Some Important Dates and Events in Scottish History:

3000 B. C.ff. Islands north of Scotland were inhabited by unidentified peoples who built stone circles, burial houses and fortified camps, and later earth-houses and brochs.

82 A. D. Led by their general Agricola, a Roman army penetrated north into Caledonia, the region now known as Scotland, and defeated a coalition of Caledonian tribes in an early battle at Mons Graupius (probably near present-day Stonehaven in NE Scotland). The Romans built the Hadrian and Antonine Walls, but were forced to retreat by 208.

397ff. Christianity was brought to Caledonia by evangelizing missionaries, among them Sts. Ninian, Columba and Mungo. The inhabitants of Scotland included the Scots, the Celts (from Ireland), the Picts in the north (who were probably a mixture of Celtic and aborginal peoples), the Britons (the people of the southwest, Strathclyde), and the Angles, who settled in the eastern lowlands (Lothian). Around the end of the 8th century the Scandinavian “Norsemen” occupied the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland and establishing coastal settlements on the mainland.

1034 A series of mergers and inheritances unites the Kingdom of Scotland under Duncan I, introducing a 250 year period of considerable English influence. Competing claims caused unrest, as the Scots sought to annex Northumbria and the English claimed feudal authority over Scotland.

1297 Edward I, determined to subdue Scotland, had destroyed its Great Seal and removed to London the Stone of Scone, on which monarchs had traditionally been crowned. This precipitated an uprising in 1297, led by William Wallace, who at frist defeated Edward’s armies at Stirling Bridge but were later defeated at Falkirk (1298).

1314 Armies led by Robert Bruce (a Norman-descended English landowner) defeated those of Edward II at Bannockburn, Bruce was declared king in 1323, and in 1327 the Treaty of York with Edward III declared Scotland’s independence. In 1371 Robert Bruce’s great-nephew Robert II became the first Scottish sovereign of the house of Stewarts.

1371-1542 Stewart monarchs ruled Scotland during a time of wars with England and internecine conflicts between the monarch and powerful ruling families. After James IV declared war on England to assist the French, his armies suffered defeat at Flodden in 1513. James V continued a policy of French alliances with two marriages to French women, the second of whom was the Catholic Mary of Guise. With the onset of the Reformation, religious differences were added to earlier grounds of hostility between the two countries, and the Protestant English Henry VIII invaded Scotland and defeated James V’s army at Solway Moss in 1542. James died soon after leaving a six-day old infant, later Mary Queen of Scots.

1542-1567 The regent Mary of Guise, hated by Protestants for her policies of intolerance, was deposed in 1559 by armies of the Protestant “Lords of the Congregation” and their leader John Knox, a foe of (among other things) “the monstrous regiment of women.”

The seven-year reign of Mary Queen of Scots was unusually violent. Mary had spent her girlhood in France, marrying the French heir to the throne, who became king in 1559 but died the following year. In 1561 the 19 year-old Catholic Mary Stuart (she changed the spelling of her name) returned to rule Scotland, beginning an unsuccessful struggle for religious toleration for Catholics. In 1565 she married Henry Lord Darnley, a weak man whose behavior alienated many, and who was ambitious for royal perogatives. When Mary’s Italian secretary Rizzio opposed his attempt to become king, Darnley murdered Rizzio in the presence of his wife at Holyrood Castle in 1566, after which he and Mary fled under the escort of the Earl of Bothwell. After Darnley was murdered under suspicious circumstances (the residence in which he was staying was blown up and his stangled body was found in the garden), the Earl of Bothwell obtained a quick divorce from his wife and married Mary in 1567. A rebellion forced Mary to flee with Bothwell, and their forces were defeated at Carberry Hill. Deserted by Bothwell and defeated, she was forced to abdicate in favor of her infant son James (later James I of England). After an escape and a second defeat at Langside, Mary fled to England, where she lived as a prisoner until her sister half-sister Elizabeth ordered her execution in 1587. The sad and sordid story of the young queen inspired much national popular sentiment among all factions.

1603 James VI of Scotland became James I of England, unifying the two thrones but not the two countries. Upon his elevation to the English throne, James showed relatively little interest in his former kingdom, still fraught with religious tensions.

