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Celtic Warrior's page of Scotland



A brief description of Scotland past

  The following will consist of a very brief summary of Scotland past,
 I will on the pages that follow give a more detailed decription of 
 Scotlands past including origins, culture, battles, and other subjects.
  
  Some say that Scotland's distant past resembles its geography-fasinating,
 but covered in a shrouded mist. Some of the first "tourists" the Romans,
 wrote letters home in which they complained of the cold and endless rains,
 and Tacitus wrote poetry about "Caledonia stern and wild/Land of brown
 heath and shaggy wood/Land of the mountain and the flood."
 
  The Roman legions never advanced very far into Scotland, being discouraged
 by swarms of wild men with long hair and wearing little in the way of
 clothing who came rushing at them out of the fog. The Romans under General
 Agricola did stop long enough, to build a line of forts between the
 Forth and Clyde rivers around the year A.D. 81. Later they constructed
 a wall, named Hadiran's Wall, named after the Roman Emperor, that became
 a rough divider between Scotland and England. After that the Romans left
 the northeners pretty much alone. But they did give them a name which 
 stuck-Picti, the painted ones-a name that is today known as the Picts.
 These people either painted their bodies with the blue wode dye (a special
 dye extracted from a cabbage type plant) or tattooed themselves; no one
 knows for sure. The true origins of the Picts is lost to time. Some say
 they were the same as the Celts or Gaels, others that they were the
 original ancients living there before the Celts or Gaels moved there
 from Continental Europe but I will go into this later. The settlers may
 have regretted the move due to the climate but as time went on they
 adjusted to it. The Picts were a short, dark people with long heads,
 who wore skins and carried rough weapons. Some of them lived in stone
 towers "brochs" which there is evidence of a few today in the north
 mainland and islands.
  
  When the Romans left the British Isles around A.D. 410 and rushed home
 to defend their empire, they left a very usable network of roads. 
 Unfortunatly for the northern people, most of these roads were south
 of the border, which was another reason the tourist trade didn't flourish
 in Scotland for several hundred more years. Until King George's General
 Wade became roadmaker-in chief during the eighteenth century, Scottish
 roads were such that a rhymer said:
   Had you seen the roads before they were made,
   You would lift up your hands and bless General Wade.
 
  Another hundred years went by when a Scot named McAdam came up with
 the idea that tar mixed with small stones made a good covering for
 Scottish roads, and for roads around the world as it happened.
 
  After the Romans had gone, the Dalriad Irish started moving over to
 Scotland until the Irish were well settled in, because they were indeed
 the Scots, a red or sandy haired people of fair skin that settled all over
 over the southwestern area and slowly spread east and north. They mingled
 with the dark haired residents and fought with the blond haired Vikings,
 who kept paying unexpected vists to the coasts. Some of the Vikings
 moved in permanently also, particularly around the north and northeastern
 shores, and there are Scots today in the Shetland Isles who might easily
 have been transplanted from a street in Oslo.
 
  No one knows exactly what language these people spoke, but it is thought
 that the Gaelic of today is a direct descendant of the early Celtic or
 Gaelic, and it has a definite affinity with Erse, or Irish Gaelic. The
 use of Englsih crept in with the Saxons, who settled in the southwestern
 area of Scotland. Gradually the Gaelic tounge was confined to the north
 and northwest, where it survives today.
 
  Around the year A.D. 560, a Christian named Columba from Ireland landed
 on the tiny island of Iona, and earned the honor of being the first 
 bearer of the Gospel to the Scottish heathen. He established a religious
 order on Iona, and from that western isle made determined forays into
 the mainland with his good news. It seems that Columba was a hard man
 to reject, and there are stories that make him sound as formidable as
 Moses. He was undoubtedly a "soldier of God" and a tough man to cross.
 Actually, Saint Ninian, another evangelist, who had learned his trade
 in Rome, had preached Christianity to the southern Picts, in Galloway,
 about sixty five years before, but columba is the one best remembered
 as the bringer of good news. Columba was not welcomed by all, a common
 thing then and now, but what he had to say was gradually accepted, and
 the Scots became Christians. That didn't mean, however, that they lived
 in peace. They fought a great deal, being divided into four kingdoms
 until the year 844, when King Kenneth McAlpin permanently united two of
 them, Dalriada and Pictland, making three remaining kingdoms. A mere
 two hundered years and many more battles later, the three kingdoms
 became one, and Scotland became a united geographical unit. This brought
 a new problem, now that the Scots were united, they decided they wanted
 to extend their borders, a matter which kept them and the English (who
 didn't like the idea) busy off and on for several hundered more years.
 
