Tour Scotland
Home Page


Best Scottish Books
Scottish DVDs

Odds And Ends

A 'joug' , or Scots pint, is officially about three Imperial pints, or 1.7 litres.

Daniel Boone was Scottish.

Gardyloo, was popular cry in 18th century Scotland. 'Gardyloo' was a warning to anyone walking beneath the crowded tenement flats of Edinburgh's Old Town. Literally it means 'beware of the water', but the slops they emptied out into the streets were not always so pleasant.

According to Scottish tradition, the sound of a dog barking or howling was a bad omen.

In Highland legend the mythical banshees were the spirits of women who had died in childbirth.

Old King Cole, of nursery rhyme fame, was killed when he went to Scotland, by Fergus, a Scottish chieftain.

Walter Scott's 'Bride of Lammermoor' was based on real events in Baldoon Castle, Dumfries, and to this day the bloodstained ghost of the bride, who was murdered or driven insane according to different versions of the tale, is said to haunt the castle.

Arnish Moor on the Isle of Lewis is believed to have been haunted by a figure dressed in 18th century clothing. Spookily, the body of a similar figure was dug from the moor in 1964, since when the appearances of the ghost have ceased.

The town of Ceres in Fife could claim to hold the oldest Highland Games in Scotland. Since 1314 the Ceres Games have been held each June to commemorate the safe return of Ceres men from the Battle of Bannockburn.

The term ceilidh, used now to mean an evening of traditional dance usually with live music, translates literally from Gaelic as 'visit' and was once used more generally to mean a social gathering.

One of Scotland's most famous literary figures, Macbeth, was a real historical figure who ruled the kingdom from 1040 to 1057. Contrary to Shakespeare's version of events, Macbeth did not die until three years after the battle of Dunsinane.

When Robert the Bruce's army attacked the English fort at Kelso it crept near to the fort's walls disguised as a herd of cows.

Munro' is a term for all Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet. The term was coined after the climber Sir Hugh Munro published a set of tables listing all such peaks. There are almost 300 Munros in Scotland, including 12 peaks over 4,000 feet above sea level.

The longest loch in Scotland is Loch Awe at 24 miles long, although Loch Lomond has the largest surface area and Loch Ness the largest volume. Ben Nevis, in the Grampians, is the highest mountain in Britain at over 4,400 feet.

The thistle first officially appeared as the Scottish emblem on coinage around 1470, during the reign of James III.

Carvings of cacti and Indian corn inside Roslin Chapel, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, present fairly convincing evidence that the founder's grandfather, Prince Henry of Orkney, set foot in the New World a full century before Columbus.

Pontius Pilate is said to have been a Scot. According to some he was born in Perthshire when his father was posted there on military service.

William Brodie is said to have inspired R.L.Stevenson's novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. An Edinburgh town councillor and cabinet maker by day, by night Brodie was the leader of a gang of thieves and a compulsive gambler. He was eventually executed for his crimes in 1788.

In 1457 James II tried to, unsuccessfully, to ban football, sometimes known as Soccer, in Scotland, a decision that would not be any more popular today.

Although she never sat on the English throne, Mary Queen of Scots is the ancestor of all the English monarchs who followed her.

Whilst it is currently considered fashionable to wear your family's tartan, this habit has little historical basis and it is better to let good taste be your guide. However, to fabricate a link to a family with whom you have no connection is considered a serious error in some circles.

The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh boasts the world's largest collection of rhododendrons.

Edinburgh Castle is haunted by the ghost of a headless drummer who is said to appear only when the castle is about to be besieged. His first recorded appearance was in 1650 just before Cromwell attacked.

Dalry House in Edinburgh is reputedly haunted by a one armed ghost. The spirit is supposedly of John Chiesly, a man who had his arm chopped off as punishment for shooting Sir George Lockhart. Rumour has it, though, that the ghost is 'armless.

A recipe has survived from 18th century Edinburgh for 'Bride's Pie', an odd mixture of calf's feet, apples, raisins, cinnamon, brandy and champagne.

The 1986 film Highlander stars French actor Christopher Lambert as the eponymous highlander, and a native Scot, Sean Connery as a Spaniard.

