Did you know that Scotland is made up of the mainland and about 800 islands?
How about that there are more than 170 languages spoken here but the official languages are English, Gaelic, and Scots & British Sign Language?
Or maybe you’d find it interesting that the man regarded as the first private detective, Alan Pinkerton, was born in Glasgow in 1819.
Scotland is a magical land and amazing travel destination and with its rich and intriguing history, there are some fun facts about Scotland that you should definitely know!
Whether you’ve been to the country a few times or are planning your first visit, here are five fun facts about Scotland to inspire you to learn more about the country when you get there!
1. Scotland is the home of golf
Golf was invented in Scotland and the oldest golf course in the world is found at the Old Course at St Andrews Links. The first recorded game dates back to the 15th century, thought it was banned in 1457 for being too distracting.
The ban only lasted until 1502 as King James IV was eager to tee off and play again and bought a set of golf clubs that same year. Another certain royal was fond of the game, Mary, Queen of Scots is on record of playing at Musselburgh Old Links in 1567.
Today, Scotland is home to more than 550 golf courses and produces some of the top players in the game.
2. The national animal is magical
Scotland’s national animal is the unicorn. No, I’m not kidding. It’s said that in Celtic mythology the unicorn is a symbol of power and purity and it ties into Scotland’s heritage of fighting to remain untamed, free, and unconquered.
William I was the first to use the unicorn on a coat of arms in the 12th century and in 1603 when Scotland and England unified under James VI, the royal coat of arms used depicted two unicorns and a shield. King James III in the 15th century also got in on the use of unicorns and had them printed on gold coins to symbolize their power and strength.
Another animal that’s a Scottish legend is the kelpie, a shape-shifter that tends to take the shape of a horse and haunt bodies of water. Head over to Falkirk to check out The Kelpies, the giant sculptures of the horse heads. Unfortunately there won’t by any unicorn sightings here.
3. Lots and lots of Scotch whisky is exported
Scotland is well known for crafting amazing whisky but it’s also known for shipping the amber stuff out of the country. Apparently 39 bottles of the good stuff are shipped overseas each second. So, not only are people flocking to the country to try Scotch whisky in its homeland, we’re buying plenty of it to keep production facilities quite busy.
While the history of just exactly where whisky comes from is still up for debate (mostly between Ireland and Scotland), the earliest written recording of the drink in Scotland dates back to 1494, so it’s safe to say that the country has had plenty of time to perfect the recipe and create the drink that many love – no matter where it originated from.
4. The Scotland flag references St Andrew
The X on the Scotland flag is said to represent the patron saint, St Andrew, who died on an X-shaped cross. Having St Andrew as their patron saint helped the Scots get protection from the Pope in 1320 as the English tried to conquer Scotland and historians believe choosing St Andrew was a wise choice for Scotland’s patron saint.
In Scotland, November 30 is St Andrews Day and includes celebrations of the country’s patron saint.
5. Football was once illegal
The Foot-Ball Club started in 1824 in Edinburgh and the Scottish Cup is the oldest national sporting trophy in the world. Though some historians believe football, or what we Americans know as soccer, started in the 15th century though it was outlawed by the Football Act 1424 and came with a fine of four pence. Though the law kind of fell off the map in terms of enforcement, it wasn’t officially repealed until 1906!
Thanks to Scotland is Now for these fun facts!
What’s your favorite fun fact about Scotland? Tell us in the comments below or share with us on Twitter!