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10 Things Not to Say to Scottish People

Posted on 85 Comments Location: 7 min read


ollowing on from my posts on Things Redheads Are Sick of Hearing and Things People With Pale Skin Are Sick of Hearing, today I’m looking at some of the most popular myths about Scotland and the Scottish. Here are some things people say about Scotland – and why they’re wrong…

10 annoying stereotypes about Scottish people


Scottish people all wear kilts


orry, tourists, but if you’re expecting to come to Scotland and see lots of men wandering around in kilts, you’re probably going to be disappointed. It’s like expecting Dutch people to wear wooden clogs, or Germans to always be in Lederhosen – it just doesn’t happen, other than at tourist attractions, or other very specific occasions.

In the case of kilts, they’re a type of traditional dress (er, skirt) which are now only really seen at weddings, or other events with a similar level of formality. I guess you might see men wearing kilts as daywear if you head further north (The last time I visited Perthshire, I saw a couple of men wearing them as “casual” wear – i.e. with Doc Marten boots and hoodies. It was less strange than it sounds…), but here in the central belt, at least, kilts are strictly reserved for weddings/people who work in the tourist industry – and even then, they’re often only worn by men who are actually in the wedding party, as opposed to just a guest.

I don’t know anyone who’d wear a kilt just out and about, and I’m pretty sure that if they did, they’d be ribbed endlessly about it – or, at the very least, would have to endure similar kinds of questions to the ones a woman would get if she turned up at the pub in a bridesmaid’s dress. Awkward.

(Er, needless to say, the photo above was taken at a wedding – and yes, Terry was in the wedding party!)

Scottish people are mean


have absolutely no idea where this stereotype comes from, but there are tons of jokes out there (you can see some of them here) centring around the idea that Scottish people are stingy, and will do anything to avoid spending money. I know Terry definitely wishes that were true, because if it was, I probably wouldn’t be the proud owner of a room full of shoes by now, but I can’t see I’ve ever seen any evidence of this: in fact, if I was in the habit of attempting to stereotype entire nations (which I generally try to avoid), I’d probably say the opposite was true – I might just be lucky, but most of the Scottish people I know are pretty generous!

Deep fried Mars bars
are a staple part of the Scottish diet


onestly, up until a couple of years ago, I’d never even SEEN a deep friend Mars Bar, let alone eaten one. According to Wikipedia, this was something that was really just  a novelty item, until the media got hold of it, at which point people started rocking up at fish and chip shops and asking them to deep fry confectionery. So it’s a “tradition” which was almost completely manufactured by the media, in other words. These days, it’s a little more common to see deep fried Mars Bars on the menus at takeaways, but I’d be surprised if they sell a lot of them: like the kilted bagpipe players you see on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, I suspect they’re mostly there for the benefit of tourists. We do like our fish n’ chips, though. Or, in my case, chips n’ chips.

(Yes, I have tried a deep-fried Mars Bar – once. Yes, I was very drunk at the time. And yes, it was horrible…)

Tantallon Castle, East Lothian, Scotland

has a similar climate to the Arctic circle


ook, Scotland is cold, I’m not going to lie to you – sometimes it gets REALLY cold. It’s also wet. Like, really, really wet. Contrary to popular belief, however, it’s not like like being in the Arctic, and, here in the central belt,  snow isn’t particularly common (although we have had a few bad winters lately). I’ve noticed that a lot of my southern friends, however, seem to think Scotland is more or less like the North Pole (Which, as we all know, isn’t even a real place...), and that the second they cross the border they’ll see us all living in igloos, and cutting holes in the ice in order to get fresh water. Er, no, not so much. Obviously the further north you go, the colder it gets, but Arctic it ain’t. (Well, not ALL of the time, anyway…) Our weather is colder than places further south, but our winters are nothing like the ones you get in Canada, say, or even somewhere like New York.

