The colonisation of Scotland began around 8500 BCE, when Mesolithic hunter gatherers moved north following the receding ice at the end of the Ice Age. The first Neolithic settlements and farming starting about 3500 BCE, around the time of the building of Stonehenge, from when many stones circles and chambered tombs still survive, indicating astronomical alignments. Bronze Age hill forts are evident from 1000 BCE, and by 700 BCE the number of Iron Age brochs and fortified settlements indicate rivalry between various tribes.
Following the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 CE, the invaders headed north reaching Scotland in 79 CE, where they were met with strong resistance by the inhabitants, and in time realised that the prize was not worth the effort and withdrew.
The country of Alba was first formed in the 10th century, when Constantine II, King of the Picts, conquered all the Pictland between the Firth of Forth and the Moray Firth. The Scottish western lowlands of Strathclyde were ruled by Britons, as were the eastern lowlands that from the 7th century came under the control of the Kingdom of Northumbria. During this period most of the Scottish islands were ruled by Norsemen.
Following the Norman conquest of England William disputed the border and invaded Scotland in 1072, defeating Mael Coluim, Malcolm III. Subsequent fighting with the Normans culminated in Malcolm being killed by Arkil Morel, steward of Bamburgh Castle, at the Battle of Alnwick in 1093. By the 12th century King David I, who was pro Norman, was inviting southern lords to take up positions north of the border, in return for being grated the Earldom of Huntingdon, which caused conflict with the local aristocracy.
During the 13th century there was fighting between the Scottish and the Norwegians established in the Western Isles uniting them under the Scottish Kingdom for the first time, but by the end of the 13th century Scotland’s rule was in chaos again when the heir was Margaret, the 4 year old Mid of Norway, great niece of Edward I. Margaret’s early death nearly bringing Scotland to civil war to settle the succession problem, Edward, brought in to arbitrate, chose John Balliol as king but subsequently invaded Scotland deposing him. William Wallace’s forces defeated the English army at the Battle of Stirling, but within 6 months there was a reversal at the Battle of Falkirk, and within a few years Wallace was captured and executed for treason.
At the beginning of the 14th century, Robert the Bruce laid claim to the crown and following the Battle of Bannockburn where he defeated the army of Edward II he managed to get Scotland recognised as an independent country and established Scotland's first full parliament. After his death the Bruce’s body was buried at Dunfermline but his heart was taken to the Holy Land on crusade before being returned to Scotland and interred at Melrose Abbey.
David II, son of the Bruce, married Edward II’s daughter Joan of the Tower, but had no heirs so was succeeded by the first of the Stuart line, Robert Stewart his nephew. When James III married Margaret of Denmark in 1468, Scotland acquired the territories of Orkney and Shetland Islands as her dowry, and James IV who married Margaret Tudor, Henry VII’s daughter, took control of the Western Isles, from the Lord of the Isles in 1503 confirming Scotland’s boundaries.
The historical alliance between France and Scotland was reformed in 1512, and an army led by James IV invaded England advancing through Northumberland to be halted and defeated by the English army commanded by the Earl of Surrey at Flodden Field in 1513, James and many of his Scottish nobles being killed.
In an attempt to get an alliance between England and Scotland, Henry VIII tried to arrange a marriage between his young son Edward and Scotland’s child heir, Mary Queen of Scots, whose failure led to more military conflict. Scotland was largely Protestant and during the English Civil War the Parliamentarians got assistance from Scottish troops who played a major role in the conflict in the north of England especially at the Battle of Marston Moor. This was to start a Scottish Civil War, and led to King Charles I buying off the Scots who invaded England under the Duke of Hamilton, but were defeated by Cromwell’s troops at the Battle of Preston. The Scots objected to the execution of the King, and Cromwell invaded and occupied Scotland, making it part of the Commonwealth, but independence was restored by Charles II.
On the suspicious death of Charles II, despite being contested at the Battle of Sedgemoor by his illegitimate son the Duke of Monmouth, the English crown came to his brother the pro catholic James VII of Scotland. Irritated by events, the English invited his protestant daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange to take the English throne. Whist the Calvanist Scots supported this move, in the Highlands the catholic population revolted.
In an attempt to stop conflict between the two nations, William called for a Union between them, which finally came into being in 1707. Even then the Highlanders objected to the Union, chiefly because the Lowlands benefitted the most. This lead to two more attempts at restoring the Stuart line to the throne.
The first Jacobite Rising in 1715 came to an abrupt end at the Battle of Preston with King James’s son James Francis fleeing back to France. Some thirty years later his son “Bonnie” Prince Charlie made a second attempt at invasion, landing in the Western Isles he raised a Scottish army and marched on Edinburgh. Having taken the city, he marched east to Prestonpans where he met and defeated George II’s government army led by Sir John Cope, who had to retreat to the safety of Berwick. The “Young Pretender’s” army headed south and found no resistance in their advance to Derby. However neither did they find any support for their catholic cause, so they retreated back to Scotland.
The government troops lead by the Duke of Cumberland, the King’s son, caught up with the Jacobites lodging at Nairn. Whilst the government troops held a party to celebrate the 25th birthday of Cumberland, the Scottish attempted a surprise night attack. Unfortunately for the Scots all their manoeuvrings led to no engagement, and they arrived in the morning tired and hungry at Culloden Moor. The government troops vastly out performed and out manoeuvred the badly armed Scottish forces, driving them from the field. Charles famously fled to the Isle of Skye on his way back to France where he died a broken man, and new laws were enforced on the Scottish to prevent any future reoccurrence of revolts.
Surveying the View
Cable Cars Ben Nevis
Spread Eagle, Jedburgh
Abbey Bridge End
Crossing Jed Water
Market Place, Jedburgh
Bay Horse Inn, West Woodburn
Market Place, Melrose
Ship Inn, Melrose
Harmony Gardens, Melrose
Priorwood Gardens, Melrose
(Expensive) Not Recommended