In 1899 a Chicago judge ruled that the bagpipes were not a musical instrument.

R.L Stevenson's ancestors are almost as famous as he is, but for feats of engineering rather than the written word. In particular they designed and built a large number of Scotland's lighthouses, causing the famous author to write that he 'might write books till 1900 and not serve humanity so well'.

Scotland's longest single-word place name is Coignafeuinternich in Inverness-shire. The shortest is I, the Gaelic name for Iona.

Edinburgh is on the same line of latitude as Moscow.

It was a practice of Scottish midwives to sometimes place whisky in a new born baby's mouth to ward off the evil eye.

One of Scotland's most notorious witches was Isobel Gowdie, who claimed in her trial in 1662 that she had made a pact with the devil fifteen years earlier which had enabled her to fly and turn into a cat.

Prestwick Airport proudly lays claim to being the only place in Britain to have been visited by Elvis Presley, the visit taking place on 2 March 1960.

Scotland's last witch trial was in 1722, when Janet Horne was sentenced to death by burning in a tar barrel.

The first book on clan tartans did not appear until 1819 and listed 100 key patterns, but since then the number of officially recognised tartans has risen to over 2,000 - and is still growing.

The Duke of Atholl is officially the only person in the United Kingdom allowed to raise a private army.

The word dunce is thought to come from the term for the followers of Duns Scotus, a renowned philosopher born in Duns around 1265. The pedantry of their school of thought led to their name being equated with stupidity.

Contrary to popular belief haggis was enjoyed in England as well as Scotland up until the end of the 18th century, and only acquired its particular Scottish identity from the Robert Burns poem 'To a Haggis'.

Neeps' 'n' Tatties are the classic accompaniment to haggis, and are remarkably simple to make. Just peel, chop and boil roughly equal quantities of potato and turnip or swede, and then drain and mash them together with a little butter and seasoning. Make sure you don't forget the haggis.

Scotland has 790 islands, of which only 130 are inhabited. At the other end of the scale, roughly 65% of the Scottish land mass sits at over 400 feet above sea level.

The area of North America now known as Nova Scotia was colonised by the Scots in 1625, but they were forced out in 1632 by the French, who had a prior claim to the region and named it 'Acadia'. It only reverted to Nova Scotia in the 18th century, following the British conquest of French Canada.

Beneath the City Chambers in Edinburgh lies Mary King's Close, a street that was closed off and sealed up following the plague of 1645 and has since been built over. Today , tours of the close are conducted for tourists, and a number of ghostly sightings have been recorded.

Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh's Holyrood Park is all that remains of the Edinburgh volcano, which erupted around 325,000,000 years ago. The volcano also included the Castle Rock and Calton Hill.

The Forth Railway Bridge took seven years to construct, and consists of 54,000 tons of steel held together by over 8,000,000 rivets.

Not only does Scotland have its own Washington, near Coupar Angus, but it also has a village called Moscow just north-east of Kilmarnock.

Originally Castle Rock in Edinburgh marked Scotland's border with England. Following Malcolm I's victory over the Northumbrians in 1018 the border was moved south to the River Tweed.

Herring fishing was once one of Scotland's strongest industries, 2,000,000 barrels of herring having been sold at its peak around 1910-12. Herring also featured prominently in Scottish poems and folk songs and they even inspired the novel The Silver Darlings by Neil Gunn.

Scotland boasts the oldest ecclesiastical building in Britain, a 6th century cell Eilach an Naoimh, one of the Garvellach Islands, off the coast of Argyll.

Cairngorm quartz is a crystal of smoky brown or yellow colour, named after the range of Scottish mountains in which it is found.

Ben MacDhui, the highest peak of the Cairngorms, lays claim to its own Yeti known, rather unimaginatively, as the 'Big Grey Man'.

When the Pictish king Nechtan admired the beauty of her eyes, St Triduana plucked them out and sent them to him, speared on a thorn. During the Middle Ages people would visit St Triduana's Well in Restalrig (now part of Edinburgh) seeking a cure for their eye complaints.

The Book of Kells, one of the finest illuminated manuscripts to have survived from the Celtic period, is thought to have been started and possibly completed at Iona Abbey, even though it now rests in Trinity College, Dublin.

