Many people come to Scotland expecting a massive historic bounty of castles, abbeys, caves and more.
Few leave Scotland disappointed in this regard… Scotland is a country of pioneers and innovators, and so it’s no surprise that Scotland has its fair share of ‘firsts’ that still exist to this day – the oldest items of Scotland’s history.
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The Oldest Pub in Scotland…
Scotland is renowned for its people’s many hours spent in cherished watering holes, both in the past and in the present.
It then comes as no surprise, that Scotland has a handful of old pubs, where over many decades and centuries, Scottish men and women have wined and dined and enjoyed the amicable atmosphere of our pubs.
The Sheep Heid Inn is Scotland’s oldest pub – found in the East End of Edinburgh. It has been serving drinks in Duddingston for no less than 650 years!
There is much speculation as to where the pub’s name came from. Sheep reared in Holyrood were brought to the slaughter in Duddingston, and since there was so little demand for their heads, or ‘heids’ in Scots, they were kept by the residents of Duddingston – and soon they became known for their strange gastronomic delight – a sheep head broth.
Being in existence for so long, The Sheep Heid Inn has endured a great change in Scottish life and has played host to several renowned groups and people in Scottish lore. On route to the Battle of Prestonpans, the Jacobite Army were said to stop by the pub for a few drinks.
Whilst there are many fantastic pubs in the land, none are thought to be as old as this one, and none have such a storied history!
The Oldest Golf Course in the World…
One of Scotland’s many gifts to the world was golf. Scotland is the home of golf and so it come no surprise that Scotland’s oldest golf club is also the World’s oldest.
While many believe St Andrews to be the home of golf, it is actually the East Lothian town of Musselburgh that plays host to the World’s first golf course. Musselburgh Links is recognised as such in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Evidence exists to prove that golf was played at Musselburgh Links as early as March 1672, however, the famous Mary Queen of Scots was said to have played here as early as 1567.
In more recent times, continuing the regal theme, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh were inadvertently forced to land their helicopter there.
Fog in Edinburgh forced the Queen to land in front of the first tee on a visit in 2010. At just 9 holes, you could fit the links into your afternoon fairly easily, and you never know what royal company you’ll run into when you’re there!
The Oldest Inhabited House in Scotland…
Nestled in the secluded, idyllic Scottish Borders is Traquair House, a grand mansion that is said to be the oldest continually inhabited house in Scotland.
Traquair House is more than 900 years old and has been visited by an unbelievable 27 Kings and Queens. King Alexander I (1078-1124) was the first Scottish monarch to reside and hunt at Traquair.
When Alexander I stayed there, Traquair House was a remote weekend retreat for the King, but upon the tragic death of Alexander III at Kinghorn and the ensuing succession crisis, Traquair was suddenly thrust onto the frontier in the Tweed Valley, guarding against Edward I, ‘Longshanks’, and his wandering eye for the Scottish crown.
Traquair is an unbelievable size. In the house there are an astonishing 50 rooms, including ‘The King’s Room’ where Mary Queen of Scots stayed in 1566 – she left some personal items behind, which are still there today!
The Oldest Tree in Britain…
In the churchyard of a rural Perthshire village, the ancient Fortingall Yew still stands. While experts are largely undecided as to the certain age of the tree, modern estimates claim the age is at least between 2,000 and 3,000 years old.
Some liberal estimates state that Fortingall Yew is perhaps even 9,000 years old, which would make it one of Europe’s oldest trees, but still younger than some Norway Spruces in Sweden.
Regardless of whether it is really 2,000 or 3,000 or 9,000 years old, Fortingall Yew is likely the oldest tree in all of Great Britain.
The tree was once 52 feet wide in its trunk, so not too bad for a quick moment in the shade when the roasting weather comes to Perthshire that one time every year!
The Oldest Museum in Scotland…
In the grounds of the second-oldest university in Scotland, Glasgow is Scotland’s oldest museum – the Hunterian Museum.
The Museum was opened in 1807, comprised of the massive personal collection of the anatomist William Hunter, which he left to the University of Glasgow. Today, the Museum has a varied collection, with exhibits on such topics as Roman Scotland and Fossils, amongst other treasures.
Entry is free, and if you don’t get lost in the beautiful expanses of Glasgow’s West End, the fascinating Hunterian Museum will keep you entertained for the entire afternoon…
Article written by our contributor and friend – Andrew. Thank you! See his other articles Through Scotland by Train, Best 10 Attractions to Visit in Lanarkshire and 10 Ways to Make Use of the Strathclyde Daytripper Ticket