On Visiting Scotland

flower in front of scottish castle

Scotland is old. You just won’t believe how mind-boggingly old it is. You might think the place you live in is old, but have you ever walked through a graveyard older than the United States of America? And the thing is you just get used to it, my primary school has been around since the 1800s. Oh I’m just talking the dog for a walk around the ruins of a fort built by the Romans 2000 years ago. So you thought this was just a nice river you stopped at. Nope some important battle happened here 400 years ago. I think its safe to say that this little country has a lot of history in it.

Two agencies were charged with looking after all that Scottish history. First we have Historic Scotland which is responsible for all of the country’s historic monuments. Then you have the National Trust for Scotland which owns or manages cultural and heritage properties. If you want to look at it another way Historic Scotland is the fun uncle that teaches you how to stuff an entire Mars bar into your face. National Trust for Scotland is that aunt who smells a bit funny and you never see unless someone has died.

Now here is the thing, if you really want to experience Scotland you have to be a part of it. Don’t just stand back and watch. And that is why I recommend you leave that list of National Trust places at home and you visit the castles. Imagine you’re helping defend Edinburgh Castle from the invading Jacobites. Climb to the top of Doune Castle and shout at the unsuspecting tourists below about how their “mother was a hamster and their father smelt of elderberries”. Walk around Culloden and imagine what it would have been like that day. If you want to go visit some National Trust homes, sure do that too. Marvel at the indoor plumbing and comment on how these 200 year old homes really aren’t all that different from what we have now.

But if you really want to visit Scotland, take part, make some memories that will last you a lifetime. If you need to go buy a foam sword from the gift shop, do that too. But if you want to look at toilets then you might be better off staying at home.

51 thoughts on “On Visiting Scotland

  1. Oh how it sounds so delicious and lovely. One of the places on my bucket list for sure. But first, I must conquer those places a bit nearer to home, like my backyard, and then perhaps a store or two 😉 Wonderful blog!

  2. It’s weird, America and its history in comparison with other places. When I lived in Israel, I’d regularly walk past building that had been present for thousands of years. In America, if a building is 100-150 years old, it’s “historic.”

  3. I completely agree about getting used to an area. I live in the desert in the United States which was considered the “Wild West” with a whole bunch of historical gunfights and battles, and people from other areas tell me how lucky I am to live here and all I can think of is how much I’d rather be somewhere else with greenery and rain lol

    1. Except for the allergies, Victoria. I used to live in Arizona and was fine until I moved to Missouri and then Alabama. It was thrilling to see all the green – and breath the air that didn’t crack my lips in five seconds. Now, I miss the desert – the grass may be greener, but so’s the air with pollen (yellow pollen actually just now). 🙂

      1. Oh I know what you mean! I hate allergies :/ but the bad thing is that I’m allergic to many desert plants so I’m always sneezing here lol and we get these really big dust storms where there’s very little visibility and 75 mph winds and the dirt exacerbates my allergies. Speaking of which, dust storm season lasts all throughout spring so I need to prepare many bottles of allergy medication before they start lol 🙂 I guess that’s one hard truth. Regardless of where we go there will always be good and bad things. :/

  4. Nice post. Couldn’t agree more- great to get out and imagine how places were used. There’s a great section of the city wall in York, where some Roman soldiers scratched a grid pattern on the pavement. The grid was to play a kind of ‘nine-men’s morris’ game. I just imagined them, bored, on watch for troublesome locals, chatting away in Latin or Syrian or whatever, playing a game to pass the time. Magic.
    Scotland’s a beautiful country and you’ve every right be proud of its heritage 🙂

  5. Love the Douglas Adams reference! It reminds me of a holiday I took to the US in 1980. I took the opportunity while in “DC” to visit the White House. The actual White House. THE White House. Home of almost every President. The White House. Capital TWH.
    And what did I discover? That there is a medium sized room where the Queen once had dinner. Oh, sure the furniture was nice and the cutlery was nice. The decorations were nice.
    But near where I lived (Leeds, Yorkshire) is a Georgian house called Temple Newsham whose history goes back to the time of the crusades. We used to go there all the time from school. “Where are we this year?” “Oh not Temple bloody Newsham AGAIN!”
    It is bigger and older and grander than the White House.
    I don’t mean any disrespect, but we do get a bit blase about history in the UK and, as one of your posters said, anything older than 100 years is “historic” in the US.
    It’s all relative I guess.

