A Timeline of Scotland

By Tim Lambert

C. 6,000 BC Stone age hunters arrive in Scotland

C. 4,500 BC Stone age farmers arrive in Scotland

C 1,800 BC The Beaker People (so-called because they made pottery beakers) introduce bronze into Scotland

C. 1,000 BC The sword and shield are introduced into Scotland

C. 400 BC The Celts introduce iron into Scotland80 AD The Romans under Agricola invade Scotland

84 AD The Romans defeat the native people at Mons Graupius. However, the Roman army withdraws shortly afterward.

122 AD Hadrian begins building a wall

140-142 Antonius Pius builds the Antonine wall

196 The Antonine wall is abandoned

197 A Roman writer mentions a race he called Picti or painted men. We call them the Picts.

C. 500 AD The Scotti or Scots from Northern Ireland land in the west of Scotland. They form a kingdom called Dalriada.

563 St Columba arrives in Iona and begins converting the Picts to Christianity

795 The Vikings raid Iona. It is the beginning of many Viking raids on Scotland.

C. 800 Vikings settle the Orkney Islands, The Shetland Islands and the Western Islands

840 Kenneth MacAlpin becomes king of the Scots

843 Kenneth MacAlpin (or Kenneth I) becomes king of the southern Picts as well as the Scots uniting the two. The new kingdom is called Alba. Later the name changes to Scotia.

858 Kenneth dies. Donald I succeeds him.

863 Constantine I becomes king

872 The king of Norway creates an Earl of the Orkneys (he also rules the Shetlands)

877 Aed becomes king

889 Donald II becomes king

900 Constantine II becomes king

943 Constantine II retires to a monastery. Malcolm I becomes king.

954 Indulf becomes king

962 Duf becomes king

966 Culen becomes king

971 Culen is assassinated. Kenneth II becomes king

995 Constantine III becomes king

997 Kenneth III becomes king

1005 Malcolm II becomes king

1018 Malcolm II conquers Lothian and Strathclyde making them part of the Scottish kingdom.

1040 Macbeth kills Duncan and becomes king of Scotland

1054 Macbeth is defeated a the battle of Dunisdane and is forced to surrender half his kingdom.

1057 Macbeth is killed at the battle of Lumphanan with the English

1058 Malcolm III becomes king

1069 Malcolm marries Margaret, a Norman-English princess and invites Normans to come to Scotland. Influenced by the Normans he also introduces feudalism into Scotland. Margaret reforms the Scottish church.

1071 The Scots are defeated by the English led by William Rufus

1091 The Scots are again defeated by William Rufus

1093 Donald III becomes king

1094 Duncan II rules Scotland for a short time

1094 Donald III becomes king

1107 Alexander I becomes king

1112 Alexander encourages Normans to come and live in Scotland

1121 King Alexander makes Berwick upon Tweed a royal burgh


David I becomes king. David establishes new monasteries in Scotland. He also promotes trade by standardizing weights and measures and by starting royal mints. He also makes some towns royal burghs.

1138 The Scots are defeated by the English at the battle of the Standard in Yorkshire

1153 Malcolm IV becomes king


William the Lion becomes king. During his reign Scotland prospers. Wool, fish and furs are exported. Luxuries like wine and spices are imported.

1174 The Scots invade England but the Scottish king is captured at Alnwick

1214 Alexander II becomes king

1249 Alexander III becomes king


By the treaty of Perth the king of Norway sells the Western Isles to Scotland. Margaret, daughter of the Scottish king, becomes queen of Norway.


Alexander III dies. In 1290 his heir, the Maid of Norway dies on the voyage to Scotland. So Scotland is left without a monarch and nobles argue over the succession.


Edward I of England is asked to arbitrate in the Scottish succession crisis. He selects John Balliol but as the price of his arbitration he demands that Scotland becomes a vassal of England.


