10 Top Moments in History
1. St Columba Founds a Monastery on Iona
In 563 this fiery Irish missionary went into self-imposed exile on Iona (known as the “home of Christianity” in Europe), and here he founded a monastery. Columban monks travelled widely, consolidating the Christian faith and thus unifying Scotland’s tribes into one nation.
2. Battle of Bannockburn
Facing an English onslaught in 1314, the Scots – led by Robert the Bruce – achieved a dazzling victory. By defeating the English, the Scots won back their nation and their pride. Their right to independence was ratified by papal bull in 1329, though the war with England continued for another 300 years.
3. Battle of Flodden
To assist France, James IV invaded England in 1513 and met the enemy just over the border at Flodden. In the massacre that followed, some 10,000 Scots died, James included, and, as his heir was still an infant, a power struggle and an era of instability ensued. - read more
4. John Knox Leads the Reformation
Scotland was a Catholic country when Mary Queen of Scots ascended the throne. But in 1559, a revolutionary preacher called John Knox denounced Catholicism and heralded the Reformation. Protestantism was introduced to Scotland, and for the next 150 years religious intolerance was rife. - read more
5. Union with England
When Elizabeth I died without an heir, James VI of Scotland succeeded her. He became James I of England in 1603, thus uniting the crowns. After Scotland was bankrupted by the disastrous Darien expedition, which failed to establish a colony in Panama, union with England became an economic necessity. The 1707 Act of Union united the Scottish and English parliaments, effectively dissolving Scottish Parliament.
6. Battle of Culloden
In 1745, James VII’s grandson “Bonnie Prince Charlie” secretly sailed from France to Scotland to reclaim the British throne. He amassed an army which fought its way to a panic-stricken London. Short of their goal, the “Jacobites” returned north. The Hanoverian army, aided by royalist Scots, slaughtered the rebels at Culloden, the last battle fought on British soil.
7. Industrial Revolution
James Watt’s transformation of the steam engine heralded the advent of the Industrial Revolution, which had a profound effect on Glasgow in particular. The demand for steam forced every coalmine into maximum output, and the production of cotton, linen, steel and machinery boomed. Glasgow became known as “the workshop of the Empire”.
8. World Wars and Emigration
Of the two world wars, it was the 1914–18 war that claimed the most lives: 74,000 Scottish soldiers and almost as many civilians. In addition to this, between 1901 and 1961, 1.4 million Scots emigrated to seek better lives elsewhere.
9. Return of a Scottish Parliament
In a 1997 referendum, the Scots emphatically voted to re-establish a Scottish Parliament. This opened in 1999, returning the political forum to the heart of Scotland after an absence of 292 years.
10. SNP Gains
Scotland voted against independence in 2014, but the Scottish National Party (SNP) achieved an unprecedented result in the 2015 UK election, gaining 56 out of the 59 seats in Scotland; these MPs now sit in the UK Parliament at Westminster.