  Scotland's history now becomes very involved, with Scottish armies
 making forays over the border to harry English castles, and English
 armies headed by various irate kings stomping north to teach the rascally
 Scots a lesson. One of the English kings, Edward I, actually made such a
 habit of it that history has nicknamed him "the Hammer of the Scots."
 But the Scots too had their day and the most glorious one was Midsummer
 Day 1314, at Bannonkburn, when the Scots army under King Robert the Bruce
 defeated an English army many time its size and chased the son of the
 Hammer of the Scots over the border. This Scottish victory marked the
 way for Scotland's future, because if on that Midsummer Day the Scots
 had been defeated, it is doubtful whether Scotland would have ever been
 able to retain its independance and distinctive way of life. Without the
 victory at Bannokburn, Scotland might have become merely a northern
 adjunct to the English crown.
  Scotland also discovered fairly early that it could annoy England even
 more by becoming  an ally of France. This the Scots proceeded to do with
 such regularity through the famous Auld Alliance (old alliance) that
 the English, who were always at war with someone, usually France, got
 very fed up with it. They were quite thankful when, in 1603, they could
 unite the crowns of Scotland and England. That way they reckoned they
 could keep closer tabs on their northern neighbours.
 
  The crowns came together on the head of James VI and I (VI of Scotland
 and I of England); when England's Queen Elizabeth died, James was next in line
 to succeed to the English throne. James had the dubious distinction of
 having the longest legs and perhaps the worst table manners of any monarch.
 However, he did redeem himself in part by being an intellectual in a day
 where there were not too many of these around.
 
  A century later, in 1707, the parliaments of Scotland and England were
 united, after a number of Scottish members had been bribed to vote in
 favor of the treaty, and together Scotland and England forged ahead towards
 industrialiazation, colonization, and the foundation of the old British
 Empire.
 
  Going back to Scottish Kings, which means kings before the union of the
 crowns in 1603, there's a preponderance of Jameses. And they're all 
 Stewarts (a name derived from High Steward, or officer of the king).
 There are a few Roberts and Alexanders, but from 1406 until 1625, James
 is king (from I through VI). The Stewarts are an interesting breed.
 They were all intelligent, some were even intellectual. And they were
 all imbued with the belief that God Himself had picked them out to sit
 on the throne, something history books call the Divine Right of Kings.
 Mary Stewart, the famous Queen of Scots, the only female exception to
 Jameses in 219 years, made a name for herself in world hsitory by choosing
 bad friends and worse husbands and losing both her crown and her head.
 Mary's main problem really started at birth, because to many it seemed
 as if she had stronger claims to the throne of England, through her
 grandfather's marriage to Henry VII's daughter than Queen Elizabeth
 herself, who was considered in some circles to be illegitimate.
 Mary, however was a Catholic at a time when England had determined to
 be Protestant. John Knox, up in Scotland, wasn't too happy with a Catholic
 Queen either, and he and Mary Stewart had many verbal battles while he
 was setting about the reformation of the Scottish Church.
 
  John Knox spent most of his time shouting out against the Church of Rome,
 which he and many others felt needed reform. The protestant movement
 was basically opposed to the central church and the exercise of papal
 power over local matters. The Presbyterians which evolved in Scotland
 (coming by way of Switzerland) turned out a new rule which started at
 the bottom. Essentially, Presbyterianism was ruled by elders, or presbyters,
 elected by the congregation, with the minister guided by a group known
 collectively as the Kirk Session.
  In England, the Reformation brought Episcopalianism. It maintained rule 
 by bishops, who were not elected but appointed by an obligarchy of their
 peers.
  Being either Catholic or Episcopalian themselves, the Stewart monarchs
 were always rough on the Scots Presbyterians, and the Scots likewise
 were determined to be akward. John Knox, an argumentative person in his
 late fifties, reduced young Mary, Queen of Scots, to tears on several
 occasions. Mary's son James got so mad at his Scottish Parliament that
 he is said to have shouted in temper "Nae bishop, Nae King!" And when
 Andrew Melville, the promoter of Presbyterianism, looked him straight
 in the eye and told him firmly that in God's Kingdom, he was "not a king,
 not a lord, but a member," James blood pressure must have risen to a
 typical Stewart high.
 
  James VI and I was succeeded by his son, Charles I, who lost his head
 in 1649. He was succeeded by Oliver Cromwell, a gentleman who was unpopular
 with both the Scots and Irish, not to mention many fellow Englishmen.
  Then the Stewarts came back into their own in 1660 with the restoration
 of Charles II to the throne, who was followed in 1685 by his brother
 James II. By 1688 James had been deposed for what the Protestant majority
 felt were dangerously Papist leanings, and therefore followed what is
 known to history as the Jacobite Rebellions. The first Jacobite Rebellion
 took place in 1715, and in 1745 the second rebellion ( the more significant
 of the two) occured.
  James II's grandson, Prince Charles Stewart left exile in France and 
 landed in the Highlands with a handful of friends, but within weeks
 he had assembled a strong army of Highlanders. They marched on London,
 which they probably could have taken had they been able to agree on anything.
 They ended up being beaten at the last battle fought on British soil,
 the Battle of Culloden, in 1746.
  The near success of Bonnie Prince Charlie's rebellion pointed out to
 government in Westminister how inadequate their internal military forces
 were. This caused a shuffle throughout the island (notably in the north)
 and since that time there have been no widespread Scottish/English
 conflicts, except on the floor of the House of Commons.
 
  By the nineteenth century Sir Walter Scott's writings were fanning the
 fires of Scottish nationalism, and suddenly tartans, bagpipes, claymores,
 and heather became very popular with all Scots.
 
 
 

Early settlers of Scotland:


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