Scottish symbols... kilts and bagpipes, right?
Well, yes of course, but there are so many more!
For a little country, Scotland has packed a LOT of color, tradition, superstition and magic into it's history.
Many of the most well-known symbols of Scotland date back centuries, and are surrounded by legends, superstitions, folklore and pageantry.
They've often been immortalized in poetry, songs and music, and are tightly woven into the colorful history of this fascinating country.
They include music, plants, historical buildings, ancient Celtic designs, mythical creatures, famous Scots and many more.
First of all let's take a look at some of the most well-known Scottish symbols, the ones most people will think of first...
The Thistle is one of Scotland's most well-known symbols.
It grows wild and free in the Scottish highlands, and is both a beautiful and dangerous plant.
'Scotland The Brave' is Scotland's 'unofficial' National Anthem. The traditional Scottish music and soul-stirring lyrics gets the Scottish blood pumping!
It's one of Scotland's most modern symbols as it was written just over 60 years ago, but that doesn't mean it's loved any less!
The Saltire is the official Scottish flag and has been in use for over 500 years.
But the symbolism of it's design is much older, dating back to the 9th Century AD and the visions of clan warriors.
There are over 3000 Scottish castles, including some of the oldest and most famous castles in the world.
stand as silent reminders of Scotlands' ancient, violent and colorful
history. Each one a unique, magnificent and 'touchable' piece of history
Scottish heather is another beautiful, and natural, Scottish symbol which is famous around the world.
With lots of practical uses, plus a whole host of legends and myths
surrounding it, this humble plant may well be one of Scotlands' most
The fascinating and mythical Unicorn has been associated with Scotland and Scottish heraldry for hundreds of years.
He is wild, fierce, bold and resilient - so the perfect choice for a national Scottish symbol!
Traditional Scottish Kilts are our national costume and a Scotsman wears his tartan outfit with pride.
The simple practical garment first worn by Highlanders, has become not just a striking piece of clothing, but a world-famous symbol of our country.
The Golden Eagle is a magnificent bird who deserves the title of National Bird of Scotland... and efforts are underway to get it for him.
This iconic bird is as wild, courageous and beautiful as the Highlands it calls home.
The above are some of the most widely recognized symbols of Scotland, but they're by no means the only ones. After all, a country as old and history-rich as Scotland is overflowing with symbolism!
Here are a few more things which come to mind when we think of Scotland and all things Scottish....
If we're looking for something to shout 'Scotland' then the bagpipes fit the bill pretty well!
Even though the bagpipes are a easily recognizable Scottish symbol, there are mixed opinions as to where they originated, with some historians believing they may first have been found in Egypt, or even earlier in Greece.
They're also found in many diverse countries and cultures including Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand Sweden, Austria, Spain and more.
BUT... regardless of their initial birthplace, Scotland turned the bagpipes into an instantly recognizable Scottish symbol and Scotland's National Instrument.
In fact, the Great Highland Bagpipes are unique to Scotland, and owe their fame to the Highlanders who developed them into the instrument you see being played at weddings, festivals, ceilidhs, sporting events (including the Highland Games), parades etc.
At one point, during the 18th century, the bagpipes were classified as an instrument of war (due to their success in encouraging and emboldening Scottish warriors in battle) and were banned for some time.
It's true that bagpipe music is woven into the soul of every Scot, and I can tell you from experience that hearing it will cause the hairs on your arms to stand up and your spine to stiffen... no matter how far away, or for how long you've been away, from Scotland!
A dictionary will tell you that the word 'Clan' means many things, including family, tribe, society and kinfolk.
The Scottish clan system has existed since the at least the 1100's, and over the centuries it has been many things and served many purposes.
Clan heritage is hugely important to Scots. It's a sense of belonging, a source of pride, a connection to history and ancestors long passed.
Click here to learn more about the fascinating Clans of Scotland
Scotch whisky (yes, it's spelled without the 'e') has a world-famous, and well-deserved stellar reputation and is an easily recognizable symbol of Scotland.
Know originally as uisge beatha ('water of life' in Gaelic) the earliest written records of Scotch being distilled in Scotland appeared in 1494 in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland.
Scottish whisky is one of the UK's top exports and whisky drinkers around the world know and love a good Scotch.
Click here to learn about the history and distilling of Scotch Whisky (and see a list of the top 10 Scotch Whiskies)
There are many celebrations which are unique to Scotland, and although many countries celebrate New Year's Eve on December 31st, the Scottish celebrate it in their own unique way!
There are a whole host of symbolic Scottish traditions and rituals that surround Hogmanay, including First Footing, Redding, fire festivals and more. Some have roots that go back to paganism, Viking times and Gaelic traditions.
Click here to learn more about the unique, and enthusiastic way Scots celebrate the coming of the New Year!
The Highland Games originated hundreds of years ago as serious competitions designed to test the strength, stamina and bravery of men.
Today they are friendly, but still highly competitive, sporting contests where people compete in a variety of unique and entertaining events including the traditional Toss the Caber, Hammer Throw, Stone Put and more.
Modern additions to the might schedule include cycling, sheep-dog trials and various races.
Highland Games aren't just held in Scotland anymore, but across the globe with contestants and audiences enjoying themselves in places as far flung as the USA, New Zealand, Brazil, France, Germany and more.
Click here to read more about the fun and spectacle that are Scottish Highland Games