When people think about Scotland, they may think of bagpipes, Irn-Bru and kilts, but we’ve done some digging and found some facts we believe you may not know about the country north of Hadrian’s Wall!
48 hour guide to Scotland
1. If you fancy an island getaway you’re in luck
The Maldives and the Seychelles are the first places that come to mind if you’re asked which country’s have the most islands, but incredibly Scotland has 790. One of which was often visited by royalty in the 19th century as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert loved visiting, while other famous figures like John Keats and William Wordsworth often stayed there.
2. It’s no Uni-corny joke!
You’re not going to believe it…Scotland’s national animal is the unicorn -- yes that’s right, the mythical creature that doesn’t actually exist! It’s thougth to have originated because in Celtic mythology the unicorn symbolised innocence, purity and healing powers and it was introduced by William I onto the Scottish coat of arms in the 12 century and it remains on the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom today.
3. You should consider tree-ting yourself to a little piece of history
The Fortingall Yew tree, based in the heart of highlands of Perthshire, is believed to be between 3,000 and 6,000 years old, and no you’re not ‘trunk’, it really is that old! This would make it one of the oldest in Europe and quite possibly the oldest in the United Kingdom. Its girth was recorded at an incredible 56 feet in 1769.
4. Golf was once a bit of an absen-tee in Scottish life!
FORE! We’re about to hit you with a great Scotland fact. Despite golf invented in Scotland it was banned by King James II of Scotland, along with football, as he was concerned the sports were distracting his soldiers from their archery practice. It was initially banned in 1457, but further bans in 1471 and 1491 suggest the King may have driven a wedge between himself and the Scottish people.
5. The paws-ibly very fascinating story of Traquair House
The 5th Earl of Scotland said in 1745 that the Bear Gates outside the country’s oldest inhabited house Traquair would not reopen until the Stuarts were back on the throne. It was originally a hunting lodge for the country’s monarchs, but it’s more famous for the Bear Gates which have stood outside since 1739.
6. It’s not irr-elephant, it’s just a surprise!
Have you ever seen an elephant in the wild in Scotland? The answer to that will be no (hopefully). But somehow the country is hugely successful at the sport of elephant polo. Most of you probably didn’t know The World Elephant Polo Championships exists, and may be even more shocked that Scotland is good at it. An impressive 11 Scots have won the trophy since its formation in 1983 with East Lothian resident Samantha Prentice last leading an all-female team to victory in December 2014.
7. Hadrian’s got a little brother
No we’re not going to tell you about Hadrian’s Wall because you all know about it, but you may not have heard of its little brother, the Antonine Wall. This wall was built 20 years after its famed neighbour in 140 AD by Antoninus Pius who was successor to, yes that’s right, Emperor Hadrian. At 36 miles long it is quite a lot shorter than it’s bigger brother which is 84 miles in length.
8. Plane and simply…that is quick!
One minutes 14 seconds. That is how long the one-and-a-half miles flight from Westray to Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands takes in total making it the shortest scheduled flight in the world. The flight is operated by Loganair and in ideal weather conditions it could be completed in an incredible 47 seconds.
9. It could be quite ear-itable having a chat in here
An echo at Inchindown oil storage tanks in Ross-shire lasted an incredible 112 seconds according to official recordings. This means it is the longest echo in a man-made building. The average echo length in an opera house at mid-frequency is 1.2 seconds. At 125 Hertz, a frequency typically made by a tuba, the reverberation time was 112 seconds. At the mid-frequencies the reverberation time was 30 seconds, while the Guiness World Record length was the broadband reverberation time, which considers all frequencies, at an amazing 75 seconds.
10. You don’t look bad for your age
One of the oldest structures in the world, Skara Brae is a village based in Scotland, and is nicknamed the ‘The Scottish Pompeii’ because of how well it has been preserved. Even famous structures such as Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza were built after Skara Brae which is believed to have been built around 3100 BC.
11. Scot-ing all over the world!
If you fancied a bit of sunbathing in Scotland you’re only 500,000,000 years late…yes that’s right, the country’s land mass is thought to have once been separate to the rest of the United Kingdom, including England and Wales. Instead it was part of what we now call North America and was much closer to the equator so the weather may have been (slightly) better, it’s just a shame nobody was there to enjoy it!