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Summary of Scottish History

Date Event
~8000 BCE End of the last Ice Age
~4000 BCE Sea level rising and growth developing. Migrants from the Danube Valley (Beaker People) crossed the Channel and spread out through Britain, Ireland, and Scotland, introducing agriculture and the smelting of copper and bronze.
~3000 BCE Copper mines developed near the Clyde and free-standing stone monuments erected, such as Callanish on the island of Lewis and the Ring of Brodgar in the Orkneys.
3200 - 2200 BCE The neolithic stone village of Skara Brae in the Orkneys was occupied.
about 2000 BCE Peoples speaking a language related to Celtic settle the northern portion of Britain. They apparently called themselves the Cruithni, which the Romans later represented as Caledoni. They left behind them the round stone towers called brochs and the underground houses called weems.
about 700 BCE Further migrations from the alpine area brought two waves of Celts to the British Isles. The first wave spoke Q-Celtic and sometimes called themselves Goidels or Gaels. They came to dominate in Ireland. Their dialect formed the basis of Gaelic. The second wave spoke P-Celtic and called themselves the Pretani, which the Romans heard as Britanni. They eventually dominated all of Britain south of the Forth-Clyde line. Their dialect formed the basis of the Welsh, Cornish, and Breton languages.
about 325 BCE Pytheas of Massilia circumnavigated the island of Britain, or Pretannia. He apparently visited the islands of Man and Lewis, and the Orkneys before travelling on to Ultima Thule.
43 CE The invasion of southern Britain by the growing Roman Empire on the initiative of the Emperor Claudius, did not initially affect northern Britain (Scotland) or Ireland
80 CE The Romans under governor Cnaeus Julius Agricola invade southern and eastern Caledonia with camps at regular intervals along the line of advance as far as the Spey river in Morayshire. In 83 CE he defeated the combined native forces at Mons Graupius, probably in Perthshire. The Roman historian Tacitus, the son-in-law of governor Agricola, records that before this battle the native commander, Calgacus, said of the Romans "They make a wasteland and call it peace."
114 CE Marinus of Tyre published collected geographical information, which was incorporated into the Geography of Claudius Ptolemy. This provides the names of many locations in Britain including capes, bays, rivers, "towns", and ethnic groups. There seem to be two main sources for the description of Northern Britain: sailing directions for the coastline and the results of the Agricola expedition. In northern Britain, or Albion, Ptolemy identifies the tribes of: Novantae, in south-western Scotland including Galloway; Selgovae, in the upper Tweed basin; Damnonii, Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, Stirlingshire, and southern Perthshire; Votadini, Northumberland and the Lothians; Epidii, Kintyre; Creones, north of the Epidii; Carnonacae, further on; Careni, further on; Cornovii, Caithness; Caledonii, the Great Glen; Decantae, eastern Ross & Cromarty; Lugi, eastern Sutherland; Smertae, western Sutherland; Vacomagi, Moray and Banffshire; Venicones, Strathmore; Taexali, Aberdeenshire.
120 CE Emperor Hadrian (117—138) ordered a wall built along the line from Carlisle to Newcastle to divide the portion of the island that was administered by Rome from the rest.
140 CE The emperor Antoninus Pius (138—161) ordered the border of the empire advanced to the line from the Clyde to the Forth, the narrowest, and therefore most easily defended boundary line in Britain, where a new wall was constructed. However this wall was abandoned later in the century.
208 CE Septimus Severus invades eastern Caledonia. A line of camps reaches the passes leading onto the Moray Firth. He assumed the title Britannicus to celebrate this conquest. However, aside from briefly reoccupying the wall from the Clyde to the Forth, no new territory was incorporated into the empire.
211 CE Septimus Severus dies at York while preparing for a new attack on northern Britain.
235 CE The assassination of the Emperor Alexander Severus starts a fifty year period during which central administration of the Roman Empire broke down as a result of catastrophic plagues, probably the first appearance of measles or possibly chicken pox in the west, and a collapse of the frontier defences which led to raids from across the borders. There were 26 Emperors officially recognized during these five decades as well as many unrecognized usurpers.
