|1st row: William Wallace • Walter Scott • Alexander Graham Bell • Lulu • John Greig • James Watt • James McAvoy
2nd row: Flora MacDonald • Donald Dewar • Mary, Queen of Scots • Ewan McGregor • Robert Burns • Deborah Kerr • Robert I of Scotland
est 28,000,000 - 40,000,000 a 
|Regions with significant populations|
(Scottish descent only)
|a These figures are estimates based on official
census data of populations and official surveys of
b Scottish Americans.
C Scottish born people in England only
The Scottish people (Scots Gaelic: Albannach), or Scots, are a nation and an ethnic group indigenous to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Celtic peoples the Picts, the Gaels, and the Brythons.
In modern use, "Scottish people" or "Scots" is often used to refer to anyone born in, or with family origins in, Scotland. The Latin word Scotti originally applied to a particular, 5th century, Gaelic tribe that inhabited Ireland and later in history became confused with the Gaelic language until the 15th century. Though usually considered archaic or pejorative, the term Scotch has also been incorrectly used for the Scottish people, but this use has been primarily by people outside of Scotland.
There are people of Scottish descent in many countries other than Scotland. Emigration, influenced by factors such as the Highland and Lowland Clearances, and the formation of the British Empire, resulted in Scottish people being found throughout the world. Large populations of Scottish people settled the new-world lands of North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, with a large Scottish presence particularly noticeable in Canada, which has the second largest population of Scots, after the United States. (Scotland itself is in third place.) They took with them their Scottish languages and culture.
Scotland has seen migration and settlement of peoples at different periods in its history. The Dalriadic Gaels, the Picts and the Britons had respective origin myths, like most Dark Age European peoples. Germanic people such as Angles and Saxons arrived beginning in the 7th century while the Norse settled many regions of Scotland from the 8th century onwards. In the High Middle Ages, from the reign of David I of Scotland, there was some emigration from France, England and the Low Countries to Scotland. Many famous Scottish family names, including those bearing the names which became Bruce, Balliol, Murray and Stewart came to Scotland at this time.
In the Early Middle Ages, Scotland had several ethnic or cultural groups labeled as such in contemporary sources, namely the Picts, the Gaels, the Britons, with the Angles settling in the far southeast of the country in smaller numbers. Culturally, these peoples are grouped according to language. Most of Scotland until the 13th century spoke Celtic languages and these included, at least initially, the Britons, as well as the Gaels and the Picts. Germanic peoples included the Angles of Northumbria, who settled in southeastern Scotland in quite small numbers, and later the Norse arriving from Norway, Ireland and Denmark etc. in the north and west in smaller numbers.
After the division of Northumbria between Scotland and England by King Edgar (or after the later Battle of Carham; it is uncertain) the Scottish kingdom encompassed a great number of English people. (Contemporary populations cannot be estimated so we cannot tell which population thenceforth formed the majority.) Southeast of the Firth of Forth then in Lothian and the Borders (OE: Loðene), a northern variety of Middle English, also known as Early Scots, was spoken.
The Northern Isles and some parts of Caithness were Norn-speaking (the west of Caithness was Gaelic-speaking into the 20th Century). From 1200 to 1500 the Early Scots language spread across the lowland parts of Scotland between Galloway and the Highland line.
From 1500 until recent years, Scotland was commonly divided by language into two groups of people, Gaelic-speaking (formerly called Scottis by English speakers) "Highlanders" and the Inglis-speaking, later to be called, Scots-speaking, and later still, English-speaking "Lowlanders". Today, immigrants have brought other languages, but almost every adult throughout Scotland is fluent in the English language.
Today, Scotland has a population of just over five million people, the majority of whom consider themselves Scottish. In addition, there are many more people with Scots ancestry living abroad than the total population of Scotland. In the 2000 Census, 4.8 million Americans reported Scottish ancestry, 1.7% of the total U.S. population. Given Scotland's population (just over 5 million), there are almost as many Scottish Americans as there are native Scots living in their home country.