Most people
live in castles or ancient stone cottages


hen we were buying our house, I remember blogging about visiting some newbuild properties, and getting a comment from a reader who was surprised to hear that we HAD many brand new houses in Scotland: why would we need them, after all, when we have all of those ancient stone dwellings to live in?

It’s certainly true that Scotland has its fair share of castles, and other very old buildings, but we also have a lot of new towns, in which the oldest buildings you’ll see will be from the 1960s. The town we used to live in was one of those places – most of it didn’t even exist before the 60s, and although the surrounding villages are much older, vast areas of them are relatively new. That’s not to say there aren’t lots of old buildings, obviously, because there are – but there are lots of newer ones, too.

Scottish people
often use the phrase, “Och aye the noo!”


o, we don’t. Because that would translate as, “Oh yes just now.” What does that even mean? This is just gibberish, which is used to mock Scottish people, but not actually used by Scottish people. Actually, now I come to think of it, the only people I’ve ever heard say this have been non-Scots!

View of Arthur's seat from Edinburgh

Scottish people speak Gaelic


ccording to my old friend, Wikipedia, only 1.1% of the population can speak Gaelic, which isn’t a lot. Most of those speakers live in the far north of the country, or in the islands, so it would be very rare to hear Gaelic spoken here in the central belt: I don’t know anyone who can speak or understand it. Despite this, a lot of our road signs are displayed in both English and Gaelic, which allows you to have the unique experience of feeling like a foreigner in your own country as you whizz past signs you can’t actually read…

(True story: until recently, I didn’t even know how to say the word “Gaelic” – apparently it’s “Gallic” not “Gae-lick”. WHO KNEW? Not me, or most of the people I know…)

We’re all
obsessed with Clans


ne of the most common questions I’m asked by visitors to Scotland is what clan I’m part of… which I have absolutely no idea how to answer, because, well, it’s not the 18th century any more, and no one cares about clans. Well, no one I  know, anyway: I realise there are people who are interested in Clans, and in tracing which one they belong to, but, contrary to what Outlander would have you believe, the clan system isn’t really a big part of modern Scottish culture, and we’re not all constantly feuding with each other over centuries-old rivalries, or whatever is it that people think we do up here: that’s just not a thing.

(And no, I don’t have a special tartan either. Please stop asking…)

Outlander fllming locations in central Scotland: the ultimate guide

Scottish people listen to bagpipe music and do highland dancing on nights out


his one is inspired by an English person of my acquaintance who once visited at New Year, and was very surprised to find that we weren’t all sitting around the fire, listening to the bagpipes and singing folk-songs about sheep, or haggis, or something. We had to explain to her that we don’t do that, because – again  – it’s not the 18th century, and now we have TV, and that newfangled “popular music”, and central heating and everything! Actually, a lot of the things that people connect with Scotland are things that people did in the 17th or 18th century, and it’s always interesting to me that so many visitors to Scotland expect things not to have changed from then . (I’ve even heard of people being asked if we have the internet and electricity over here, which makes me die a little bit inside…)

With that said, schoolchildren do get taught some traditional Scottish country dances (or at least, they did when I was at school, which was just slightly later than the 18th century), and its not uncommon for weddings to have a ceilidh afterwards, at which people will get up (in their kilts! OMG!) and dance to more traditional music, so that tradition does still exist. Speaking for myself, I forgot everything I ever knew about those dances (and honestly, it wasn’t much to start with) the second I left primary school, so you won’t catch me at a ceilidh, but that’s just me, and I know lots of people who love them: horses for courses. Or something.

Scottish people are always drunk


t’s frequently said that the Scots “like a drink”… Well, I have to admit, I am fond of a glass of wine or two, but, I mean, I’m not drunk NOW, if that helps at all? Seriously, though, from the highly-scientific, and yet totally subjective study I’ve made on this, my conclusion is that the Scottish people I know don’t drink any more or less than any of the English, American or other nationalities I’ve met, so take from that what you well. I will admit that my data pool here is possibly slightly skewed at the moment, because most of my friends have young children, and drunk-parenting is apparently frowned on here just as much as anywhere else, but I know just as many people (Maybe slightly more, actually…) who don’t drink at all, as I know people who do, so I don’t see a lot of truth in this one either, fun though it sounds.