260 — 274 CE Roman Britain was part of the Gallic Empire created by the successful general Postumus.
286 — 293 CE To protect Britain and northern Gaul during the collapse of central authority the admiral commanding the Roman Classis Britannica, a fleet in the English Channel declared an independent empire.
296 CE Constantius Chlorus, deputy emperor in the west, restores central authority over Britain, defeating Allectus who had assassinated Carausius. The province of Britannia, that is the portion of the island south of Hadrian's Wall, is reorganized into four smaller provinces intended to prevent any one governor from uniting enough military power to challenge the central government.
297 CE Because of their habit of wearing war-paint the Romans started to call the people north of Hadrian's wall the "Painted ones" or in Latin Picti, as evidenced by the Panegyrici Latini.
25 July 306 CE Emperor Constantius Chlorus dies at Eboracum (York) and is succeeded by his son Constantine.
312 CE Irish and Pictish raiding parties begin attacking the northern and western frontiers of Roman Britain. The earliest use of the word Scoti is in the Nomina Provinciarum Omnium where they appear as Irish raiders who posed a threat to the Roman Empire.
364 CE A marauding force comprising, Scotti, Picti, Attacotti, Saxons, and Roman military deserters terrorized the province of Britain, defeating all local attempts to subdue them.
367 CE The response to the collapse of the military defence of Britain was to send a large force under Count Theodosius which restored order. Naval forces were used against the home bases of the invaders. The British tribes just beyond the Roman frontier, such as the Votadini centered on the Grampian hills south of Edinburgh, were given payments and privileges to encourage them to defend the frontier.
378 CE The historian Ammianus Marcellinus described the Picti as being divided into the Verturiones and the Dicaledones. Speculatively the Verturiones were south of Moray Firth, in the later kingdom of Fortriu, and the Dicaledones lived to the north.
381 CE General Magnus Maximum defeated an incursion of Picts and Scots into Britain.
383 CE Magnus Maximus is declared Emperor and leads much of the military forces of Britain into the mainland of Gaul to contest its rule with the Emperor Gratian. He is defeated by the Emperor Theodosius, the son of Count Theodosius above, but some of the troops never return to Britain. Magnus Maximum appears to have addressed the need to continue the defence of the west coast of Roman Britain by formally establishing local rulers in Wales and south-western Scotland as kings. The traditional genealogies of a number of these kingdoms, including Powys, Gwent, and Galloway, trace their line back to Macsen Wledig.
397 CE St.Ninian founds the monastery of Whithorn or Candida Casa in Galloway, converting many pagan Celts and Picts to Christianity.
407 CE As a result of the invasion of Gaul, modern France, by a barbarian army led by the Siling Vandals, who had not only broken the frontier on the Rhine, but also destroyed the Roman central field army, the the central field army stationed in Britain was transferred across the channel, leaving only second class frontier units in place. Roman Britain, tired of paying taxes to support a military which has abandoned them, drives out the Imperial administration and crowns a series of rival emperors.
410 CE The Emperor Honorius, directly threatened by Vandal and Visigothic attacks which led to the sack of Rome itself, washes his hands of responsibility for Britain. This cuts off Britain's supply of coin, ending the payment of salaries to the remaining military force, and disrupting the distribution of manufactured goods, most significantly pottery. Control passed to a coalition of the fading city administrations, the wealthy landowners, and the native kings recognized by Magnus Maximus. No coinage minted after this year has been found on Romano-British sites.
429 CE Bishop Germanus of Auxerre makes a visit to Britain to counter the influence of the teachings of the theologian Pelagius, a native of Britain (or possibly Ireland), who had lost the contest for orthodoxy with St Augustine of Hippo.
