins.
In 1138, English Anglo-Norman troops defeated Scotland.
In 1174, the English defeated Scotland.
In 1263, the Scots defeated Norway and won the Hebrides.
In 1272, William Wallace was born.
In 1274, Robert the Bruce was born.
In 1295, Scotland allied with France.
In 1296, England annexed Scotland.
In 1297, William Wallace defeated the British at Stirling Bridge.
In 1298, William Wallace defeated Edward I of England at the Battle of Falkirk.
In 1307, 1308, and 1314, Robert the Bruce, as king of Scotland, defeated Edward II of England.

On April 6,1320, The Arbroath Declaration was signed by all the leading patriots of Scotland, stating they would never again submit to British, or any other rule by their own. Over 450 years later, our Declaration of Independence was fashioned after this document in wording and philosophy. Because of the ties between these two documents, April 6th has been declared National Tartan Day in the United States.

In 1332, the second battle for Scottish independence began.
In 1349, the Bubonic Plague spread into Scotland.
In 1371, the Stewart reign began.
In 1388, the Saltire was declared the official flag or badge of the ordinary people.
In 1402, the English defeated the Scots.
In 1406, James I was captured by the English.
In 1437, James I was assassinated at Perth, James II was crowned king.
In 1460, James II was killed at Roxburgh, James III was crowned king.
In 1488, James III was assassinated, James IV was crowned king.
In 1493, clan power began to shift from the MacDonalds to the Campbells.

The Renaissance Age (1500-1900)
Early Renaissance/Tudor (1500-1558)

In 1503, King Henry VII of England, wed his daughter, Margaret Tudor, to James IV of Scotland.
In 1512, by treaty and alliance, all Scots became citizens of France.
In 1513, James IV and much of the Scottish aristocracy were killed in the Battle at Braxton, by the English forces of Henry VIII.
In 1528, James V reign began.
In 1542, James V died in battle and his daughter, Mary Queen of Scots was born and crowned Queen.
In 1544, King Henry VIII of England attempted to wed Mary Queen of Scots to his son, Prince Edward.
In 1547, Mary’s mother sent her to France and the court of Henry II.

Elizabethan Renaissance (1558-1603)
In 1558, Mary wed Francis II of France.
In 1560, Mary was widowed at 18.
In 1560, John Knox established The Reformed Church in Scotland.
In 1561, Mary, an astute Catholic, returned to Protestant Scotland to rule, bringing the French Renaissance influence with her.
In 1565, Mary married her cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, hoping to acquire ascendancy to the English throne.
In 1566, Mary’s son, the future James VI, was born.
In 1567, Lord Darnley died under questionable circumstances. The Earl of Bothwell, the suspected murderer of Lord Darnley, abducted Mary. This act united her lords against her, her army dissolved, and she was forced to abdicate to James VI.
In 1568 Mary fled to England for safety, and was imprisoned for life by Queen Elizabeth.
In 1579, The King James Bible was printed in Scotland for the first time.
In 1587, Mary was executed.
In 1588, the surviving ships of the Spanish Armada sank off the coasts of Scotland and Ireland.
In the 1600’s, colonists were sent to New Jersey and South Carolina.

Jacobean (1603-1649)
In 1603, James VI of Scotland became James I of England.
In 1625, James VI died, his son Charles I became King of Scotland.
In 1638-1644, a Protestant movement formed in the Lowlands.
In 1639-1641, religious wars were fought ~ Protestant vs. Catholic.
In 1642, Civil War broke out in England, spilling over into Scotland.
In 1644, Scottish invaded England.

Cromwellian (1649-1660)
In 1649, Charles I was executed, Charles II was proclaimed king.
In 1651, Charles II was crowned King, the last coronation in Scotland.
In 1653, Scotland became a protectorate, under Cromwell.

Middle Renaissance
Stuart Era (1660-1689), James II

In 1660, Charles was restored to the throne.
In 1678, the Highlanders invaded southwest Scotland.
In 1685, Charles II died, James VIII (James II of England) was crowned king.

Baroque/William and Mary Era (1689-1702)
In 1689, James VIII was deposed. William III (William of Orange) and Mary Stuart II reigned.
In 1689, the first Jacobite revolt occurred.
In 1690, the Scottish established Protestantism.
In 1692, years of feuding began with the murders of Clan MacDonald by the Campbells, who were under orders from William of England.
In 1694, the reign of William III began.
In 1695, The Bank of Scotland was founded and still operates today.

Queen Anne Era (1702-1714)
In 1707, the Treaty of Parliament united Scotland and England to form Great Britain, forced on the Scottish by Queen Anne.

Early Georgian Era (1714-1750), George I & II
In 1715, the first Jacobite rising occurred, the Jacobites fighting for James Stuart, James VIII.
In 1719, another Jacobite rising occurred.
In 1725, major road construction began in Scotland, to make the Highlands more accessible to British armies.