Any fellow Scots out there? Care to de-bunk any myths I’ve missed? 

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  • Retro Chick
    March 9, 2015

    Ha ha! I’ll let you have all of those except the cold one 😀

    I will allow that the North of England is also cold, but if you’re from down South it’s cold! Mr Chicks Mum lives in Aberdeen and I have to take 20 layers when we visit. I also remember when I was a teenager being in Edinburgh, during a heatwave, and shivering in a jumper while lots of Scottish people discussed how warm it was. In my head they also said “Och Aye the Noooo, it’s warm today” but they probably didn’t. 😉

    How about everyone eats Haggis? Or is that one actually true?

    • Amber
      March 9, 2015

      Aberdeen is pretty far north, though, so quite a bit colder than here! People do eat haggis, but not, like, for every meal or anything, as some people seem to think 🙂

      • Sarah Rooftops
        March 9, 2015

        But… but… people are always saying to me, “Oh, it must be so snowy in Aberdeen!” because the rest of the UK is covered in the stuff. It’s not. We’ve had a couple of days of light snow this winter and it was the same last year. Compared to a lot of Scotland, we’re a snow-free oasis.

        (We DO have the wind chill factor but it’s no worse than Edinburgh)

        While I’m here, yep, people have asked me if we have electricity in Scotland and, when I was in the States, a lot of people congratulated me on my wonderful grasp of spoken English.

        • Amber
          March 9, 2015

          ” when I was in the States, a lot of people congratulated me on my wonderful grasp of spoken English.”

          Oh God! I wish I could say I’m surprised by this, but my brother-in-law was on a flight back from California a few months ago, and heard the people in the seats behind him wondering aloud what language people speak in Scotland, and what currency we use…

          We’ve had more snow than usual this winter, but that’s still not very much: I think it’s just too wet for it to stick! Speaking of Aberdeen, though, I forgot to mention the idea that everywhere in Scotland is about a 5 mile drive from everywhere else (And maybe a ten mile drive from London), so if you’re in Edinburgh, say, you could just pop up to the Highlands for lunch.

          • Retro Chick
            March 9, 2015

            Yeah, Aberdeen is pretty north, and I think they’re actually a bit north of Aberdeen too. I think they basically live in Norway, which is cold.

            I live in Norfolk and people can often be surprised that we have, you know, actual shops, or wi-fi or electricity here too. I live in what is actually a fairly large city believe it or not!

            You have Haggis in fish and chip shops in Scotland, I am jealous of that, I love haggis!

          • Kirsty
            March 9, 2015

            I had a similar experience in the States – I was on a tram chatting to my parents when the driver asked me what language I spoke. I don’t even think I have a particularly strong Scottish accent!

            • Wild Tea Party
              March 10, 2015

              Awh Kirsty, that’s so funny. I had a similar experience in the reverse in Ireland. I went around Ireland and understood everyone no problem, until I got into a taxi on the way to the airport. Now I know this dude was speaking English, but his Irish accent was so thick I didn’t have a clue what he was saying. Thank heavens my mother did. So I get it, sometimes English speaking with an accent can fly by the ear of some people. I felt really bad all I could do was smile and nod. Really. Bad.

          • Sarah Rooftops
            March 10, 2015

            Yes! Though I *have* popped down to both Edinburgh and Glasgow for dinner (for VERY good reasons) – a five hour round trip doesn’t seem like that big a deal when you grew up in the Highlands!