~430 CE Sub-Roman Britain is under the control of a man with the British title Vortigern, early Welsh for "high prince" or overlord. This title was translated into Latin by Nennius as superbus tyrranus or "proud tyrant". Vortigern attempts to secure his realm by settling mercenaries on the frontier. One such group is of Saxons under the leadership of a man nicknamed Hengist the "Stallion", traditionally in 449. He also re-settles a group of Votadini under their leader Cunedda from the Grampian hills south of Edinburgh to Northern Wales to defend against Irish attacks. This settlement is later known as Gwynedd. Irish invaders settled in south-west Wales, founding ruling dynasties in the kingdoms of Dyfed and Brycheiniog (Brecon), both place-names of Irish origin. Also there are hundreds of stone inscriptions in Wales, Cornwall, and Devon that are written in Irish using the Ogham alphabet.
431 CE Palladius, a Gallic deacon probably working in Rome, is ordained by Pope Celestine and sent as the first Bishop to the Irish believing in Christ. He arrived at Wicklow but got into a conflict with the king of Leinster. According to Prosper of Aquitaine he moved on to the Pictish kingdom of Circinn, in Aberdeenshire, where he died about 450 CE.
~500 CE The kingdom of Dalriata is established, centered on the sea between Ireland and western Scotland. It included Antrim in northern Ireland (Ulaid) and Argyll. The traditional story, from the Duan Albanach was that three sons of Erc: Fergus Mór, Loarn, and Óengus, carried out the conquest. Another version, from Bede, is that it was established by someone named Reuda. The name Dalriata can be interpreted as "Reuda's Share".
563 CE The Irish monk St. Columba established a monastery on the island of Iona in the Hebrides from which he set out on missions that converted both Picts and Scots to Christianity. In one famous incident he impressed the Pictish king Bridei of Fortriu at his capital at Inverness.
574—608 CE Reign of Áedán mac Gabráin, greatest king of Dalriata.
603 CE Battle of Degsastan. English forces, under Aethelfrith of Northumbria, deal a crushing defeat to a British force from the kingdom of Strathclyde, and a Scottish force under Áedán mac Gabráin, and take over south-eastern Scotland. The English come to be referred to as Sassenachs from the Gaelic for Saxons.
685 CE Battle of Dun Nechtain in which Bridei mac Beli, king of Pictland defeated the Anglian army from Northumberland, led by Ecgfrith. The Anglians continued to control the area south of the Firth of Forth where the spoken language was the root of Lowland Scots.
793 CE From this point on Viking raids and settlement dominate Scottish events. Iona was sacked in 802 and 806.
843 CE The throne of the Irish kingdom of Dalriata descended through the male line while the Pictish inheritance was more fluid. Kenneth MacAlpin united the two kingdoms because he was heir to the Scottish throne through his father and an candidate for the Pictish throne through his mother. A major motivation for uniting the two kingdoms was to present a united defence against the Vikings.
900's CE Norwegians settled in the Orkneys, the Isles and Sutherland
1016 CE England came under Danish rule (Canute)
1040 CE MacBeth succeeded Duncan (1034—1040) as king of Alba when Duncan died at the battle of Pitgaveny in Morayshire, in part based upon the claim of his wife Gruoch as daughter of the preceding King of the Pictish royal family. Duncan's sons, Malcolm Canmore and Donald Bane ("the Fair") fled to England.
1057 CE Malcom III Canmore returned to defeat MacBeth and assume the throne of Scotland.
1066 CE England conquered by Normans under William I. The Saxon prince Edgar was driven out of England and took sanctuary with Malcolm, who married Margaret, last Saxon princess of England. Malcolm acknowledged the authority of William but then made several invasions of England on behalf of his Queen.
1093 CE Malcolm III killed during a raid on England. The Scottish throne remained in his family until 1290.
1124 — 1153 CE Reign of King David I of Scotland, also known as Dauíd mac Maíl Choluim, the son of Malcolm III and Margaret of Wessex. David spent much of his youth at the Norman court of his brother-in-law King Henry I of England. He introduced administrative changes based upon the the institutions of the Normans. Many of the nobles had joint fealty to both kings, and the English kings always asserted that the King of Scotland owed fealty to the King of England.
