Scotland is a beautiful country, situated in the north of the United Kingdom. Today it is a contemporary region with modern, bustling cities. However, present-day Scotland exists in a very ancient area, with a history that encompasses numerous civilizations over thousands of years. It is no exaggeration to say that Scotland has seen a world of change in its lifetime.
As far back as the Stone Age, various tribes and clans lived in the area that is now known as Scotland. These Neolithic people were advanced enough that they built whole villages and stone dwellings. By the Iron Age, crannogs
, or fortified dwellings had cropped up. These places were most likely were early farmers grew crops and raised livestock. In some areas, they also built large hillforts. These were communities built on a hill and surrounded by a solid wall, to help protect the inhabitants against enemies.
Scotland in the Dark Ages
For several centuries, a group called the Celts lived in Scotland and other surrounding areas. By around 80 AD, the invading Romans started wars to drive them out and take over the land. Other groups of people who also inhabited the area at the time included the Picts, Saxons (of Germanic descent), and Scots. These groups banded together to fight the Romans in 368 AD. In 503 AD, the Scots moved to Argyll, on Scotland’s west coast to start their new kingdom, Dál Riata.
Influence of the Church
A Gaelic monk named Columba Cille moved from Ireland to Dál Riata to convert the people to Christianity. His influence led to the rise of many churches and monasteries in the area. A few centuries later, in 843 AD, the Scots united with the Picts to form a larger nation. For several years, there was much turmoil among the rulers, and several times existing kings were killed and replaced. During this time, the Church gained more and more political power too.
Scotland’s Independence Wars
Until the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Scotland still remained an entirely separate nation, despite the fact that it was geographically attached to England. In the late 1200s when the Scottish king died in an accident, the English took advantage of this event to gain control over the Scots. This led to a series of wars known as the Wars of Independence that only ended by 1357. However, Scotland triumphed and retained their independence.
The Renaissance and Reformation
The 1500s brought over Renaissance ideals from England and other parts of Europe to Scotland. During this time, Scotland saw great changes at Court as well as in their churches and among the people. The Stewarts who were in power at the time fostered a strong national pride among Scots. There was much trouble between England and Scotland regarding religion in this period. Martin Luther’s Protestant movement markedly separated its followers from Catholics. While Protestant England once again tried to take over Catholic Scotland, it was France (who were also Catholic) who helped Scotland to resist England.
Scotland Unites with England
In 1603, James VI, the King of Scotland, also became the King of England as well as Ireland. Despite this, the country found it difficult to adjust to these changes. This was followed by further wars and revolutions.
The Industrial Revolution in Scotland
By the mid to late 1700s, Scotland found itself swept up in a changing world. The Industrial Revolution vastly changed the way people worked and produced goods. Scotland quickly became more efficient and productive, increasing their industries significantly. Practicality was not the only area that saw change. The Scottish Enlightenment dawned with thinkers, philosophers and teachers developing new theories and challenging older beliefs in religion and science.
The Victorian Era
The Victorian period in the 1800s was an exciting time for Scotland. Railroads were built, making other parts of the country as well as neighboring areas much closer than before. Industry and commerce developed in ways that did not even exist before. More importantly modernized cities grew at alarming rates, to the point where authorities were even concerned about overcrowding.
Scotland in Modern Times
During the 20th
century, both of the World Wars had a massive impact on Scotland. They brought an economic crisis, political turmoil, and a decline in industry. Once again, the people became more and more active in fighting for their rights and beliefs. As in other parts of the world, women especially benefited, after working hard to secure improved rights for themselves in terms of work, home life, voting and other social norms.