            • Amber
              March 10, 2015

              Haha, well, seeing as we’re on the subject, I actually once went to Aberdeen for dinner (although by “dinner” I mean “fish and chips”) – no good excuse, though – my friend had just passed her driving test and bought her first car, and we were all, “OMG, LET’S DRIVE SOMEWHERE REALLY FAR AWAY FOR NO REASON!”

    • Wendy
      March 10, 2015

      Very interesting! I’m sure people also think all of us Texan’s ride horses to work and always wear cowboy boots and hats! We do, however, love our pick up trucks!

  • Sheena
    March 9, 2015

    Great post – I should send it out to people when they start quizzing me about being from Scotland (which happens more often than you might think). Re the cold issue – there have been several occasions where there has been a significant amount of snow here (midlands), and absolutely no snow in central Scotland. People automatically think that if it’s snowing in England, Scotland must have it ten times worse!

    • Amber
      March 9, 2015

      Yeah, I often think England seems to get more extreme weather than we do – maybe Scotland is just too wet to have as much snow, though!

  • Sinead
    March 9, 2015

    I feel like a lot of these also apply to how Ireland is viewed by people who don’t live there. I’m from N.Ireland, people seem to think everyone is a violent alcoholic (thanks Coronation Street) or terrorist with no access to television…

    • Amber
      March 9, 2015

      Yeah, there seem to be a lot of similarities between the way Scotland and Ireland are perceived… I actually get quite a few comments from people assuming I’m Irish – because all redheads are Irish, obviously!

  • Jenny
    March 9, 2015

    When I visited Scotland about 5 years ago, I only met kind people and only saw kilts at the Scotch breweries/distilleries/whatever. Here’s one: do you all drink a lot of Scotch, or is that just us tourists? 🙂 Also, is there really any animosity between highlands/lowlands, or is that just another theme from centuries ago that gets joked about now for the tourists?

    • Amber
      March 9, 2015

      No, we don’t all drink a lot of whisky (I mean, I guess some people probably do, but definitely not all of us! I actually know more Americans who are really into whisky than I do Scottish people…), and there’s no animosity between the highlands and lowlands (or not that I’ve ever been aware of, anyway!) – that’s from hundreds of years ago 🙂

  • AnjaO
    March 9, 2015

    I loved this post 🙂 I want to visit Scotland in the near future, and it would be great if you could maybe do a post about what is a must to see and try when in Scotland.

    • Blue
      January 3, 2017

      I was about to reply with a proper answer but noticed when you posted this

  • TinaD
    March 9, 2015

    (The last man I knew who wore a kilt was from Hackney. I think “Hamish Macbeth” has a lot to answer for.) They do say that the Irish, as a people, are loquacious and the Scottish terse. This I can’t debunk from personal experience–although David Tennant does seem to have a gob on him. 🙂

    • Amber
      March 9, 2015

      I think that will come down to personality rather than nationality – I know plenty of loquacious Scots, so I definitely wouldn’t say terseness was a national characteristic!

  • Flagless
    March 9, 2015

    I think that most of those misconceptions are probably the result of Hogwarts wizards doing some magic to keep Muggles away from Scotland. 😉

  • CiCi Marie
    March 9, 2015

    Ah, I’m not sure about the cold one – but I’m from the South and when I visited Edinburgh last year it really did feel like the Arctic to me… but that was probably more to do with the insane wind than anything else. I’ve never been so endlessly battered by the wind in my life before – but maybe that’s just Edinburgh or I was just really unlucky?! I do take bad weather everywhere with me… I guess the only stereotype I know of that’s not here is that Scottish people eat – and actually enjoy – savory porridge. I just can’t see how that’s true…

    • Amber
      March 9, 2015

      Edinburgh is really windy because of where it is, so it can feel much colder – it’s not as bad in some other places, though (And Edinburgh does get some warm days, too!)! I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can’t stand any kind of porridge – even the sigh of it makes me want to gag :O

  • Alison
    March 9, 2015

    I was about to say how much of the same kind of stuff applies to perceptions of Ireland but see Sinead beat me to it.

