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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Scottish inventions and discoveries are objects, processes or techniques which owe their existence either partially or entirely to a person born in or descended from Scotland; in some cases, the invention's Scottishness is determined by the fact that they were brought into existence in Scotland (e.g. animal cloning), by non-Scots working in the country. Often, things which are discovered for the first time, are also called "inventions", and in many cases, there is no clear line between the two.

The Scots take enormous pride in the history of Scottish invention and discovery. There are many books devoted solely to the subject, as well as scores of websites listing Scottish inventions and discoveries with varying degrees of science.

Even before the Industrial Revolution, Scots have been at the forefront of innovation and discovery across a wide range of spheres: the steam engine originally taken from an English invention of Thomas Savery called the steam engine, [1] the flush toilet, the bicycle,[2] macadamisation (not to be confused with Tarmac or Tarmacadam[3]) the telephone,[4] television,[5] the motion picture,[6] penicillin,[7] electromagnetics, radar,[8] and insulin,[9] are only a few of the most significant products of Scottish ingenuity.

The following is a list of inventions or discoveries often held to be in some way Scottish.


Road transport innovations

Civil engineering innovations



Canals and docks


Power innovations

Shipbuilding innovations

Heavy industry innovations

Agricultural innovations

Communication innovations

Publishing firsts

Scientific innovations

Sports innovations

Scots have been instrumental in the invention and early development of several sports:

Medical innovations

Household innovations

Weapons innovations

Economics innovations

Adam Smith; Smith was born in 1723, hailing from Kirkcaldy, a Scottish town north of Edinburgh; the 18th century Scot considered to be the father of modern economics; Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, which argued that minimal government interference in commerce would promote human welfare and alleviate poverty, was published in 1776. He is the first Scotsman to appear on the central bank's currency in England, replacing Elgar's image in the next few years on as many as 1 billion notes.

Miscellaneous innovations

See also


  1. ^ a b "BBC - History - James Watt". Retrieved 2008-12-31.  
  2. ^ a b "BBC - History - Kirkpatrick Macmillan". Retrieved 2008-12-31.  
  3. ^ a b "John Loudon MacAdam 1756–1836". Retrieved 2006-12-10.  
  4. ^ a b "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online: Alexander Graham Bell". Retrieved 2008-12-31.  
  5. ^ a b "BBC - History - John Logie Baird". Retrieved 2008-12-31.  
  6. ^ "Who's Who of Victorian Cinema". Retrieved 2008-12-31.  
  7. ^ " Sir Alexander Fleming - Biography".  
  8. ^ a b "Radar Personalities: Sir Robert Watson-Watt". Retrieved 2008-12-31.  
  9. ^ " John Macleod - Biography". Retrieved 2008-12-31.  
  10. ^ Griffiths, John (1992). The Third Man, The Life and Times of William Murdoch 1754-1839. Andre Deutsch. ISBN 0-233-98778-9.  
  11. ^ BMJ 2009;339:b4428
  12. ^

"John Loudon MacAdam 1756–1836". Retrieved 2006-12-10.  

"Kirkpatrick Macmillan". Retrieved 2006-12-10.  

"Robert William Thomson, Scotland's forgotten inventor". Retrieved 2006-12-10.  

External links


  • Great Scottish Discoveries and Inventions, Bill Fletcher, William W. Fletcher, John Harrold, Drew, 1985, University of California, ISBN 0862670845, 9780862670849
  • Great Scottish inventions and discoveries: a concise guide : a selection of Scottish inventions and discoveries made over a period stretching back to the fifteenth century, John Geddes, Northern Books, 1994
  • Scottish Inventors, Alistair Fyfe, HarperCollins, 1999, ISBN 0004723260, 9780004723266
  • The Scottish invention of America, democracy and human rights: a history of liberty and freedom from the ancient Celts to the New Millennium, Alexander Leslie Klieforth, Robert John Munro, University Press of America, 2004, ISBN 0761827919, 9780761827917
  • The Scottish invention of English literature, Robert Crawford, Cambridge University Press, 1998, ISBN 0521590388, 9780521590389
  • Philosophical chemistry in the Scottish enlightenment: the doctrines and discoveries of William Cullen and Joseph Black, Arthur L. Donovan


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