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When you think of Scotland, you may think of the iconic kilt or bagpipes, perhaps haggis or a piece of tasty shortbread, even the luminous Irn-Bru may spring to mind, but we thought a little outside the box to find some fascinating facts about Scotland that you may not know.

Scotland is filled with captivating castles, diverse landscapes and interesting delicacies, offering a wide selection of wonders to discover. Boasting a wealth of history and myths, from freshwater folklore to tartan fabrics, the country of Scotland has so much to offer.

Read on to discover our selection of 9 fun facts you didn’t know about Scotland…

1. Less than one quarter of Scotland’s 790 islands are populated

Scotland countryside

Out of the extensive number of islands that make up Scotland, only a small number are inhabited. Although access is available to a selection of these vacant destinations for those seeking an adventure, it tends to be at a risk (and a cost).

The granite islet of Rockall is available to visit as of 2020, organised by those who specialise in venturesome trips to places such as Chernobyl. Voyagers can stand upon the mound of the volcanic plug for 15-20 minutes, where you can observe interrupted sea views. An unforgettable experience for those seeking excitement.

2. Edinburgh has one of the highest proportions of listed buildings in the UK & Ireland

Edinburgh city

A major cultural capital in the UK, the city of Edinburgh is a popular tourist hub at any time of year. Offering its visitors a vibrant theatre scene, alongside a vast number of museums, galleries and architectural marvels, you can expect to find exquisite listed buildings in many different forms.

In 2017, two blocks of flats in Edinburgh became the 50th and 51st buildings completed after World War Two to be given listed status in Category A. Rich in history and presenting stupendous structures, the capital of Scotland is a true phenomenon.

If you’re seeking a luxurious escape, our historic holiday lets are perfect for a destination with a difference.

3. Edinburgh is one of the most haunted cities in the UK

Edinburgh Castle

Aside from its credibility as a cultural hub, the city of Edinburgh is also known to be a top haunted destination in the UK. A country with a wealth of heritage, it’s no surprise that spooky stories encompass these historic streets.

Edinburgh Castle holds status as being one of the most haunted of its kind. Many people have heard the beat of the headless drummer playing a melody, as well as the prisoners of the castle being said to roam the dungeons.

While Glasgow also proves to be one of the UK’s spookiest locations, Edinburgh is sure to bring you a real thrill of a trip. With rumours of there being over 44 abandoned places across the city, there’s plenty of daunting locations waiting to be discovered.

4. Balmoral Castle is one of the Queen’s favourite summer retreats

Balmoral Castle

Continuing on with the theme of castles, Balmoral Castle in Royal Deeside makes for an exquisite holiday destination, and happens to be a royal favourite.

Originally bought by Prince Albert in 1848 as a gift for the Queen, the castle still stands to be a private property of the Royal Family, with their visits beginning at the end of July.

The property is one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite holiday getaways, with her granddaughter, Princess Eugenie, stating that her grandmother really loves the Highlands and is most happy when holidaying at this castle.

5. Chicken Tikka Masala originated in Scotland


Apparently, the world-famous dish of chicken tikka masala was first discovered in Glasgow, despite curry being a traditionally Indian cuisine. The curry was allegedly concocted by Pakistani chef, Ali Ahmed Aslam, adding tomato soup and additional spices to a combination of yogurt, cream and spices, after a customer complained that his food was too dry.

The uncertainty as to where the dish was created has been apparent since 1971, and the mystery of the masala is one which is unlikely to be solved. Despite being one of the most popular dishes in the world, Scotland seems to be better known for its haggis, battered Mars bars and whisky.

Offering something for every unique taste, the cuisines of Scotland are well-worth exploring, and our selection of nine traditional Scottish foods that you need to try are sure to cater to all.

6. Bagpipes aren’t Scottish; neither is the origin of the kilt


While a curry is surprisingly Scottish, both the traditionally associated objects of the bagpipes and the kilt supposedly hold history elsewhere.

Some argue that the ‘shendyt’, a kilt-like garment worn in ancient Egypt is evidence of the creation of the kilt. A part of the Assyrian soldiers’ uniform, they bare similar representation to the Scottish kilt in that they were also created to allow for movement in battle.

The bagpipes are also believed by some to have originated in Egypt, brought over to Scotland by Roman invaders. While others speculate that the instrument was brought over from Ireland by the Scots, one thing that is certain is that the people of Scotland did create the bagpipes we see (and hear) today.

7. Scotland offers the world’s shortest commercial flight


Flying from Westray and landing on Papa Westray, the world’s shortest flight takes around just one minute, and will transport you from one island of Scotland to another. To get yourself across these two Orkney Northern Isles is a fairly cheap cost.

Transporting passengers via an eight-seater Britten-Norman Islander, it’s sure to offer you a flying experience like no other, and you can even receive your own souvenir in the form of a certificate.

The small islands host a selection of marvellous attractions including sandy beaches, historical delights and natural spectacles. So whether you’re seeking a getaway by the coast or a walking holiday, this short glide will bring you to a range of wonders.

8. It’s not just people who’ve made the journey up Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis

Once an active volcano, the Scottish treasure of Ben Nevis, otherwise known as ‘the mountain with its head in the clouds’, is a popular attraction with those from all over the world. Whether you’re an avid ambler or are simply seeking a rural retreat, the highest mountain in the British Isles offers unrivaled views of the Highlands, which are well-worth the ramble.

Estimated to see 150,000 hikers every year, people are choosing more adventurous ways to explore the wonder. In 1911, a Ford Model T made the tricky trek to the summit, with the owner’s son (Henry Alexander Jr) being the driver. In 1928 he repeated his excursion, but this time in a Model A Ford, and many others have attempted to replicate his journey in various vehicles.

In 2006, the remains of a ‘piano’ were uncovered by volunteers clearing up the stones and litter from the mountain. It was later discovered that the instrument was actually a church organ carried up by a Scottish woodcutter, who also carried up a beer barrel and a plough. When at the top, the Scotsman played ‘Scotland the brave’ before returning to the mountain’s base, without the instrument this time.

9. Skara Brae was perfectly preserved until 1850

Skara Brae

A historic hideaway settled on the Orkney Islands, Skara Brae is thought to have been built and occupied between 3000BCE and 2500BCE. Consisting of slabs of stone to mold the exterior with stone furniture too, these homes are believed to have housed some of Britain’s first farmers who grew crops and reared animals, evidenced in the remains of tools, crops and bones.

The marvel used to be covered by a large sand dune on the shore of the Bay of Skaill, before a storm hit in 1850 uncovering it. Archaeologists exposed the complete four houses in the 1860s, now protected by seawalls to preserve the wonder giving us an insight into the everyday life of the Neolithic period.

With the Skara Brae being named a world heritage site in 1999, a cottage near a heritage property provides you with the perfect opportunity to get up close to these phenomenal sites yourself.

If a holiday in the Highlands is what you are seeking to explore even more of Scotland’s excitement, then browse our selection of unusual places to stay in Scotland to find your perfect holiday. Take a look at our Scotland Travel Guide to find plenty of ways to spend your time during your next getaway.

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