1214 — 1249 CE Reign of Alexander II, son of King William the Lion and Ermengarde of Beaumont. He was also closely connected to the Norman rulers of England. Alexander II seized the Isles and the north from the Vikings
1266 — 1308 CE John Duns, commonly known as Duns Scotus, was one of the three most important philosophers and theologians of the Middles Ages. He was born at Duns in Berwickshire, taught both at Oxford and at Paris, and died at Köln.
1292 — 1296 CE There was no recognized male heir and Edward I of England, when asked, named John Balliol, 6th Baron Balliol and a great-great-great-grandson of King David I, as King of Scotland.
1297 CE Revolt by William Wallace against King Edward I of England.
1306 CE Revolt by Robert de Bruce in 1306 resulted in major defeat for King Edward II of England and Bruce became King Robert I of Scotland.
1300s CE David II was made prisoner by the English. A Stewart became regent and on the death of the king became king in 1371 as Robert II. Wars with France, a peasant revolt, the Black Death and the disastrous civil Wars of the Roses left little time for English interference with Scotland,
1500's CE The discovery of America and sea routes to Asia changed attitudes, most significantly in religion, and massively expanded the economy of Europe.
1542 CE After the death of James V in a fruitless attack on England, his daughter Mary became Queen of Scots. She was in problems with the nobility. Mary had spent her entire youth at the French court and had no understanding of the political realities of the Scottish court and people. She chose poor allies and her fervent Catholicism was a constant issue both with her own, largely Calvinist citizens, and with England, ruled by her cousin Elizabeth I.
1567 CE Mary was forced to abdicate and her son became King James VI of Scotland.
1603 CE On the death of Elizabeth I of England, her closest living relative, James VI of Scotland, became King James I of England and Ireland. For the next 104 years the king or queen of England was also simultaneously, but independently, the king or queen of Scotland.
1600's CE The religious reformation movement in the 15th and 16th centuries in Europe extended to England and Scotland and combined with disputes over trade and territories caused almost continuous war. In England religion was a major factor in a revolution that deposed the Stuart kings in 1645, reinstated them in 1660 and again deposed them in 1688 and established William and Mary of Orange as king and queen
1695 CE The government of Scotland, desiring to pursue an independent foreign policy from England, despite the fact that they shared a monarch, invested in an expensive project to establish a colony in "Darien" on the Isthmus of Panama. Facing opposition both from the English and Spanish governments the project failed, bankrupting the Scottish government.
1707 CE Facing bankruptcy the Scottish parliament agreed to formal political union with England, which absorbed the Scottish debts. This union created the United Kingdom.
1700s CE Attempts to return were made by James II in 1715 (defeated at Boyne in Ireland), and his son "Bonnie Prince Charlie" (defeated at Culloden in Scotland in 1745). Repressive measures were strict on the Scots for years, denying them the use of their style of dress and music. With local opportunities constrained Scots became a major factor in the wars that established the British Empire and in the banking and industrial life of the country during the Industrial Revolution.
1800's CE Massive changes in agriculture and industry were accompanied by a sharply rising population but a reduction in the required labour force. At the same time, huge areas of new lands in the Americas and Australia became available. The surplus population of Europe moved to settle these lands. Scots also faced the use of new equipment on the farms and the conversion of marginal land to sheep meant many thousands went into the new industries or emigrated. 40 million moved from Europe (34 million to America, 3 million to Canada, 2 million to Australia) from 1820—1920. Other countries, Italy, Germany, Greece, Russia, etc. had the same problems and contributed to the movement.
1845—1852 The "Great Famine". Failures in the potato crop in Ireland due to blight resulted in the death of about a million people, and forced a million to emigrate.
1900's CE Scotland had a large industrial output and probably the largest population of any time, despite the major emigrations still continuing.
1999 CE Reestablishment of separate Scottish Parliament with control of local matters such as education and the administration of justice.
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