In Canada, according to the 2001 Census of Canada data, the Scottish-Canadian community accounts for 4,719,850 people. Scottish-Canadians are the 3rd biggest ethnic group in Canada. Scottish culture has particularly thrived in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia (Latin for "New Scotland"). There, in Cape Breton, where both Lowland and Highland Scots settled in large numbers, Canadian Gaelic is still spoken by a small number of residents. Cape Breton is the home of the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts.
Large numbers of Scottish people reside in other parts of the United Kingdom and in the Republic of Ireland, particularly Ulster where they form the Ulster-Scots community. The number of people of Scottish descent in England and Wales is impossible to quantify due to the ancient and complex pattern of migration within Great Britain. Of the present generation alone, some 800,000 people born in Scotland have emigrated to either England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Other European countries have had their share of Scots immigrants. The Scots have been emigrating to mainland Europe for centuries as merchants and soldiers. Many emigrated to France, Poland , Italy and the Netherlands. Recently some scholars suggested that up to 250,000 Russians may have Scottish blood.
Significant numbers of Scottish people also settled in Australia and New Zealand. Approximately 20 percent of the original European settler population of New Zealand came from Scotland, and Scottish influence is still visible around the country. The South Island city of Dunedin, in particular, is known for its Scottish heritage and was named as a tribute to Edinburgh by the city's Scottish founders. In Australia, the Scottish population was fairly evenly distributed around the country.
From as far back as the mid 15th century there were Scots trading and settling in Poland. A Scot's Pedlar Pack in Poland, which became a proverbial expression, usually consisted of cloths, woollen goods and linen handkerchiefs. Itinerants also sold tin and ironware such as scissors and knives. Along with the protection offered by King Stephen in the Royal Grant of 1576 a district in Krakow was assigned to Scots immigrants.
Records from 1592 reveal Scots settlers being granted citizenship of Krakow giving their employment as trader or merchant. Payment for being granted citizenship ranged from 12 Polish florins to a musket and gunpowder or an undertaking to marry within a year and a day of acquiring a holding.
By the 1600s there were an estimated 30,000 Scots living in Poland. Many came from Dundee and Aberdeen and could be found in Polish towns from Krakow to Lublin. Settlers from Aberdeenshire were mainly Episcopalians or Catholics, but there were also large numbers of Calvinists. As well as Scottish traders, there were also many Scottish soldiers in Poland. In 1656 a number of Scottish Highlanders who were disenchanted with Oliver Cromwell's rule went to Poland in the service of the King of Sweden.
The Scots integrated well and many acquired great wealth. They contributed to many charitable institutions in the host country, but did not forget their homeland; for example, in 1701 when collections were made for the restoration fund of the Marischal College, Aberdeen, the Scottish settlers in Poland gave generously.
Many Royal Grants and privileges were granted to Scottish merchants until the 1700s at which time the settlers began to merge more and more into the native population. Bonnie Prince Charlie was half Polish, being the son of James Edward Stewart and Clementina Sobieska, granddaughter of Jan Sobieski, King of Poland. The City of Warsaw elected a Scottish immigrant Aleksander Czamer (Alexander Chalmers) as the mayor.
By 1592 the Scottish community in Rome was big enough to merit the building of Sant'Andrea degli Scozzesi. It was constructed for the Scottish expatriate community in Rome especially for those intended for priesthood. The adjoining hospice was a shelter for Catholic Scots who fled their country because of religious persecution. In 1615 Pope Paul V gave the hospice and the nearby Scottish Seminar to the Jesuits. It was rebuilt in 1645. The church and facilities became more important when James Francis Edward Stuart, the Old Pretender set his residence in Rome in 1717, but were abandoned during the French occupation of Rome in the late 18th century. In 1820, although religious activity was resumed, it was no longer led by the Jesuits. Sant'Andrea degli Scozzesi was reconstructed in 1869 by Luigi Poletti. The church was deconsecrated in 1962 and incorporated into a bank (Cassa di Risparmio delle Province Lombarde). The Scottish Seminar also moved away. The Feast of St Andrew is still celebrated there on 30 November.
