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Scotland. A country who's deep and rich history can be traced back many thousands of years.

It is estimated that the first settlers to arrive in Scotland did so approximately 8000 years ago. They travelled from mainland Europe seeking new areas to harvest food and supplies, and since that time the Scots have grown as a nation.

The original meaning of "Scot" actually comes from Ireland. A group of invaders from the region Scotia, in Ireland, travelled to Scotland over the sea, and were quick to seize control of the outlying islands. They slowly made their way inland, and so soon came to populate most of the country.

"Braveheart". William Wallace was born in the year 1270 in the region of Ayrshire. It was to be two years after he was born that Edward the first would gain the throne of England (Edward the Longshanks). Throughout the following years Scotland went through inner turmoil, and in the year 1297, after signing a treaty with France, Longshanks invaded Scotland, claiming it for England, and took the "stone of Destiny" with him back to London. It would be later that year that William Wallace would gain his fame (though he never sought it) when he defeated an English army much stronger than his own at Stirling bridge and thus managed to capture Stirling castle. Unfortunately the joy of this defeat did not last long, as he was outnumbered and outfought in the battle of Falkirk in 1298. Though Wallace escaped it is estimated some 10,000 men may have died in the battle. Longshanks continued to pursue Wallace in the following years and, though Wallace had never pledged alliegance to the King, named him as a traitor to the crown. He was eventually captured near Glasgow in 1305 when he was betrayed by a Scottish Knight who had sided with the English. He was taken to London and hung, drawn(meaning his entrails were cut from his body while he was still alive), and quartered. His head was mounted on a spike in London, and his legs and arms were displayed throughout the four corners of Britain as a warning to others who may try what wallace had done. Unfortunately for Longshanks, this did not serve as a warning but merely made a martyr of Wallace, and soon after Robert the Bruce took up where Wallace had left off.

Robert Burns - Ah yes, the famous Scot's bard, known more commonly in Scotland as Rabbie Burns, whos memory is forever immortalised each year with the traditional Burns supper. The Burns supper was originated by some close friends of Rabbie shortly after his death and has continued to be held each year for approximately 200 years now. The supper is a grand affair with the traditional haggis being led in by a piper while the bard's poem "To a Haggis" is read.

The Haggis - Legend has it that the haggis is a creature which has one leg shorter than the other and can be found running around the hills of the Highlands. This, of course, is totally false, and the haggis is in fact a mixture of oatmeal and various spices all neatly wrapped in a sheeps stomach. Sounds appetising right?

The castles - There are castles dotted everywhere throughout Scotland's landscape, from the large ones such as Edinburgh, Inverary, and Stirling, to much smaller and insignificant ones. If you are going to Scotland seeking castles, you need not look too far.

The Loch Ness Monster - There has been much talk of this beast that is said to live in the waters of Loch Ness, and there are good arguments both for and against it's existance. Those that say it is possible believe so because the loch is so deep, with shelves deep in the water that a family of creatures could hide under. Those that say it is impossible say no beast could have survived the ice age, when the loch was nothing more than a solid, frozen glacier, and they attribute some sightings to sturgeon. Both sides have strong cases, and it's up to you to decide who you believe. Either way, Loch Ness is a nice place to visit.

The whisky trail - Scotland is, of course, famous for it's whisky, and though the distilleries are to be found mainly in the northern parts of Scotland, there are many other fine distilleries throughout the country. Tours are available at most of these, and some tourist organisations will also arrange a tour of many of them if you so desire.

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Glasgow
 
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