Fettes School in Edinburgh includes British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the author Ian Fleming and Fleming's most famous creation, 007 James Bond, amongst its illustrious alumni.

The 'Lost Clan' is the name given to the descendants of the elite Scottish guard which once served the French monarchy. In 1525 members of this guard were caught in blizzards while crossing the Alps and decided to settle there. It is believed that members of the 'Lost Clan' still inhabit the area.

Whilst Scotland may be more famous for its whisky than for its beer, the first recorded alcoholic drink to have been produced in the country was heather ale, believed to have been made by the Picts.

Shortbread is remarkably simple to make. Measure equal weights of plain, self-raising flour and butter. and half the amount of caster sugar. Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the sifted flours to produce a dough. Press into a baking tray and cook on a low heat for an hour.

In 1950 the Stone of Destiny was stolen from Westminster Abbey and hidden in Arbroath. Opinion is divided upon whether this was the action of Scottish Nationalists or a daring band of students.

Tiree, the name given to the island in the Inner Hebrides, translates from Gaelic as 'the kingdom under the waves'.

One of the more unusual theories on the origin of the term 'Scot' is that it is derived from the name of Scota, an Egyptian princess who brought the Stone of Destiny across to Scotland.An alternative claim states that the word Scot originates from the Latin word for pirates.

There are now about 25,000,000 million people of Scottish lineage living abroad, compared with only 5,000,000 in Scotland itself.

It is considered lucky in Scotland if your first visitor on New Year's Day is a tall, dark man bearing a gift of shortbread, a black bun - or a lump of coal.

The buttons on the sleeves of traditional Highland dress have their origins in the British army - they were introduced to stop soldiers wiping their noses on their sleeves.

Porridge - Here is one of the many ways to prepare this classic Scottish dish. Boil half a pint of water then slowly stir in 1oz of oatmeal. Simmer gently for about 25 minutes, adding a little salt halfway through, then leave to stand for 2 minutes before eating. Traditionally porridge is served in one bowl, with cold milk in another. Each spoonful of porridge is dipped into the milk before it is eaten - but on no account should any sugar be added.

In 1941 an Italian newspaper reported that the wartime bombing of Scotland had succeeded in killing the Loch Ness Monster.

The oldest known recorded sighting of the Loch Ness Monster was made by the 7th century monk Adamnan in his biography off the Christian missionary St Columba. Adamnan wrote that Columba subdued the beast when it attacked his followers.

Haggis is traditionally made from minced sheep's intestines, beef suet, oatmeal, onion, cayenne pepper and nutmeg, stuffed into a sheep's stomach and boiled for three hours.

The word tartan originally referred to a type of material rather than a pattern, and was not unique to Scotland Over the past two centuries, however, the Scots have undoubtedly made it their own. The common American usage of the word plaid to mean a tartan pattern seems to have developed from a misunderstanding - in Gaelic plaid simply means blanket.

Many locations in America were nostalgically named after the places the Scottish immigrants had left behind. There are eight Aberdeens, eight Edinburghs, seven Glasgows and eight places, simply known as Scotland, in the United States today.

Before the Declaration of Arbroath, Scotland was organised under a clan system. Many members of the great clans travelled to the New World and named the places in which they settled in honour of their clan names. Today there are areas named Campbell, Cameron, Crawford and Douglas, throughout the US.

The common Scottish surname suffix Mac or Mc can be seen at the start of many area names; in North Carolina alone there are 130 such places.

Central to life at the time of mass immigration to the United States was the Kirk (Scottish word for the church). When the Scots moved to America, they brought their religion of Presbyterianism with them. Today the Presbyterian Church has over 3million members and, is one of the largest mainstream Protestant churches in the US.

Education has always played an important part in Scottish society, and these Scots played a crucial role in the early development of the New World. Most headmasters of the schools in the new colonies south of New York were Scottish or of Scottish ancestry. These establishments were fundamental in the education of America's future leaders; both Thomas Jefferson's and John Rutledge's tutors were Scottish immigrants.

Tour Scotland
Tour Edinburgh
Tour Island Of Skye

Rent A Self Catering Hoilday Cottage In Scotland

Share This Tour Scotland Web Page

Top Destinations
Tour Europe