    Another one is that everyone knows everyone, ie ‘surely you know Joe McBloggs from Edinburgh/Dublin’…

    • Amber
      March 9, 2015

      Haha, yes! We’ve had people say, “Oh, you’re from Scotland?! Well, you must know my great-auntie Ethel from Orkney!” and then be all astonishment when the answer is no!

  • Alison
    March 9, 2015

    Aw I really thought you all lived in castles. We stayed in one last time we were in Scotland. Great post

  • Eithne on the Moon
    March 9, 2015

    Now that’s curious, I’m Italian and the only two things I actually heard about Scottish people are about the stingy-thing (but we say the same thing for people from Genoa here, I always mock my friend about that – mercilessly) and obviously the cold, BUT honestly? Not cold like “igloos”, more like “I’m breathing water” cold, which I’m told it’s pretty close to the truth. And now I’m sad that you don’t dance all night long around a fire. Sounds so much fun! (And I’m serious)

    That said, I really really REALLY wish to live in Scotland. Because every time I see photos of historical places I want to be there. I’m a northern-architecture lover born in a roman-architecture country. And the landscape! Sigh.

  • Liz Tea Bee
    March 9, 2015

    I love that picture of you and Terry. It feels really timeless.

    I’ll admit I was surprised when you were house shopping to find out that there was so much new construction in Scotland because I’m American and it was strange to realize that there was more new houses where you live than where I live.

    I’ve also come to the conclusion that British people just don’t understand what the word “cold” means. That’s clearly the only logical conclusion. (I’m a bit cranky about cold right now. I may or may not have done a dance this weekend to celebrate having a high above freezing.)

    • Amber
      March 9, 2015

      Yeah, I think you’re right about the cold – I have family in Canada, and our winters seem positively balmy compared to theirs!

  • Catherine
    March 9, 2015

    Wonderful to know that Canadians aren’t the only ones to endure such stereotypes….Although we ARE all nice… :-). We also have the internet and don’t all live in igloos.

  • Anca
    March 9, 2015

    Love the post. I got the same feeling when I saw the road signs. It was like going on holiday abroad 🙂

    • Amber
      March 9, 2015

      It’s really weird, and I’ve also noticed that police helicopters have “Police” written in Gaelic (and not in English) on them now, too. One started circling our street a few weeks ago, and I seriously thought we were being invaded by some foreign country. It’s really weird to me that they’d chose to write things like that in a language that 98% of people won’t understand!

  • Katy
    March 9, 2015

    This is brilliant!

    I grew up right near Magaluf in Mallorca. So you can imagine the comments I get!!!

    It’s funny how stereotypical people can get. I find it quite strange how I get it both ways. Spanish people thinking weird things about England and English folk, and my English friends who all think I go out and get wasted on the strip every night!

    In fact, I might just have to write a post on it myself…

    Little Miss Katy

  • Suze
    March 9, 2015

    I’m somewhat surprised that people assume you’re Irish because you’re a redhead. I’d have thought that more people assume that redheads are Scottish, what with those bloody ridiculous wigs you can get, with the tartan hat attached. (I just googled “scottish wig” to check that this freakish accessory was in fact a commonly found phenomenon and not just something I dreamed up and sure enough it really is ‘a thing’, although no doubt only with tourists and perhaps lads’ stag parties abroad (oops, another stereotype right there!))

    I didn’t know that your road signs are in Gaelic as well as English. I’ve never noticed that on trips up to Scotland but I have seen that in Wales (although Welsh language, not Gaelic, obviously). How strange that they cater for such a small minority but I guess you can’t be too cautious with road safety and all that. Wait, hang on….you guys drive cars up there too? You don’t travel everywhere by ferry, across all those monster-infested lochs everywhere? 😉

  • Myra
    March 9, 2015

    The reason Aberdeen is unlikely to get much snow is that it is on the coast, and places on the coast are much less likely to get snow. We have lived in Blackpool on the coast in the north of England for 30+ years and have only had snow of any quantity and that lay for more than 24 hours on two occasions.
    And we do eat porridge seasoned with a little salt, rather than sugar 🙂

  • Gemma
    March 9, 2015

    Scotland is definitely colder than southern England! Although maybe I’ve just been unfortunate with the weather when I’ve been :/
    I do love visiting Scotland and Ireland though, I feel right at home there being a natural redhead.

