Kilts, haggis, whisky, bagpipes and tartan didn’t originate in Scotland. Even the Scots themselves were an Irish tribe who moved to what the Romans called Caledonia in the fifth or sixth century ad. Kilts were an Irish invention, haggis was eaten in Ancient Greece, Italy invented whisky and bagpipes are from Asia.
However, the list of inventions Scotland has been involved in include: adhesive stamps; bicycle pedals; the Breech-loading rifle; Bovril; chloroform; colour photography; the cure for malaria; the decimal point; the Encyclopedia Britannica; the fountain pen; finger-printing; hypodermic syringes; the lawnmower; lime cordial; marmalade; motor insurance; the MRI scanner; the postmark; pneumatic tyres; radar; the reflecting telescope; savings banks; the screw propeller; the speedometer; the; the raincoat; tarmac; Universal Standard Time; vacuum flasks and Chicken Tikka Masala.
Chicken Tikka Masala was invented in Glasgow in the late 1960s after a customer asked for some gravy to go with his Chicken Tandoori (the unnamed chef improvised with tomato soup, spices and cream).
Scotland has twice as many pandas as Conservative MPs.
There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter.
Jacobite mythology has re-interpreted the battle of Culloden in 1746 as a Scotland versus England affair but it was, for the most part, Scotland versus Scotland. There were more Scots in the army which defeated Bonnie Prince Charlie than there were in his own army.
As well as three battalions of Lowland Scots, the Hanoverian army under General Cumberland included a well-trained battalion of Highland Scots from Clan Munro, a big contingent of the Highland Clan Campbell's militia and a large number of Highland foot soldiers from Clans MacKay, Ross, Gunn, and Grant fighting under English officers.
Three-quarters of the Jacobite Army were Highlanders, the rest were Lowland Scots, with a small contingent of troops from France and Ireland.
In 1715, a group of Jacobite rebels failed to take Edinburgh Castle because their rope ladders were six feet too short.
The word ‘tartan’ was first recorded in English in 1454. It comes from the French tiretaine, meaning ‘strong, coarse fabric’ (from the Latin tyrius, ‘cloth of Tyre’). In medieval Scotland, ‘tartan’ merely meant woven (as opposed to knitted) cloth. Plaid, now used interchangeably with tartan, was originally Gaelic for blanket. By the late 16th century, individual weavers all over the Highlands were producing their own tartan cloths known as ‘setts’. What drove the patterns of the setts was the taste and skill of the individual weaver, the availability of coloured dyes and the quality of the local wool. It wasn’t about an official ‘clan’ identity.
16th century Scottish poets had early rap battles - ‘Flyting’ saw them compete to insult each other in verse.
In 2007, Scotland spent £125,000 devising a new national slogan. The winning entry was: 'Welcome to Scotland'.
One of the last acts of Scotland, before the 1707 Act of was to invade the Panamanian isthmus of Darién. The scheme was dreamt up by William Paterson, the Scot who founded the Bank of England. He saw the opportunity of a establishing a trading post in Central America which could act as link between the riches of the Pacific and the trading nations of Western Europe.
Patterson raised £400,000 in six months, a vast sum equal to a third of the total collective assets of the nation. Almost every Scotsman who could put his name to £5 invested. In 1698 1,200 settlers left Leith. They were woefully under-prepared and ill informed. The land was an un-farmable, mosquito-infested swamp. The colony barely lasted a year and only 300 people made it back to Scotland.
This was an unmitigated disaster for Scotland. It shattered morale and left the economy almost £250,000 in debt. Seven years later the country signed the Act of Union with England.
In Scotland, beautiful as it is, it was always raining. Even when it wasn’t raining, it was about to rain, or had just rained. It’s a very angry sky.
In 1320, Scotland was excommunicated by the Pope.
Scotland's first known flight attempt was in 1507. Sadly, John Damian's feathered wings didn't work. He landed in a dunghill.