Uniquely Scottish

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 Enjoy the Ceilidh Experience! © Stuart McClay
Try the Ceilidh Experience ››

Get to grips with the steps and immerse yourself in the thrills of ceilidh dancing in our new video experience!

Contemporary Scotland blends a rich array of cultures from around the world. However, there are several icons considered to be uniquely and recognisably Scottish. From tartan and bagpipes, kilts and Highland games to our national flag, our national drink and the Gaelic language, discover the history and legends behind Scotland’s national icons and how they came to be associated with our country.

  • The ruins of Arbroath Abbey, Angus
    The ruins of Arbroath Abbey, Angus
  • A butterfly sitting on a thistle
    A butterfly sitting on a thistle
  • Musician Finlay MacDonald at the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow
    Musician Finlay MacDonald at the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow
  • Blair Atholl Highland Games tug o' war
    The tug o' war at Blair Atholl Highland Games
  • A group of men in full Highland dress
    A display of Highland dress
Musician Finlay MacDonald at the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow


The Highland bagpipe is considered Scotland’s national instrument and is one of the most iconic symbols of Scottish culture.

A Highland dancer taking part in the sword dancing event whilst a piper plays at the Ballater Highland Games

Highland games

Taking place around Scotland every summer, the Highland games bring together dancing, competition and Scottish fun.

A close up of a piper wearing a brooch on his full Highland dress


Uncover the fascinating history of one of Scotland’s most iconic products and discover how to find your own tartan.

Two Highland dancers, wearing kilts, at the Gathering, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh

The kilt

Discover the history of the iconic Scottish kilt and find out where you can pick up this modern fashion piece.

St Rules Church in the grounds of St Andrews Cathedral, Fife

St Andrew

Discover why St Andrew has been the patron saint of Scotland for over 1,000 years.

The Scottish flag, the Saltire, flying above Athelstaneford Church, Haddington

The Saltire

Scotland’s national flag, the Saltire, is steeped in history and legend and is thought to be the oldest national flag in Europe.

The Honours of Scotland at Edinburgh Castle - image courtesy of Historic Scotland

The Honours of Scotland

The Honours of Scotland comprise a jewel encrusted crown, an elaborate sword and a sceptre, which all date from the 15th and 16th centuries, and have been fought over for centuries, but are now safely ensconced in Edinburgh Castle.

The entrance to the Isle Ornsay Hotel with Gaelic text, Isle of Skye


Have you ever thought about learning a little Gaelic? Learn how to speak a few basic phrases on your travels around Scotland, and find information on the language's history, heritage and significance in Scotland today.

Gaelic text painted on the side of a craft shop in Isle Ornsay, Skye


Scotland today is mostly an English-speaking country, but it was not always so. Some parts of Scotland still speak Gaelic and Scots, and the dialect in Orkney and Shetland is heavily influenced by Old Norse.

The Vatersay Boys, a ceilidh band, performing on the Isle of Berneray


Ceilidhs, a traditional Scottish dance, have played an important role in Scotland’s social and cultural life for many years, particularly at special occasions such as weddings.

The Stone of Destiny

The Stone of Destiny has been revered for centuries as a holy relic and fought over by the Scottish and English for 700 years.

The thistle of Scotland

The thistle is one of the most recognised symbols of Scotland - find out why it is associated with Scotland.


Few aspects of Scotland’s history were as colourful, or as bloody, as the clan system. Learn more and discover your clan.