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Facts About Scotland

A broch is a circular iron-age structure found only in Scotland. Standing up to five storeys in height, they are built from stone, with no mortar used to bind the stones. Their purpose is unknown. Over 100 are known in Scotland.

Overlooking the town of Oban in Scotland is a replica of the Colosseum, known locally as McCaig's Folly. It was the idea of banker and self-styled art critic John Stewart McCaig who, after a trip to Italy, decided to recreate the glory of Rome in Scotland. It was intended as a museum and art gallery, but when McCaig died with only the shell built everyone lost interest. It now exists as a vast blackened cylinder and encloses a public garden. (source)

The world's shortest street is 6 centimetres long. It is in Scotland.

View more facts about: Transportation

Rhetorical Systems, an Edinburgh electronics firm, has devised a computer programme, called RVoice, that allows PCs to speak with a Scottish accent.

While bagpipes are today identified with Scotland, they date from ancient times and may have been introduced into the British Isles by the Romans. (source)

View more facts about: Ancient Britain and Ireland | Music

The Old Calton Burial Ground, in Edinburgh, Scotland, houses a memorial to Scottish soldiers who died in the American Civil War, as well as the first statue of Abraham Lincoln erected outside of the United States.

View more facts about: American Civil War

The kilt is not Scottish in origin. It was a form of male attire in ancient times and originated in the Mediterranean area. Both Roman and Assyrian soldiers wore them.

View more facts about: Misconceptions

Queen Elizabeth II is descended from King Egbert (802–839), the first king of all of England, and of King Fergus Mor Mac Eirc of Dalriada (now part of Scotland), who reigned around the year 500. (source)

View more facts about: Royalty

In Scotland, the ancient feudal system of land ownership, which allowed "feudal superiors" to continue to have rights over "vassals" who own their own houses built on the land, was not abolished until the year 2000.

View more facts about: Middle Ages

In response to England's closure of the Libyan embassy in London, Colonel Muammar el-Qadhafi ordered that England be removed from all Libyan maps in the mid 1980s. In its place was a new arm of the North Sea between Scotland and Wales. (source)

View more facts about: Geography

A leather cannon was used during the reign of Henry VIII at the siege of Boulogne. Leather guns were used by the Scots at the Battle of Newburn in 1640. (source)

View more facts about: Weapons and Battles

Margaret, "Maid of Norway", was nominally declared Queen of Scotland in 1286 but it was not until 1290 that the seven-year-old Queen sailed from Norway to claim her new kingdom. Unfortunately, on the journey across the North Sea, she suffered terrible sea-sickness and died in the Orkneys before ever setting foot on the Scottish mainland. (source)

View more facts about: Middle Ages

Margaret Dixon, a Scottish criminal, was hanged at Musselburgh in 1728. A few hours after the execution, however, she climbed out of her coffin. She was reprieved and given a free pardon; however, her husband was considered a widower because she was officially dead. So, to conform with Scottish laws, they had to marry again. (source)

In Kincardineshire in northeastern Scotland, timber fragments from a building 78 feet long, 39 feet wide, and 30 feet high have been dated to around 4,000 B.C. The large size of this building would appear to indicate a high level of civilisation in the area, over 1,000 years before Stonehenge or the pyr­amids of Egypt were built. (source)

View more facts about: Ancient Britain and Ireland

The quaich is a traditional Scottish drinking vessel used to offer a guest both a cup of welcome and a farewell drink, usually a dram of whisky. Travellers were known to carry a quaich with them. It is a uniquely Scottish invention, having no connection with any other European drinking vessel. It is believed that one of their ancestors was the scallop shell, in which drams of whisky were taken in the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

Elizabeth Delk, a school guidance counsellor in Virginia, spent three months at St. Andrews University in Scotland in 1994, where she surveyed the drinking habits of 456 undergraduates. She found that the average consumption among Scottish students ran at 10.2 drinks per week, compared to the American average of 4.3 drinks. However, her paper concludes that "there was little evidence of loud, inappropriate, aggressive, or otherwise rowdy behaviour; drinking appeared to be handled in a more controlled, safe, and responsible way." (source)

The flag of the United Kingdom, known as the Union Jack, contains three emblems of three countries that are the crosses of three patron saints. There is the red cross of St. George, patron saint of England, on a white ground, the white diagonal cross, or saltire, of St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, on a blue ground, and the red diagonal cross of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, on a while ground. (source)

View more facts about: Flags
Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway

In County Antrim in Northern Ireland, near Bengore Head, is a curious geological formation consisting of a platform of basalt columns extending from the cliffs to the sea. There are around 40,000 vertical columns of basalt, up to 36 feet high and between 15 to 30 inches in diameter. Most of the columns, which form an uneven pavement extending 300 feet out into the water, are hexagonal in their cross-section. In many cases, these columns are fitted together so tightly that not even water can penetrate between them. This geological formation is referred to as the "Giant's Causeway" due to a legend that they were once part of a causeway built by giants to cross between Ireland and Scotland. (source)

Some of Edinburgh's diverse public monuments, sculptures, and statues have been "adopted" in an effort to safeguard the city's heritage. The Witches' Well, once used for ex­ecutions, on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, has been adopted by a young woman interested in the occult. The Cockburn Association, Edinburgh's civic watchdog group, has adopted the Netherbow Well. The group's secretary, Martin Hulse, adopted the pigeon pavement sculptures in Elm Row, an art-work known as A Leith Walk. The infamous Body and Soul water feature in Hunter Square that was used as a litter bin, has been taken on by the Edinburgh Old Town Association. A firm of tax specialists has adopted the George Street statue of William Pitt, the founder of Britain's income tax system. The City of Edinburgh Council launched the scheme in December 1999, saying it hoped that signing up individuals and organisations to monuments would improve the interest in their preservation.

The word "dunce", meaning a dull-witted or ignorant person, comes from the name of John Duns Scotus (1265-1308), one of the greatest minds of his time. Scotus, born in Scotland, wrote treatises on grammar, logic, metaphysics, and theology. He was educated at Cambridge and Oxford and pursued his master's degree in theology at the University of Paris where, in 1303, he became embroiled in one of the most heated disputes of the day. France's King Philip IV had moved to tax the Church in order to finance his war with England; in response, Pope Boniface VIII threatened to excommunicate him. For supporting the pope, Duns Scotus was banished from France. He later assumed a university professorship in Cologne. The term "dunce" was coined two centuries later by people who disagreed with Scotus' teachings and his defence of the papacy. To them, any of his followers (a "Duns man" or "Dunce") was dull-witted, "incapable of scholarship and stupid". (source)

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