    Gem x

    • Amber
      March 9, 2015

      It’s colder than the south of England – it’s not like the Arctic, though!

  • Steffi
    March 9, 2015

    Now I feel like a *bad* tourist because when I visited Scotland I expected none of these things :p

  • Becky Aris
    March 9, 2015

    I’m from Bournemouth and am visiting Edinburgh for the first time this weekend, am so excited! Are you telling me I don’t need to pack snow boots and thermals? 🙂

    • Amber
      March 9, 2015

      Ha, I wouldn’t bet on it, unfortunately: it was snowing last week – aargh!

  • Suze
    March 9, 2015

    Oh and doesn’t everyone drink Irn Bru all the time? (when they’re not knocking back obscene amounts of whiskey, obviously) 😉

    • Amber
      March 9, 2015

      Quite a lot of people do drink Irn Bru : I think it’s horrible, but I seem to be in the minority with that one!

  • mandy
    March 9, 2015

    I lived in Edinburgh for 4 years and it was bl**dy freezing! Took me years to warm up once I’d moved back to England…..

    I also knew a Canadian who lived there at the same time and he said he’d never experienced such cold – which may sound odd but his reasoning was that the Scottish cold was damp and got into your bones whereas the Canadian cold was dry and did not – it made perfect sense to me at the time!

  • Amy
    March 9, 2015

    I spent a semester abroad at St. Andrews in 1998. There were a couple of very old men in town who wore kilts daily, but that was the only time I really saw kilts outside of ceilidhs. Foreign students arrived a week early so we could acclimate, and we had to taste haggis (blergh!), attend a practice ceilidh (I squashed so many toes), and learn Oh Flower of Scotland, complete with “wankers!” shout after the line about proud Edward’s army. I loved every minute of it. We were also informed that the Shell Garage carried fried Mars bars if we ever craved a late-night snack, but I never bought one. A butcher shop in town made haggis daily and kept it in the window, probably for the benefit of tourists. I never saw anyone leave with one.

    My dorm window faced the sea, and I swear the wind blew right through it every night. I think the wind off the water made it seem much cooler than the actual temperature. A lovely woman named Iona worked in the dorm, and she had never visited the island of Iona, but it was on her bucket list. I hope she’s had a chance to go by now. She frequently told me about the antics of her bairns, and I miss hearing the word bairn. I miss pretty much everything about Scotland: the people are friendly and welcoming, the country is beautiful, there’s historical stuff to explore around every corner, and Scottish accents are the best. I can’t wait to go back sometime. Visiting Shetland during Up Helly Aa is on my own bucket list.

  • Helen
    March 9, 2015

    Love that pic of you in the heels with the kilted gentleman! I have a ‘thing’ about Scotland – I’m a Scotophile (like a Francofile) and I have to say – I did take a picture of a scottish bagpiper when I was in Edinburgh last year 🙂 Love your blog – keep writing! Helen x

  • Jaynie
    March 9, 2015

    I find it so strange how some of my family / family friends in the southern half of the UK talk about Scotland like it’s the moon. Like “Oh, I’ve *always* wanted to go to Edinburgh! You’re so lucky you get to go!”. As if there aren’t any motorways or airports or trains that leave several times a day.

    Best instance of this was a conversation with someone who had just come back to the UK from Tokyo. And who promptly asked if I, Jaynie the Canadian, had ever met so-and-so from St. John’s. The distance between my home town and St. John’s is substantially greater than the distance between London and Moscow, for the record. Seems to be a common theme! The fact that it is unlikely for 5 million or 35 million people to all be on a first name basis evidently escapes many people.