    1. I is, indeed, relative. I loved visiting Scotland. I was fascinated by the age of buildings and the significant events from so long ago. Then, under less than ideal circumstances, I “visited” the lands of ancient Babylon and Assyria, and was overwhelmed again at the age of the land and what it contained from so very long ago. Of course, being of Scottish descent, I remain biased as to which I prefer…

  6. I’d love to visit Scotland one day. My surname is Scottish and I have Scottish blood. As the history lover that I am, I’d love to take in all that such a historical place like Scotland has to offer. Lovely post. 🙂

  7. I love the nod to Douglas Adams and Monty Python! Ah, it made me chuckle so. I have only ever visited Scotland once when I went to Edinburgh for a few days for the Fringe Festival, and although the 12 hour coach journey was somewhat a little horrific, it was one of the most lovely places I have ever been to. I definitely plan on visiting Scotland again! x

  8. I (in the U.S.) always said that if I ever got overseas, the three places I wanted to visit were Scotland, Greece and Egypt. Read about Scotland and especially the Highlands has always intrigued me.

  9. Being of Scottish descent (among others, I am a “Pure-Blood American Mongrel”) I visited Scotland while I was stationed in Germany. Sharing a drink with one of the Royal Army soldiers guarding Edinburgh Castle and he said he was in the “Royal German Army”. He also asked about my Scottish background and when I listed the clans I had ancestors from (Claghorne, Henderson, MacBeath) he said he knew of no feuds between us so we could drink together.
    Talking about history, a lot of people in Scotland that I spoke with were still angry at Edward Longshanks for his attempt to conquer Scotland in the 13th and 14th Centuries.

    But Scotland is one of the few places in the world I want to visit again.

  10. There is a lot to be said for taking the time to experience and reflect on a place, rather than just plod around seeing the sights. Great post!

  11. I’ve always wanted to go to Scotland! I’ve been told that Edinburgh and Glasgow are two main places that I should go if I do! I don’t actually know how I haven’t ended up that way yet, considering I have family there!

  12. I think “Scotland is old” is precisely why it fascinates me so much. We just don’t have that here.

  13. Scotland is fantastic. We spent a couple of weeks touring, starting in Edinburgh and finishing off in Dumfries and Galloway. If you ever plan to visit, allow plenty of time, the distances between places don’t look far, but the roads have to weave and wind through the mountains. The people are friendly, the views amazing and as you said, their is history around every corner. In our 2weeks of touring by car we barely scratched the surface. It’s got to be done 😄

  14. I have visited Scotland many times in recent years, and I must admit it is a beautiful country with an incredible history. I have not yet had the opportunity to visit any of the castles, such as Edinburgh, but these are on my bucket list.

    This was a really enjoyable read by the way, I like your writing style. I look forward to more of your posts :-).

    1. Edinburgh castle is nice. Stirling castle is good too. Not quite as busy as Edinburgh. If you ever get the chance visit Melrose Abbey too! Its a bit out of the way but its really pretty.

      Thank you 🙂

  15. Loved the little Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy reference in the beginning. I really do want to visit Scotland, not just because it’s so old but also because it is so beautiful. But yeah, history is sometimes very mind-boggling.

  16. As a historian, I approve of everything about this post. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t really appreciate the history of a place until you try to put yourself in the shoes of the people who walked that ground before you.

  17. The aunt and uncle part left me in splits! 😀 I never knew Scotland had so much history to it (But then again, I’m a few continents away, so I’m probably excused)…. Made me think about how much (read little) I know about my own history. Nice post with the right dash of humor 🙂

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