Gurro in Italy is said to populated by the descendants of Scottish soldiers. According to local legend, Scottish soldiers fleeing the Battle of Pavia who arrived in the area were stopped by severe blizzards that forced many, if not all, to give up their travels and settle in the town. To this day, the town of Gurro is still proud of its Scottish links. Many of the residents claim that their surnames are Italian translations of Scottish surnames. The town also has a Scottish museum.
It is said that the first people from the Low Countries to settle in Scotland came in the wake of Mathilda's marriage to the Scottish king, David I, during the Dark Ages. Craftsmen and tradesmen followed courtiers and in later centuries a brisk trade grew up between the two nations: Scotland's primary goods (wool, hides, salmon and then coal) in exchange for the luxuries obtainable in the Netherlands, one of the major hubs of European trade.
By 1600, trading colonies had grown up on either side of the well-travelled shipping routes: the Dutch settling along the eastern seaboard of Scotland; the Scots congregating first in Campvere – where they were allowed to land their goods duty free and run their own affairs – and then Rotterdam, where Scottish and Dutch Calvinism coexisted comfortably. Besides the thousands (or the estimated over 1 million) of local descendants with Scots ancestry, both ports still show signs of these early alliances. Now a museum, 'The Scots House' in Vere was the only place outside Scotland where Scots Law was practised. In Rotterdam, meanwhile, the doors of The Scots International Church have remained wide open ever since 1643.
Historically, Scottish people have spoken many different languages and dialects. The Pictish language, Norse, Norman-French and Brythonic languages have been spoken by descendants of Scottish people. However, none of these are in use today. The remaining three major languages of the Scottish people are English, Lowland Scots (various dialects) and Gaelic. Of these three, English is the most common form as a first language. There are some other minority languages of the Scottish people, such as Spanish, used by the population of Scots in Argentina.
After the Union of Crowns in 1603, the Scottish Court moved with James VI & I to London and English vocabulary began to be used by the Scottish upper classes. With the introduction of the printing press, spellings became standardised. Scottish English, a Scottish variation of southern English English, began to replace the Scots Language. Scottish English soon became the dominant language. By the end of the 17th century, Scots Language had practically ceased to exist, at least in literary form. While Scots remained a common spoken language, the southern Scottish English dialect was the preferred language for publications from the 18th century to the present day. Today most Scottish people speak Scots-English which encompasses a lot of words from the old Scottish language which can be confused as either a heavy accent or being slang. Words like 'Ken' (Know or Knowledge of), 'Ben' (Through), 'Couerie' (Snuggle, Embrace), 'Keek' (To Peek, Look).
However Scottish people read and write in Standard English and rarely spell words in the old Scots way, even though they will still pronounce most that way. Example 'Head' spelled 'Heid' in old Scots is still pronounced 'Heid' by Scots but spelled 'Head'. This once again leads to the incorrect assumption that Scots-English is an accent not a dialect.
Lowland Scots, also known as Lallans or Doric, is a language of Germanic origin. It has its roots in Northern Middle English. After the wars of independence, the English used by Lowland Scots speakers evolved in a different direction to that of Modern English. Since 1424, this language, known to its speakers as Inglis, was used by the Scottish Parliament in its statutes. By the middle of the 15th century, the language's name had changed from Inglis to Scottis. The reformation, from 1560 onwards, saw the beginning of a decline in the use of Scots forms. With the establishment of the Protestant Presbyterian religion, and lacking a Scots translation of the bible, they used the Geneva Edition. From that point on; God spoke English, not Scots. Scots continued to be used in official legal and court documents throughout the 18th century. However, due to the adoption of the southern standard by officialdom and the Education system the use of written Scots declined. Lowland Scots is still a popular spoken language with over 1.5 million Scots speakers in Scotland. The Scots language is used by about 30,000 Ulster Scots and is known in official circles as Ullans. In 1993, Ulster Scots was recognised, along with Scots, as a variety of the Scots language by the European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages.