    As a tourist, I like the native languages on signs thing, but I think that’s just because it makes me feel at home. I reckon, thought, that there is something to be said for the notion that unshakable, humid, coastal cold, such as you have, is worse than prairie cold, which at least has the good grace not to follow you inside. Mind you, there is something even greater to be said for moving to a warmer bit of the country, if you ask me! 🙂

    • Amber
      March 9, 2015

      Haha, I always think that’s funny, too: I’ll get people talking about how I’m “aaaaaaalllll the way up there in Scotland!”, and then they’ll reveal that that they live about 150 miles away or something – I mean, I can fly to London in less than an hour: it’s really not THAT far!

  • Lisa
    March 10, 2015

    I’m so glad you included the myth about Scottish people being mean as this one REALLY bothers me. Like you, I’m completely baffled as to why people think this as, in my experience, Scots folk are the most generous in the world. If, for example, you’re at a wedding with people from all over, the Scots will always be the first to offer to buy a round!

  • Robert Harris
    March 10, 2015

    We had a tour guide in Nova Scotia last fall, dressed in full Scottish outfit, kilt, cap, jacket with tie, and a dagger (name?) in his stocking. Very well dressed and very personable, but with a maple leaf symbol on the jacket lapel.

  • Trudy
    March 10, 2015

    I really want to come visit Scotland sometime, seeing a fair percentage of my ancestors came from there! I need to do some more research on what area. I have to admit that often when I have heard a Scots speak I have been completely unable to understand what they have been saying, and probably presumed they were speaking Gaelic! But country stereotypes are so stupid really. When I visited the States, heaps of people seemed to think that all NZers could do the haka like the All Blacks. Sorry, I have no idea how it goes, except for a lot of shouting and stamping of feet!

  • asheslaree
    March 10, 2015

    I just loved all these. To be honest I don’t think I ever heard or believed any of these things, but I may just have lived on the Internet too long, so I know and read so may international things. The only thing I have to say is I believed is that it’s cold, though when your from the the southern united states, everything is cold. I bet I’ve seen more kilts at Sci fi conventions and renaissance fairs then you see on a regular basis. There seems to be a trend with it among the nerd community here. ☺

  • Rtuth
    March 10, 2015

    This is hilarious! I can’t believe someone would actually think Scots only live in ancient stone houses or do the highland fling down the pub every weekend. Bizarre. People are dumb.

  • Steph
    March 10, 2015

    I think I remember the birth of battered mars bars! I’m sure I saw it as a feature on Newsround! I’m pretty sure the feature was just about ‘Oh, look at this funny little chip shop that’s selling battered Mars Bars! How funny!’ and it was entirely coincidental that said chip shop was in Scotland. Bizarre how it’s now become a ‘Scottish’ thing! It’s a bit like when you said you liked chocolate oranges that one time, so everyone starts buying you chocolate orange themed Bday and Xmas gifts for the rest of your life (true story, ask my big bro, I still buy him one every year even though he’s since said he isn’t that keen after all! Or my Nana, who died leaving is a houseful of pig trinkets!)

  • Michelle H
    March 10, 2015

    Ha ha, Deep Fried Mars Bars! We were the tourists who expected to see them everywhere (my dad saw it on TV, so it must be true). We spent our last day in Edinburgh looking high and low for the darn things, and finally found a place that sold them. We got one to split and I am glad we didn’t each order one. It was sooo rich that a single bite was enough.

  • Stacey
    March 10, 2015

    I live outside of Seattle, and somehow this area got a HUGE influx of Scottish immigrants, so that it’s not uncommon to actually see men walking around wearing their casual kilts with Doc’s. There’s even a huge annual festival (along with some smaller ones throughout the year) celebrating Scottish heritage, with the bagpipe music (my ears!!) and the traditional dances and games. My bloodline is a nice mix of pretty much everything, but the majority is Irish/Scottish so it was interesting to see some of my ‘homeland’ without having to spend money to travel!

