Scotland’s Unknown History (5 Surprising Facts!)

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There’s so much more you need to know about this country, including its history, structures, and ancient events and happenings which were happened from how many centuries ago.

Some people would like to visit Scotland for vacation, or they would like to explore something about this place for their research purposes.

So, what they need to do is to explore Scotland’s unknown history, including its ancient events or happenings before.

In this way, they will be enlightened about their line of thinking, doubts or confusions, and any query about the history of Scotland.

Embracing the unknown history of Scotland is something that anyone can do to appreciate and realize the happenings from the ancient days eventually.

In this article, researchers and those people who tend to visit Scotland will be given pieces of information pertaining to the important unknown history of the place.

Keep in touch on the succeeding discussions and start learning everything about this country!

The Sgian Dubh


The Sgian Dubh, which many people see this time is a combination of myth, history, and misinterpretation. In Gaelic, Sgian means “knife” while the Dubh means “black.”

Sgian Dubh literally means “black knife” once the etymology of these terms will be combined.

It was commonly believed that the black means that it’s the concealed weapon or hidden knife.

Nowadays, people see ornate handles and scabbards that are covered in pewter, gold, or silver.

The knife which many people witness today isn’t a sleeve dagger or armpit dagger during ancient days; these daggers are also called Mattucashlass during that time.

In 1810, an American journalist named William Duane wrote a military dictionary in which he describes Mattucashlass as an ancient weapon in Scotland.

This weapon is hidden in sleeves and utilized for close combats and fights.

Some other prominent identities like George Alexander, an English actor, manager, and producer of theatre, and Thomas Wilhelm, a Swedish curling coach, and others describe a similar sleeve dagger as an ancient weapon used for thrusting and stabbing in close combats.

Sgian Dubh was already a part of sets of knives utilized by the servants to the skin, clean, and dress meat during ancient times.

The skinning knife has handles of wood or stag antlers; however, bog oak is sometimes being utilized on the skinning knives’ handle.

The ancient history of getting the weapon out from concealment and then placing it on the top hose or top boot to showcase the host they meant means that no unkind drive is correct.

However, it was the hidden dagger and not the modern Sgian Dubh that people see today.

The modern Sgian Dubh, which anyone can witness today, is likely the Victorian idea.

Ancient Colours Term

Ancient Colours Term

When people purchase some tartan materials today, they get various selections of ancient colours, muted, modern, weathered, and many more.

The term, ancient colours doesn’t mean anything from different clans from ancient times; so, it’s not the typical colours being worn by specific clans from 500 or 600 yrs. ago.

To make sure that this concept is true, then anyone may go to the most notable clan tents and places at Highland games.

In those places, someone will share stories about its tale like these specific colours are the authentic colours of specific clans, as they also dyed with some ancient vegetable dyes, combined by hand, or these came from the boiling heather, broom heath, plants, or wildflower - all these things are not true.

The myth began during the manufacturing of tartan in the 20th century and not during 500 A.D.

So, after World War II, ancient tartan terms were given birth.

Since the sales of tartans after this era was gone into a sales slump, they started to think for some innovative ways to sustain the ancient tartans’ lives.

As a result, they provided new names on these materials and associated these materials to ancient colours for symbolic and meaningful impact.

Moreover, some manufacturers decided on these ancient to address the name of these new lighter colours; thus, the myth started and born.

To simply explain it, once a person purchased a new set of jeans or pants, then most part of it is coloured with dark blue indigo. Then, after a few years of wearing and washing, its colours start to fade into light blue, then off to white or grey.

Slavery in the Country of Scotland

On April 1666, Edinburgh’s city fathers were exporting vagabonds and beggars since these people are categorised as not suitable to stay in the kingdom.

Then, there’s a ship which was named as “Phoenix,” headed by Capt. James Gibson sailed from the Leith and loaded with poor and unfit people to be traded in Virginia.

These poor and unfit people are considered as commodities or articles of trade in Virginia in exchange for firewood or tobacco.

On February 1659, some traders in Barbados asked some shiploads of vagabonds and beggars to be traded on the block; so, the council of the Burgh was so delighted to comply because this would mean the clearing of the streets in Edinburgh by getting rid of unfit or poor ones.

The majority of men or women became slaves in the country and started to work in coal mines up to 1799.

The socio-economic status of these slaves is being passed to their kids since this is hereditary during ancient times.

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The Term Scots

Scots and bagpipes

Of course, this terminology refers to those people from Scotland. However, this term has its own history of why it is being called or named like that.

The term of Scoti, Scotti, Scotia, or prominently known as Scot, was utilized by Romans to label those Gaelic raiders from Ireland

At some point, Paulus Orosius, an English historian and geographer in the 3rd century, utilizes the word Scoti to label the individuals from Hibernia.

For several years now, lots of continental writers continuously use the word Scot and Scotia when they are referring to the Irish or Ireland.

They have even designated scholars from Ireland by “Scotus” term.

And it was written in history that Ireland was then called “Scotia Major” and Scotland as “Scotia Minor.”

During the 11th century, the term Scotia was then utilized to describe those people from Northern Britain.

Then, the church of the Roman Catholic headed by Pope Leo X, removed the confusion of the people by providing Scotland with a limited right to these terms – Scoti, Scot, Scotia, or Scotti.

However, how did these Scots become Scots just like many people know them today?

Anyone should remember that way back in the previous years, the present days of Scotland were the hometown of Picts.

For better understanding about this matter, it is important to go back to ancient times – back to the kingdom on Ireland, which is called Dalriada, and is being thought to had been in Ulster Ireland.

During the 6th century, Fergus, who is a descendant of Mor Macerc in Carbi Riada, came to the territory of Dalriada. Fergus was accompanied by his brothers named Angus and Loam.

They had many followers and brought those followers to Scotland; this intrusion to Alba was considered now as Argyll.

The main port or town was in Dunadd on this present day of the country.

During this recent times, Dalriadic Scots are at war to the Pictish neighbours.

After 100 years, the Dalriadic kingdom, which can be found in Ireland and in Alba, was then separated.  Dalriadic territory in Alba was gradually recognized as “The Hometown of Scots.”

In year 850, King Kenneth (Cinead) MacAlpin successfully overpowered Picts and became the Gaelic king of Scotland.

The term “Land of Scots” gradually became Scots-land.

Using of Surnames Before

The utilization of surnames before was practice around 1000 years in France.

Then, after a few years, they came to Scotland along with Normans; however, they were not famous for several years later.

It is being said that the first ones who use surnames are the gentry, large landowners, and nobles, who had their surnames from the territory or land they possessed or owned.

Tenants oftentimes have the surnames of their landowners while other people took their surnames from their profession like mason or smith.

The use of surnames from this country started to become prominent; thus, many people continuously use different names based on their professions and owned territories.


The ancient history of this country, Scotland, is said to be complex and fascinating.

There are even Vikings, Roman soldiers, influential ruling monarchs, enlightened philosophers, and even noble clansmen.

As time passes by, Scotland experienced extravagant growth and development until these recent times.

The unknown ancient history started to reveal its secret, all for the purpose of enlightenment of all people who wish to know more about the country.

There are still some other pieces of information that may be helpful for everyone.

That’s why it is a must to do a research about the unknown history of Scotland continuously.

With their rich stories from the past, numerous individuals – either learners, visitors, tourists, or residents – would have additional knowledge and understanding about the country’s history.

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.

Last Updated: October 31, 2023