John Balliol rebels against Edward. The English capture Berwick (an important Scottish town) and massacre the inhabitants. The English depose John Balliol and capture Scottish castles. William Wallace begins an armed struggle

1297 William Wallace defeats the English at Stirling Bridge

1298 The battle of Falkirk. The Scots under William Wallace are defeated but the struggle continues.

1304 The English capture Stirling Castle

1305 William Wallace is betrayed and executed

1306 Robert the Bruce becomes king of Scotland.

1313 Robert the Bruce recaptures Edinburgh, Perth and Roxburgh

1314 The battle of Bannockburn. The English are routed and Scottish independence is assured.

1318 The Scots recapture Berwick

1320 The Declaration of Arbroath. (A message to the Pope). The Scots declare their determination to fight for freedom.


The treaty of Northampton recognizes Scottish independence. However border warfare goes on for generations.

1329 Robert the Bruce dies. David II becomes king.

1346 The Scots are defeated at the battle of Nevilles Cross. King David II is captured.

1349 The Black Death arrives in Scotland. It kills about 1/3 of the population.

1357 King David is released in return for a ransom.

1371 Robert II becomes king

1390 Robert III becomes king


James I becomes king. However, he is captured by English pirates while at sea. For 18 years he is held captive in England while his uncle the Duke of Albany rules Scotland. He is not crowned until 1424.

1413 Scotland’s first university, St Andrews, is founded

1437 James II becomes king following his father’s murder

1451 Glasgow University is founded

1460 James II is killed while besieging Roxburgh when a cannon explodes. James III becomes king

1488 James III is murdered. James IV becomes king.

1494 Aberdeen university is founded

1503 James IV marries Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII

1513 The Scots lose the battle of Flodden. James IV is killed

1537 King James V marries Madeleine of France


The English defeat the Scots at Solway Moss in Cumbria. James V dies and his heir is a baby named Mary1544

Angry at Scotland’s refusal to let his son Edward marry Mary the English King Henry VIII sends an army to plunder southern Scotland.

1547 The Scots are defeated at the Battle of Pinkie

1548 Mary is sent to France

1558 Mary marries Francis, the heir to the French throne


The Reformation sweeps Scotland, led by John Knox. The Reformation Parliament ends the Pope’s authority and bans the mass. Mary’s husband Francis dies

1561 Mary returns to Scotland and finds the country changed by the Reformation. Mary herself remains a Catholic

1565 Mary marries Lord Darnley (Henry Stuart)

1566 Darnley and his followers kill Mary’s secretary David Riccio


Darnley is strangled and blown up by a gunpowder explosion in a house. Mary is suspected of organising the murder of Darnley with her lover the Earl of Bothwell (James Hepburn). Mary marries Bothwell and the Scots rise in rebellion. Mary is forced to abdicate and James I becomes king.

1568 Mary flees to England and is imprisoned by Elizabeth I

1582 Edinburgh University is founded

1587 Mary is executed by Elizabeth I for plotting against her

1589 King James marries Anne of Denmark

1600 Charles I is born1603 James VI of Scotland inherits the English throne and becomes James I

1614 John Napier discovers logarithms1617 King James visits Scotland for the first time since becoming king of England

1625 Charles I becomes king of Scotland and England


Charles I tries to make the Scottish Kirk accept a new prayer book. In Edinburgh a riot begins in St Giles Cathedral.

1638 All over Scotland Scots sign a document called the National Covenant promising to defend the Kirk1639

Desperately short of money to pay his soldiers King Charles is forced to make a peace treaty with the Covenanters.1640

Charles goes to war with the Covenanters again but his army quickly retreats before the Scots

1642 Civil war begins in England between king and parliament


The parliamentarians persuade the Scots to join in the war on their side by promising to make the English church Presbyterian. By the Solemn League and Covenant the Scots agree to join parliament in its struggle.