Scottish Gaelic is a Celtic language with similarities to Irish Gaelic. Scottish Gaelic comes from Old Irish. It was originally spoken by the Gaels of Dál Riata and the Rhinns of Galloway, later being adopted by the Pictish people of central and eastern Scotland. Gaelic (lingua Scottica, Scottis) became the de facto language of the whole Kingdom of Alba, giving its name to the country (Scotia, "Scotland"). Meanwhile, Gaelic independently spread from Galloway into Clydesdale. The predominance of Gaelic began to decline in the 13th century, and by the end of the Middle Ages Scotland was divided into two linguistic zones, the English/Scots-speaking Lowlands and the Gaelic-speaking Highlands and Galloway. Gaelic continued to be spoken widely throughout the Highlands until the 19th century. The Highland clearances and the Education Act of 1872, which actively discouraged the use of Gaelic in schools, caused the numbers of Gaelic speakers to fall. Many Gaelic speakers emigrated to counties such as Canada or moved to the industrial cities of lowland Scotland. Communities where the language is still spoken natively are restricted to the west coast of Scotland; and especially the Hebrides. However, large proportions of Gaelic speakers also live in the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland. The 2001 UK Census showed a total of 58,652 Gaelic speakers in Scotland. Outside Scotland, there are communities of Scottish Gaelic speakers such as the Canadian Gaelic community; though their numbers have also been declining rapidly. The Gaelic language is recognised as a Minority Language by the European Union. The Scottish parliament is also seeking to increase the use of Gaelic in Scotland through the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. Gaelic is now used as a first language in some Schools and is prominently seen in use on dual language road signs throughout the Gaelic speaking parts of Scotland. It is recognised as an official language of Scotland with "equal respect" to English.
Saint Ninian (c. 360–432), is credited with bringing Christianity to Scotland. He was born in the Roman province of Valentia which is either modern day Galloway or Cumberland. At about the age of twenty, he went to Rome to study theology. He stayed there for fifteen years and was ordained as a Bishop by Damasus around the end of the 4th century. He was sent back to preach to his native people. He built his church in the Roman province of Valentia in the town of Leucapia, now called Whithorn in Galloway, Scotland. The local tribe was called the Novantes. He constructed the first church in Britain to be made of stone. He named the church Candida Casa, which means "white house". He traveled throughout Scotland, and converted the Picts (aka Caledonians) to Christianity.
In 431, Saint Palladius was sent by Pope Celestine I to be Primus Episcopus – first bishop of the Scots believing in Christ. At this time, "the Scots" referred to the Gaels of western Scotland and Ireland. Palladius's work is not well recorded and is often confused with Saint Patrick. Some time between 457 and 461, Palladius died. He is thought to have been laid to rest at a place called Forgund or Fordun in the village of Auchenblae in the Mearns district of Scotland.
Saint Patrick (died 17 March 493), is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland and is the patron Saint of Ireland. In 563, Saint Columba (7 December, 521 – 9 June, 597) left Ireland with twelve companions and founded a church on the small island of Iona. This became the central hub of Christianity in the Highlands of Scotland. Saint Margaret, Queen of Scotland, was instrumental in moving the Scottish Church closer to Rome. Throughout the Middle Ages, Scotland remained Roman Catholic.
Lutheran ideas were introduced to Scotland in the 16th century. Although they were initially suppressed and outlawed by the state, Protestant Presbyterianism became popular. This was the Scottish Reformation. Bolstered by reformers such as John Knox, the Reformed Church became the established church in Scotland with an act of 1560. This developed into the Presbyterian church.
Religious ideology was to be a driving force throughout the 17th century. The Covenanters were to play an important role in the wars and in the later reinstatement of Charles II. Though Charles then turned persecutor, trying to stamp out the Covenanters. Many of the Covenanters emigrated to the "new" lands of America and Canada which were then seeing an influx of immigrants.
