SCOTLAND (ALBA): Scotlands Celtic language is Scottish Gaelic, related to the Irish and Manx languages. Scotlands territory was largely defined by the limits of Roman expansion in Britain, which due to fierce Celtic opposition ground to a halt at Hadrians and the Antonine Walls. Scotlands early ethnic history is more complex than those of other Celtic nations, a fact that has been used by some to try to deny that Scotland is a Celtic nation at all. While the peoples referred to by the Romans as Caledonians were indeed Celtic, uncertainty remains about the identity of the Picts who inhabited a broad swath of eastern Scotland. While it is likely that the Picts too were Celtic, some authorities theorize that they may have been a non-Celtic speaking people, or perhaps even non-Indo-European.
While the original Celtic inhabitants of Scotland spoke a language akin to the languages of Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany, the language that evolved into present-day Scottish Gaelic was first introduced into Scotland by invaders and settlers (the Scotii) from the north of Ireland. In addition, substantial settlements of Anglo-Saxon people in the southern Scottish Lowlands evolved a dialect variously referred to as Scots, Lallans or Doric, which, though it was the language of Robert Burns, is not a Celtic language. The Shetland islands were ceded to Scotland by Norway. Though there is evidence of an early Pictish presence in Shetland, the historic dialect and ethnic background of the Shetlanders is Norse, and a quiet but vigorous cultural movement is currently underway there to reaffirm Shetlands Norse identity.
First united by Kenneth MacAlpin in 843, Scotlands freedon was reasserted by William Wallace in 1297 and by Robert the Bruce in his victory at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314, and finally enshrined in the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. Scotland maintained its independence longer than most of the other Celtic countries, and it only ended with the Act of Union of 1707 that joined it with England. Many Scots joined the uprising led by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 in the hopes of reversing the Act of Union, only to see the rising crushed at the battle of Culloden in 1746.
The spirit of independence, though, was never extinguished in Scotland and the strength of the nationalist movement has grown greatly in recent years. Following a referendum in 1998, the Scots have made great strides towards regaining their independence with the setting up of a new Scottish Parliament.
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