1644 The Marquis of Montrose tries to take Scotland for the king

1645 Montrose is defeated at the Battle of Philiphaugh

1646 The English civil war ends. The king surrenders to the Scots


The Scots hand Charles over to the English parliament. In December Charles I makes a deal with the Scots in an attempt to regain his throne

1648 English royalists rise in rebellion. The Scots invade England but are defeated at Preston

1649 Charles I is executed


Charles I makes a deal with the Scots. Oliver Cromwell marches into Scotland and wins the battle of Dunbar in September. 1651

Charles II is crowned in Scotland and invades England. He is defeated at the battle of Worcester and flees abroad. Subsequently the English army occupies Scotland.

1660 Charles II is restored as king of England and Scotland


Charles II tries to impose episcopacy (rule by bishops) on Scotland. For years Covenanters are persecuted.1666 An uprising in southwest Scotland is crushed


James II is deposed. His son James Edward Stuart is born this year. Later the son is known as the Old Pretender because he ‘pretends to’ (claims) his father’s throne.


William of Orange and Mary take the Scottish throne. Viscount Dundee leads a rebellion in the Highlands. The rebels win the battle of Killiecrankie but Dundee is killed and the rebellion collapses.

1690 Presbyterianism is finally re-established

1692 The massacre of Glencoe

1695 The Bank of Scotland is founded

1707 The Act of Union unites England and Scotland. Many Scots are bitterly opposed to the union.


John Erskine, the Earl of Mar raises the Highlands in support of James II. His supporters are called Jacobites from the Latin for James, Jacobus. An indecisive battle is fought at Sheriffmuir.

1716 The rebellion fizzles out

1720 The old pretender has a son, Charles Edward, known as the young pretender


The young pretender arrives in Scotland in an attempt to take the throne. On 21 September the Jacobites defeat the British army at Prestonpans. The Jacobites march south as far as Derby but withdraw.


On 16 April the Jacobites are crushed at Culloden. Afterwards the Duke of Cumberland (known as Butcher Cumberland) and his men kill and plunder all over the Highlands. They destroy crops and houses.

1747 The Act of Proscription bans Highlanders from carrying arms, wearing the kilt and playing bagpipes

C. 1785-1820

The first great wave of Highland clearances takes place. Rich landowners decide that raising sheep or cattle would be more profitable than traditional farming. Tenants and their families are evicted from their homes and land causing great suffering. Many Highlanders are forced to immigrate to North America. The Highlands are left depopulated.

1766 James II, the old pretender dies

1782 The Act of Proscription is repealed

c. 1780s

The Industrial Revolution begins to transform central Scotland. The populations of towns like Glasgow and Dundee boom.

1788 The young pretender dies

During the 19th century some Scottish towns mushroom. Conditions in the new industrial towns are very often appalling. They are dirty, unsanitary, and overcrowded. Not surprisingly life expectancy is short and infant mortality is high. However, things improve in the late 19th century. Sewers are dug, piped water supplies are created.

1822 George IV visits Scotland

1832 Outbreaks of cholera in Scottish towns.

1840-1860 A second wave of Highland clearances takes place.

1843 The ‘Disruption’. The Church of Scotland splits. The Free Church of Scotland is formed.

1847 Food riots occur in Scotland

1848-1849 More cholera epidemics in Scottish towns.

1879 The Tay Bridge collapses

1885 Secretary for Scotland appointed

1886 The Crofters Act is passed

1890 Forth Rail Bridge opens

1920s Many Scots emigrate

1926 Secretary of state for Scotland appointed

1929 The Church of Scotland is reunited

1931 onward Depression caused mass unemployment in Scotland

1932 Unemployment in Scotland reaches 28%

1934 The Scottish National Party is formed

1941 The Germans bomb Glasgow

1965 The Highlands and Islands Development Board is formed

1980-1982 Unemployment in Scotland soars as recession bites

1982 Caron Iron Works calls in the receiver

C. 1980s The electronics industry in Scotland grows.

1990 Glasgow is the cultural capital of Europe

1999 The Scottish Parliament meets

2014 The Scots vote against independence