Did You Know?
- How Scotland Got Its Name

You may already know that Scotland got its name from the "Scoti" or "Scotti" a Gaelic speaking people who had come from Ireland around 500AD and settled in Argyll (named then DÓl Riata or Dalriada). But where did the Scoti get their name from?

According to the "Scotichronicon" - one of the earliest histories of Scotland written in the 1440s, there was a legend that a Greek prince called Gaythelos was banished, with his wife Scota, the daughter of an Egyptian Pharoah. He sailed westwards and landed in Spain. From there, he and his followers explored further and one of his sons, named Hiber, found an island (later called Ireland) which he named Scotia, after his mother. So Gaythelos' name gave rise to "Gaelic", Hiber gave rise to Hibernia and Scota gave rise to Scotia and then Scotland. The Scotichronicon does not explain, however, why Ireland is no longer called Scotia and why the Scoti came to Argyll.

Another variation on this legend suggests that an Egyptian princess married the King of Portugal in the 4th century. She brought the Stone of Destiny (Jacob's pillow in the Bible) as a dowry. Her daughter, named Scota, married the King of Ireland's son and her descendants called themselves the Children of Scota.

Unfortunately, while the connection between the Scoti of DÓl Riata and Ireland is undoubted, there is no documentary evidence for the earlier parts of the legend.



Use the "Back" button on your browser or click here to return to the Index of "Did You Know?"


Where else would you like to go in Scotland?








Separator line