Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)


Capital : Edinburgh

Counties (after 1975)

Borders, Central, Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, Grampian, Highland, Lothian, Strathclyde, Tayside, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Western Isles

A Short History

Scotland was inhabited in the Neolithic period and the remains of settlements of Beaker People remain. In the first millennium BC, the Picts arrived from mainland Europe and there was a strong Celtic influence in the first few centuries BC which is still evident in the Gaelic language and names. The Romans invaded under Julius Agricola in 79-84 AD and defeated the Caledonians at Mons Graupius in eastern Scotland. They never conquered the northern parts (Caledonia) but the area between Hadrian's Wall (built 122-8) and the Antonine Wall (c 142) from the Forth to the Clyde) was, nominally, the Province of Valencia after 142 AD. The Romans called the inhabitants the Picts or Painted People due to their wearing of coloured patterns on their skin. The Antonine Wall was abandoned c185. Towards the end of the Roman period c 500, the Scots under Fergus, son of Erc, migrated from Ireland and settled in the kingdom of Dalriada (modern Argyll). They joined the Picts attacking Hadrian's Wall.

In 563, St Columba founded the abbey of Iona and began to convert the Picts to Christianity. Scotland was part of the Celtic Christian Church by the C6th and C7th but lost much of its island and coastal territory to the Viking raiders in the C9th and C10th. In 843, the Picts, Scots, Britons and Angles were untied under Kenneth MacAlpine. The Norwegian invaders established the Earldom of Orkney (Orkney, Shetland and Caithness) and The Kingdom of the Isles (Northern and Inner Hebrides). Like England, Scotland was part of the Empire of the Danish king, Cnut the Great (Canute), but the Scots took over the entire mainland but Galloway and the far north in the C10th and C11th. In 1018, Malcolm II defeated a Northumbrian army to take control of Lothian but there was no definite English/Scottish border until 1237. Malcolm III married an English princess, Margaret, and introduced several reforms of the Scottish Church.

The Norwegian king, Haakon, was defeated at the battle of Largs in 1263 and the first treaty between Scotland and France (the 'Auld Alliance') was signed in 1295. After subduing Wales, the English king, Edward I, attacked Scotland in 1296 and declared himself king. He seized the Stone of Scone, allegedly the Stone of Destiny on which Scottish kings were traditionally crowned, and removed it to Westminster Abbey. English monarchs have been crowned on it ever since but there is some debate over its authenticity as early descriptions do not seem to tally with the modern appearance of the Stone. In 1297, Edward was defeated at Stirling Bridge by William Wallace and Andrew Moray and his son, Edward II, was heavily defeated at Bannockburn by Robert the Bruce in 1314. In 1326, the parliament at Cambuskenneth was the first to be attended by nobles, clergy and burghs and Scottish independence under Robert was recognised by England in 1328. The first Stuart king, Robert II, was crowned in 1371. In 1513, the Scots under James IV were defeated by the English at the Battle of Flodden.

The country came under Calvinist influence during the Reformation with Catholicism persisting in the Highlands and Islands. Struggles with England had continued and in 1544, Henry VIII's 'Rough Wooing' laid waste to Edinburgh and the borders. James V died in 1542 leaving the kingdom to his baby daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots. She was brought up in France as the wife of the Dauphin and as the First Covenant of 1557 pledged to break with Rome, she was resented for her Catholic tendencies. In 1559, John Knox returned permanently to Scotland to help convert the Scottish Church to Protestantism. Mary was the victim of several plots and was finally executed after a long imprisonment by Elizabeth I of England. Mary's grandfather, James IV, had married Henry VIII of England's sister, Margaret, so Elizabeth, who died childless, made Mary's son, James VI and I, her heir. The crowns were united in 1603. James moved to London and never returned to Scotland. In 1638, the National Covenant condemned Charles I's changes to church ritual and there was a rebellion in Scotland. After the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643, Scottish Covenanters allied themselves with the English Parliament against Charles who was deposed and executed. The Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell, defeated the Scots at Dunbar and Inverkeithig in 1651.

When James II was exiled in 1688, his daughter became queen although he had an infant son, James Edward, (The Old Pretender) by his second marriage. As his mother was a Catholic and James II was suspected of being one, the child was barred from the throne but much of Scotland remained loyal to him and he was styled James VIII and III. The throne went to James' daughter Mary who was married to his nephew, William of Orange. In 1689, Jacobite forces under Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, defeated William but 'Bonnie Dundee' was killed. In 1692, William ordered the Massacre of Glencoe in which many of the Macdonald clan were murdered in their sleep. The Act of Union in 1707 united the Scottish and English parliaments. The Jacobite (from the Latin for James) rebellion of 1715 in support of James Edward Stuart was unsuccessful. A second rising on behalf of his son, Prince Charles Edward (Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender) was also unsuccessful although the prince's army reached Derby before turning back. It was defeated by the Duke of Cumberland, known as 'Butcher' Cumberland, at the battle of Culloden in 1746. Many clan leaders who had supported it were killed or forced into exile and Scotland remained under English rule.

Edinburgh New Town, a layout of fashionable streets and grand buildings, was created by James Craig in 1767. In the Great Disruption of 1843, 400 ministers left the Church of Scotland to form the Free Church of Scotland. Society had remained feudally based but in 1886, the Crofters' Act provided security of tenure and the Scottish Labour Party was founded by James Keir Hardie in 1888. 'Secretary of State for Scotland' became a British cabinet post in 1926. The National Party of Scotland was formed in 1928 and became the Scottish National Party in 1934. During the 1970s, the discovery of oil in the North Sea led to Aberdeen becoming the centre of lucrative oil industry.

Scotland retained a sense of identity as a separate country, probably helped by a separate legal system, but a desire to revive flagging nationalism led to a group of students removing the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey in 1950-1. It was subsequently returned (there are theories that it was only a copy that went back) but in 1996, was 'lent' to Scotland on the proviso that it must be returned for coronations and is now in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh.

In recent years, support has grown for a separate Scottish assembly. In the referendum of 1997, Scotland voted in favour of this. The Scottish Nationalists want complete independence but this does not appear likely at present although Scotland retains its own legal system. A new parliament building of controversial modern design is under construction near Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. The first Scottish parliament since the Act of Union was opened in May 1999.

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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