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69 Interesting Facts about Scotland Most People Don’t Know

Haggis, loch monsters, whisky, tartan – Scotland is known for many different things to different people and is a fascinating country with an intriguing history.

Here are 69 interesting facts about Scotland you might not know.

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69 Interesting Facts about Scotland

  1. The world’s first color photograph was taken of a Tartan Ribbon in Scotland.

2. The United Kingdom’s most remote bar is The Old Forge Pub in Scotland. To get there, you can either take a 7-mile ferry or hike 1 mile over rough terrain.

3. In Gaelic, Scotland is called “Alba.”

best things to do in scotland highlands
Glen Coe in Scotland

4. The 17th deepest lake in the world is Loch Morar in Scotland, which reaches a depth of 1,077 feet.

5. The land area of Scotland is about the same as the Czech Republic, United Arab Emirates, and Panama.

6. Scotland had cave dwellers until 1915, when it was outlawed.

7. 432 people own half of the land in Scotland. However, outdoor access laws allow privately owned land to be freely walked on and used as long as you leave no trace behind.

dumfries-and-galloway facts abot scotland

8. Scotland wanted to build a replica of the Parthenon, bigger and cheaper to be their National Monument. Construction started in 1826, but due to the lack of funds, was left unfinished in 1829. It has been nicknamed “Scotland’s Disgrace.”

9. Bagpipes were invented in Ancient Egypt and were brought to Scotland by the Roman invaders.

10. Scotland only has eight officially recognized cities – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Perth, Dumferline, Inverness, Dundee, and Stirling.

11. The oldest known tree in Europe is the Fortingall Yew in Perthshire, Scotland. It is between 2,000 and 3,000 years old.

edinburgh tours
View over Edinburgh

12. The most famous Scottish dish is haggis. Haggis is typically made with sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, and boiled with seasoning in the animal’s stomach.

13. Scottish people are more likely to have blue eyes than anyone else in the rest of the United Kingdom.

14. The coastline of Mainland Scotland is 6,160 miles long, three times longer than England’s.

15. Scotland has its version of Stonehenge – the Callanish Stones. They were built around 3,000 B.C. on the Isle of Lewis, and no one knows why the stones were erected.

View from Inverness Castle
View from Inverness Castle

16. The national animal of Scotland is a unicorn. The unicorn was chosen in response to the fact that a lion represents the country of England. What is the only animal that is said to be able to defeat a lion? A unicorn.

Scotland’s royal court of arms used to feature two unicorns. Today the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom represents Scotland with a unicorn.

17. Edinburgh Zoo is home to the only knighted penguin in the world. Sir Nils Olav was adopted by a major in the Norwegian army in 1972 and has served as a Norwegian mascot ever since.

18. As of 2021, 5.5 million people were living in Scotland. Scotland welcomes over 15 million tourists a year. Tourists spend over £5 billion annually and create about 220,000 jobs.

view over edinburgh
Edinburgh Castle sits on the top of Edinburgh

19. Whisky is one of Scotland’s biggest exports, accounting for nearly 20% of the United Kingdom’s food and drinks export market.

20. There are 128 different whisky distilleries in Scotland. Only distilleries in Scotland can refer to their whisky as Scotch.

21. Scotland also produces 70% of the gin in the United Kingdom.

22. The Highland cow is the oldest registered breed of cattle in the world. It was first documented in 1884.

23. The University of Glasgow is the 4th oldest in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1451.

statue in glasgow with orange cone

24. The world’s oldest football was found in Stirling Castle. It was hidden behind an oak panel and was dated back to the early 1500s.

25. Nearly 75% of the buildings in Edinburgh’s city center are listed as historically significant. There are over 4,500 listed buildings in Edinburgh.

26. Edinburgh is the greenest city in the United Kingdom. It has 112 public parks. Glasgow is the second greenest city in the UK with 90 public parks.

27. Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival is the world’s biggest arts festival. It has run in August every year since 1947. Today it features over 3,000 shows held in over 300 venues.

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28. Loch Ness never freezes. The water is thick with black peat, so it retains heat from the sun. The average temperature is around 5 degrees Celcius all year round. There are approximately 263 billion cubic feet of water in Loch Ness.

29. Scotland has over 30,000 freshwater lochs. The five largest are Loch Ness, Loch Shiel, Loch Morar, Loch Awe and Loch Lomond.

30. Ben Nevis in Scotland is the highest mountain in Britain. The summit sits at 4,413 feet. It is a popular trail but don’t underestimate how difficult the climb can be in bad weather.

You might enjoy reading about the top Scottish dog breeds.

views from the climb up Ben Nevis
Views from Ben Nevis

31. Scotland’s geology is one of the oldest in the world. The rocks in the northwest of Scotland are 3 billion years old. At that time the landmass that is now Scotland would have been located at the South Pole.

32. One of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions is John O’Groats. It is signposted as the most northerly point on mainland Britain. However, this isn’t correct.

The most northerly point in Britain is Dunnet Head, which is 14 miles west of John O’Groats. The most north-west point of mainland Britain is Duncansby Head, a 30-minute walk from John O’Groats.