Rococo Era (1730-1760)
In 1739, the English government established the Black Watch Regiment, filled with Lowlanders and some Highlanders of questionable loyalty, led by English officers to watch, or secretly police, the Highlands, thus black watch, having nothing to do with the color of their kilts.
In 1743, the potato was introduced to the Highlands.
In 1744, the first golf club was founded in Edinburgh.
In 1745, Bonnie Prince Charles raised the Stewart and Royal Scottish Banner at Glenshiel.
In 1745, the second Jacobite rebellion occurred.
In 1746, the Jacobites won at the Battle of Falkirk.
In 1747, the Jacobites were defeated at the Battle of Culloden.

Prince Charles fled to France, with the assistance of Flora MacDonald. An ethnic cleansing began, which literally destroyed the Highlander’s way of life and the entire clan system.

Following the battle, the British government made a concerted effort to destroy the Clan system in the Highlands. The Proscription Act made tartans, kilts, weapons, bagpipes, and speaking Gaelic illegal. Many of the clan leaders fled to Edinburgh to become merchants. The clansmen were left leaderless.

Late Renaissance
Middle Georgian (1750-1770), George II & III

Between 1757 and 1761, ten Highland regiments were formed and disbanded ~ the Fraser Highlanders, the Montgomery Highlanders, the Duke of Gordon Highlanders, The 100th Regiment, The Queens Highlanders, the Royal Highland volunteers, the Johnstone Highlanders, and the MacLean Highlanders ~ to fight in the British armies.

These regiments were the only place full Highland attire was allowed in the British Empire. Many leaderless Highlanders enlisted so they could wear their tartans and kilts and have a structure of leadership they had known under their clan chiefs. They were immediately sent to the front lines, taking the brunt in English battles. Regiments served in North America and in the West Indies. The English had hoped to destroy the Highlanders, but they thrived instead.

Late Georgian (1770-1810) George III
In 1782, The Proscription Act, banning Highland dress, language, customs and traditions was repealed.

Directorie (1789-1804)
The Clearances

From 1785 to 1854, hundreds of thousands of Highlanders died or fled Scotland for the New World. Great numbers settled in Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario. There were two main Clearances, from 1785 to 1820, and a shorter one from 1842 to 1854.

English Regency (1804-1820)

The Victorian Era (1820-1901)
1820-1840, The Clearances slowed down. The English aristocracy began to embrace all things Highland. A craze for hunting deer in the Highlands began. Sheep had become the cash crop of the Highlands, but the price of wool dropped drastically. So out went the sheep and in came deer hunting.
In 1831, 58,000 Highlanders immigrated to the New World.
In 1832, 60,000 fled.
In the 1840’s the Great Potato Famine struck. The tenants were never allowed to hunt the deer, even if starving. Much of the crops grown in other areas of Scotland were shipped to England, rather than fed to the starving of the Highlands.

The Clearances
Between 1840 and 1880, on the Isle of Skye, 40,000 people were evicted. Ironically, between 1793 and 1805, 4,000 Skye men had gone to the regiments. By 1837, 10,000 had joined the regiments.
On the islands of Barra and South Uist, the clans were called to a meeting, using false pretenses. All were bound, thrown on ships, and sent to America.
In 1842, The Clearances began again.
From 1848, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were living at Balmoral Castle, espousing love of the Highlander, and covering almost all surfaces with tartans.

In 1854 the Highlander was treated as a simpleton, despised as a barbarian, only gaining respect if they served in the Army.

Also in 1854, the British army went to the Crimean War, with only three regiments of Highlanders -- the 42nd, the 79th and the 93rd. When attempts were made to raise more, not one man would enlist, telling the parsons to let the sheep defend the English.

The Burning Times
At this same time, Highlanders were being legally evicted, beaten, and murdered. Their houses were often burned to the ground to evict them, leaving them without clothes or cooking utensils.

The homes would be leveled so the Lowlanders moving in could use the lands to graze Cheviot sheep. The tenants had no place to go and no money to go with. They starved, they froze to death, and they died of exposure, disease, and fatigue. Attacking the old, the frail, and the pregnant became a perverse pleasure.

A minister, Donald MacLeod of Strathnaver, recorded many of the tragedies, but was not believed. Some of the evicted turned to the Church of Scotland, only to be told it was God’s will and a chance for them to repent of their wrongdoings.

The churches belonged to the landlords and the ministers received their appointments by the whim of the landlords. Many of the evicted broke from the church to form the Free Church of Scotland.

At the hands of their ministers, many Highlanders were sold or indentured to American slaveholders for large sums of money.

In 1874, The Patronage Act restored the right to select their own minister to the congregation, but the rift formed between the Highlanders and the Church is still present today.

By 1912, one-fifth of Scotland was dedicated to deer forests. That’s 3,500,000 acres.

On November 28, 2004, The Abolition of Feudal Tenure was enacted, ending the payment of feudal duties.

Today, the Scottish clans still exist, but with none of their former leadership and organization. Not only are they found in Scotland, but all over the world…perhaps next door or even in your own home.



To return to Find Your Clan just close this page.


Leave Scotland History and
Return to Scottish Wedding Dreams Home Page