The Flag of Scotland — Click to enlarge

SCOTLAND (ALBA): Scotland’s Celtic language is Scottish Gaelic, related to the Irish and Manx languages. Scotland’s territory was largely defined by the limits of Roman expansion in Britain, which due to fierce Celtic opposition ground to a halt at Hadrian’s and the Antonine Walls. Scotland’s 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 Shetland’s Norse identity.

First united by Kenneth MacAlpin in 843, Scotland’s 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.

For more information about Scottish history, click on the links below:
Battle of the Largs
To the Rear Stood Kilmarnock
Marconi Centennial 1901-2001
The United Scotsmen
The Flowers of the Forest
The Life of Boswell
Alasdair MacColla, Gaelic Warrior, Part One
Alasdair MacColla, Gaelic Warrior, Part Two: The Roots
Alasdair MacColla, Son of Coll (Part Three)
The Clouds of War (Alasdair MacColla, Part Four)
Lord Monboddo’s Orangutang
Setting the Stage for War (Alasdair MacColla, Part Five)
Spontaneous Combustion (Alasdair MacColla, Part Six)
A Turn of Fate (Alasdair MacColla, Part Seven)
Another Turn of Fate (Alasdair MacColla, Part Eight)
The Emerging Campaign (Alasdair MacColla, Part Nine)
The Scottish Campaign Begins (Alasdair MacColla, Part Ten)
Balloon Tytler
Montrose (Alasdair MacColla, Part Eleven)
United Opposition! (Alasdair MacColla, Part Twelve)
Aberdeen (Alasdair MacColla, Part Thirteen)
Divide and Conquer (Alasdair MacColla, Part Fourteen)
Fear Thollaidh nan Tighean (Alasdair MacColla, Part Fifteen)
Inbher Lochaidh (Alasdair MacColla, Part Sixteen)
The Way to the Gaeltachd (In The Footsteps of Alasdair MacColla, Part One)
The Way to the Gaeltachd (In The Footsteps of Alasdair MacColla, Part Two)
Katie Bar the Door!
The Death of William Wallace
Fiona Macleod 150th Anniversary