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John O’Groats signpost

33. Scotland has a coastline of 7,330 miles. The border between Scotland and England is 96 miles long. Scotland’s size makes it about one-third of the UK mainland.

34. Scotland has around 790 islands, less than one-quarter inhabited.

35. Hundreds of millions of years ago, the landmass of Scotland was completely separate from the United Kingdom and was joined to Canada and Greenland.

36. It is believed that humans have populated Scotland for 12,000 years.

37. The Scottish clan system was established in the highlands in the 1200s and 1300s. Each clan had its own territory. In order to distinguish between the clans, they each developed their own tartan, which they wore.

what to do in scottish highlands
Kilt Rock the Isle of Skye

38. Scotland became part of the United Kingdom in 1707 when the Act of Union was signed.

39. Scotland has the highest proportion of redheads on earth. About 13% of the population has red hair.

40. Although Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, it is not the largest city based on size. Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland.

41. John Logie Baird invented the television in Scotland in 1925.

42. James Braidwood formed The world’s first fire brigade in Edinburgh in 1824.

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The Mercat Cross Edinburgh

43. Scotland invented golf and St Andrews is its home. The Scots started to play golf in the 15th century. The country has more than 500 greens, courses, and fairways.

44. The smallest distillery in Scotland is Eradour in Pitlochry. It produces only 90,000 liters of whisky each year. However, it receives over 100,000 visitors each year.

45. The world’s tallest hedge is in Scotland. It is over 1,700 feet long and 100 feet high. You can find the world’s tallest hedge near Meikleour on the A93 Perth-Blairgowrie road.

46. Loch Ness isn’t the only lake in Scotland with a monster. Morag is the monster of Loch Morar, which is even deeper than Loch Ness at more than 1000 feet. It is said that Morag is female and 30 feet long with rough brown skin, three large humps and a snake-like head. She is said to have attacked two fishermen in August of 1969.

Loch Morar is ranked as the 17th deepest lake in the world.

North of Drumnadrochit Loch Ness
North of Drumnadrochit Loch Ness

47. The shortest commercial flight in the world is in Scotland. It takes just 47 seconds to fly from Westray to Papa Westray in Orkney.

48. A World War Two fuel-storage facility near Invergordon in Scotland was home to the longest echo ever inside a man-made structure. The echo was recorded in Inchindown tunnels. Researchers from Salford University fired a gun down the tunnels and recorded a 112-second echo.

49. Braveheart was Robert the Bruce’s nickname, not William Wallace. Alas, Mel Gibson bent the truth on this one a bit with his movie.

50. Scotland has three official languages: English, Scots, and Scottish Gaelic. Only 1% of the Scottish population uses Scottish Gaelic.

inverness castle
inverness castle

51. Scotland is home to the UFO capital of the world, Bonnybridge. More than 300 sightings of UFOs are reported in Bonnybridge each year.

52. The oldest building in Britain is the Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae on the island of Orkney. It dates back to 3100 BC.

53. Until 1603, Scotland had its own monarch. When Elizabeth I died, James VI of Scotland also became James I of England, so ruled both countries.

54. Edinburgh was home to Grey Friar’s Bobby. This Skye terrier was said to have sat on the grave of his dead owner for 14 years.

Glasgow street art
Glasgow street art

55. The motto of Scotland is “Nemo me impune lacessit”. This means No one provokes me with impunity. The Order of the Thistle uses this motto and was later used on different versions of the Royal coat of arms.

56. In northeast Scotland girls are called quines and boys are called louns.

57. Aberdeen is the oil capital of Europe and is known as the Granite City.

58. The oldest tree in Europe is in Fortingall, Scotland. It is said to have stood for 3,000 years and that Pontius Pilate was born underneath it.

black cab outside bar in glasgow

59. Charles Macintosh invented the raincoat in 1824. Macintosh was a chemist who was born in Glasgow. To this day raincoats in the United Kingdom are often called Macs.

60. Christianity is the official religion of Scotland. Churches are traditionally referred to as “kirks”.

61. North America has as many Scots as Scotland. It is estimated that Canada and the United States are home to five million people with Scottish ancestry.

62. Scotland has its own legal system where juries can return one of three verdicts: guilty, not guilty or not proven.

63. The Bank of Scotland was founded in 1695 and is the oldest surviving bank in the United Kingdom. It was also the first bank in Europe to print its banknotes.

Glenapp Castle

64. Scotland has 19 universities and institutes of higher education, including St Andrews.

65. Canada’s first two Prime Ministers were Scottish. They were John A Macdonald (1815-1891) and Alexander Mackenzie (1822-1892).

66. Many of Scotland’s most iconic inventions were not created in Scotland. The kilt is said to have originated in Ireland. Tartan has been found in Bronze Age central Europe and bagpipes are believed to come from ancient central Asia.

67. The official flower of Scotland is the thistle.

68. The flat of Scotland is known as the Saltire or St Andrews Cross.

edinburgh tours facts about scotland
Edinburgh rooftops

69. The first official international football match was played at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Patrick in 1872. It was between Scotland and England.

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Joan Ahrens

Sunday 13th of August 2023

Great list to learn from as a Canadian Scott's and 2nd generation American, we will tour there in a month. Thank you Joan REID Ahrens Robertson clan

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