The 18th century would again see the Scottish people at war, with the mainly Catholic led Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745. Lowland Scots tended to support the English, Protestant Hanoverian King's red coats while the Highlanders and others stood with the Jacobites against the Hanoverian forces.
The modern people of Scotland remain a mix of different religions. The Protestant and Catholic divisions still remain in the society. In Scotland the main Protestant body would be the Church of Scotland which is Presbyterian. The mother church for Presbyterians is St Giles Cathedral. In the United States, people of Scottish and Scots-Irish descent are chiefly Protestant, with many belonging to the Baptist or Methodist churches, or various Presbyterian denominations.
The Modern game of Golf originated in Scotland.
Many Scottish surnames have become "Anglicised" (made to sound English) over the centuries. Davidson, Bruce (originally Brus), Campbell, Salmond, Marshall, Christie and Joy are just a few of many examples. This reflected the gradual spread of English, also known as Early Scots, from around the 13th century onwards, through Scotland beyond its traditional area in the Lothians. It also reflected some deliberate political attempts to promote the English language in the outlying regions of Scotland, including following the Union of the Crowns under King James VI of Scotland and James I of England in 1603, and then the Act of Union of 1707 and the subsequent defeat of rebellions.
However, many Scottish surnames have remained predominantly Gaelic albeit written according to English orthographic practice (as with Irish surnames). Thus MacAoidh in Gaelic is Mackay in English, and MacGill-Eain in Gaelic is MacLean and so on. Mac (sometimes Mc) is common as, effectively, it means "son of". MacDonald, MacAulay, Balliol, Gilmore, Gilmour, MacKinley, MacKintosh, MacKenzie, MacNeill, MacPherson, MacLear, MacDonald, MacAra, Craig, Lauder, Menzies, Galloway and Duncan are just a few of many examples of traditional Scottish surnames. There are, of course, also the many surnames, like Wallace and Morton, stemming from parts of Scotland which were settled by peoples other than the (Gaelic) Scots. The most common surnames in Scotland are Smith and Brown, which come from several origins each - e.g. Smith can be a translation of Mac a' Ghobhainn (thence also e.g. MacGowan), and Brown can refer to the colour, or be akin to MacBrayne.
The word Scotia was used by the Romans, as early as the 1st century CE, as the name of one of the tribes in what is now Scotland. The Romans also used Scotia to refer to the Gaels living in Ireland. The Venerable Bede (c. 672 or 673 – 27 May, 735) uses the word Scottorum for the nation from Ireland who settled part of the Pictish lands: "Scottorum nationem in Pictorum parte recipit." This we can infer to mean the arrival of the people, also known as the Gaels, in the Kingdom of Dál Riata, in the western edge of Scotland. It is of note that Bede used the word natio (nation) for the Scots, where he often refers to other peoples, such as the Picts, with the word gens (race). In the 10th century Anglo Saxon Chronicle, the word Scot is mentioned as a reference to the "Land of the Gaels". The word Scottorum was again used by an Irish king in 1005: Imperator Scottorum was the title given to Brian Bóruma by his notary, Mael Suthain, in the Book of Armagh. This style was subsequently copied by the Scottish kings. Basileus Scottorum appears on the great seal of King Edgar (1074–1107). Alexander I (c. 1078–1124) used the words Rex Scottorum on his great seal, as did many of his successors up to and including James II.
In modern times the words Scot and Scottish are applied mainly to inhabitants of Scotland. The possible ancient Irish connotations are largely forgotten. The language known as Ulster Scots, spoken in parts of northeastern Ireland, is the result of 17th and 18th century immigration to Ireland from Scotland.
In the English language, the word Scotch is a term to describe a thing from Scotland, such as Scotch whisky. However, when referring to people, the preferred term is Scots. Many Scottish people find the term Scotch to be offensive when applied to people. The Oxford Dictionary describes Scotch as an old-fashioned term for "Scottish".
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