The Scottish people are a mixture of many different ethnic groups throughout the centuries.
In life we often seek to simplify concepts in order to get on with things. While it’s wonderful to delve in and truly understand something, reading endlessly on a subject and becoming an expert, even experts need to simply grasp basic concepts in other areas. Simplification is a necessity. You see this a lot in things like history, document translation and especially ethnicity – it’s much easier to break everyone in the world down to a few easily understandable generalisations rather than get bogged down in the details of a more accurate ethnic representation.
For example, the Scottish people. From a high view they’re a fascinating culture – you can probably picture some of the obvious trademarks of the Scottish – and that general concept is useful. But dig down a little bit and you’ll find that being Scottish is a complicated matter.
The term Scottish stems, ultimately, from the Latin word Scotti, which was used to describe a particular tribe living in 5th Century Ireland; over the centuries it was applied in various ways to other Gaelic or Celtic tribes until finally being applied more or less permanently to the tribes occupying the northern part of the island of Britain.
The people that came to be known as the Scottish themselves are, ultimately, a mix of many peoples. The land today known as Scotland was originally occupied by groups of people known as the Picts and Gaels; these people were never quite conquered by the Roman invaders and continued to live more or less independently in Scotland during the Roman occupation – they are actually the reason that Hadrian’s Wall was built.
Eventually, the Picts and Gaels mixed and combined, and were then joined by the invading Angles and Britons. The Angles brought with them Old English, which slowly displaced the Celtic languages of the other groups and evolved into Scots. Norse invasions also added a Nordic genetic ingredient to the mix – the Scots are, today, the end result of several distinct ethnic groups blending over the course of centuries.
Division & Invasion
In the early Middle Ages Scotland bordered an ancient kingdom known as Northumbria, but after a war with Scotland the kingdom was divided between Scotland and England in the early 11th Century. This combined with migration from England after the Norman conquest of England brought a large number of English and English-speaking people into Scotland, adding a final genetic bit to the mix.
Scotland has always been divided between people who speak Scottish Gaelic (known sometimes internally as “Irish”), Scots, and English. When Scotland became part of the United Kingdom in the 18th Century Scots was heavily discouraged, with the result today that Scots is a minority language that only exists in spoken form, and is often referred to as “slang” by its native speakers.
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