1638 In opposition to Charles I’s attempt to impose a new prayer book with Anglican features, Scottish Presbyterians signed a National Covenat at Greyfriars, Edinburgh. Presbyterians opposed the monarch’s right to appoint ministers or bishops. They favored a simple form of worship devoid of images or ritual, separation of church and state, equality of all ministers and church rule by “presbyters” or local elders. After Cromwell’s execution of Charles I, Scotland supported the claims of Charles II, and during the English Civil War (1651-1660) Scotland was occupied by a Commonwealth army.

1660 After the Restoration, the Scottish parliament appointed bishops, precipitating uprisings by the Covenanters, who were defeated at Rullion Green in 1666 and Bothwell Bridge in 1679.

1679-1688 A period of suppression of the Covenanters, known as “the killing time.”
A supporter of the Episcopal cause especially hated by the Covenanters for his cruel entrapments was the Highlander royalist John Graham of Claverhouse, later Vicount of Dundee, later killed at Killiekrankie in 1689 defending the cause of the Stuart James II against the newly proclaimed English sovereigns William and Mary.

1689 William of Orange and Mary assumed the throne, and William agreed to the abolition of bishops. Highlander chiefs who resisted the oath of allegiance to the new government were forced to surrender by the end of 1691.

1692 Massacre of Glencoe. When Macdonald of Glencoe took the oath late, on January 6th, government agents he and his clan had invited to share their hospitality murdered 40 of his people at night in the dead of winter.

1696 The Estates established the first national education system in Europe, requiring each parish to support a school and master.

1707 The Treaty of Union united the parliaments of England and Scotland. Scotland was permitted to retain its Presbyterian Established Church and separate law and courts.

1708-1745 Highland troops supported the claims to the throne of James II’s son James III, “The Old Pretender,” losing battles in the Firth of Forth, Sheriffmuir, and Glen Shiel.

1727 Last accused witch hanged in Scotland, Janet Horne, accused of conspiring with the devil to cause her daughter’s lameness. She was burned alive in a tar barrel.

1736 Porteus Riots. Captain Porteus’s troops fired on a mob trying to free two smugglers about to be hung in Edinburgh, killing several people. When Porteus was granted a legal stay from execution for his deeds, a crowd broke into the Tolbooth (prison) and dragged him out to the Mercat Cross, where they hanged him. The scene appears in a painting by the historical painter David Wilkes and in Walter Scott’s The Heart of Midlothian.

1745 The second Jacobite rebellion failed when the supporters of James III’s son Charles Edward--the legendary Bonnie Prince Charlie helped in his wanderings by Flora Macdonald--were defeated by the Duke of Cumberland at the Battle of Culloden. Severe reprisals earned Cumberland the sobriquet of “butcher.”

1747 Act of Proscription, repealed 1782, banned Highland dress and martial music. English was imposed in the schools.

1752 Scottish Academy of Art founded by Robert Foulis. Important painters of the century included David Allan, Allan Ramsay and Henry Raeburn.

1761 James MacPherson’s Fingal, claiming to be a translation of Gaelic legends by Ossian, helps inspire a romantic interest in Highland literature.

1774 Death of poet Robert Fergusson in an Edinburgh madhouse at the age of 24, one of several Scottish poets to die in obscurity.

1780-1860 beginning of Highland Clearances. As the clan system was broken up, the crofters lost their rights to the land and chiefs demanded cash rent. Desirous of higher profits, many lords evicted their tenants in favor of sheep farming and the dispossessed left for industrial centers such as Glasgow or emigrated to Canada, Australia or elsewhere. By 1860 the Highlands had been severely depopulated.

1760ff. Scottish Enlightenment movement characterized by high originality and concern for reason, rhetoric and “common sense” displayed in the works of David Hume, Tobias Smollet, Adam Smith, Frances Hutchson and others. Smith’s Wealth of Nations appeared in 1776, Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion in 1779.

1775 Samuel Johnson publishes A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland.

1786 Robert Burns publishes Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect.

1792 Cotton spinning introduced into Glasgow, which becomes a center for weaving mills.

1802 Edinburgh Review founded.

1803 James Hogg publishes his first poem, “The Mountain Bard.”

1814 Walter Scott’s Waverley published.

1818 Susan Ferrier’s Marriage satirizes Highland life, as does her Inheritance (1824).

1821 John Galt publishes Annals of the Parish.

1822 George IV dons the Stuart tartan on a state visit, and visits a restored Holyrood. After the royal family purchases Balmoral Castle in the 1850s, a pattern of Highland tourism subsumes/displaces the earlier political nationalist sentiments.