  • Porcelina
    March 10, 2015

    But do you like a fine single malt whisky, that’s what I want to know?!

    I always think Scotland has similar weather to Wales, but I have no evidence to back that up, it’s just in my head!

    • Amber
      March 10, 2015

      Me? Nah, I’ve never been a whisky drinker – wine all the way!

  • Megan
    March 10, 2015

    You do see people wearing kilts if there’s rugby on at Murrayfield. Even in McDonalds 🙂

  • Fiona
    March 10, 2015

    They definitely still teach ceilidh dancing at school, my kids do it. It’s a handy life skill ;-). I also like whisky but only very occasionally! One thing I have found people don’t know is that Edinburgh is actually quite a small city and definitely not the biggest in Scotland. (And that we have other cities!) I suppose it’s natural to assume that it would be as it’s the capital but nope. The other thing is that everyone has a clan tartan – I’ve been asked what ‘my’ one is loads – end up just going back a few generations and picking one I like :-).

    • Amber
      March 11, 2015

      I get asked about clans and tartans too! I think maybe the idea that we all care about that stuff is another myth that needs debunking – the only people I know who talk about their “clan” are North Americans!

  • Tanith
    March 11, 2015

    I’ve visited Scotland twice in the last 5 years, and we had temperatures in the high 20s both times, so clearly Scotland has a beautiful sunny climate 🙂

    Also, my Dad, who is Australian but of Scottish parents, often joked about the stinginess of Scots, so I guess it is a pretty old joke, but I still have no idea where it came from or why!

    I personally really enjoy when the Australian myths are true for me. I *do* have kangaroos jumping down the road beside my car sometimes 🙂 And I love it.

  • Fiona
    March 11, 2015

    Yes!! This is such a good post!
    I lived in Stockholm for 3 years and I remember when I moved there I would hear people make these jokes about Scottish people being tight with their money. I had never even heard of this before then and I had never, ever had a reason to think that this was true!

    I live on a TINY scottish island with only 170 people on it so when I would go on the ferry to Highschool people would ask if we had electricity…. yes, we do! And last year a visitor to Raasay said “WHEN did you get roads?! I don’t remember there being so many roads..”…. they’ve been there for a good few hundred years so don’t know where that came from!!

    p.s first time seeing your site, love it. Looking forward to reading more when I get a chance 🙂

  • Rosie
    March 11, 2015

    Stereotypes are a funny thing aren’t they? I don’t pay any attention to them at all because they’re mostly incorrect and ridiculous – though I do wish that people all wear the clothing everyone thinks they do.

    I went to Scotland for the first time over Christmas and I loved it, so much that I’m going back in April. I want to live in a house in Scotland in a tiny town in the middle of no where.

    • Fiona
      March 12, 2015

      Rosie, my house fits that description and might be going on market soon ;-). I will keep you posted!

  • Jesd
    March 12, 2015

    I am from South Africa and I will say that we generally get ignorance from Americans – I don’t know why this is but there you have it. Some of my favs are:
    Do I live in a mud hut? Do I have lions in my back yard? Why I’m not African? Or people marvel at how well I speak “American”…
    Am I racisit? This one really saddens me.

  • depy
    March 13, 2015

    Great post Amber as usual! I visited Edinburgh five years ago during Christmas and I loved every bit of it. I had heard some of these stereotypes but I never believed any of them. Even the weather was as it is supposed to be in Christmas time , snowy and beautiful! As for the stinginess of Scots, I think you should blame Carl Barks popular cartoon character “Uncle Scrooge McDuck”!

  • Kelly
    March 13, 2015

    When I was at high school we did a 2 week exchange in the US and at one point were asked if we had television in Scotland…we pointed out that the guy who invented it was from Scotland!

    To be fair, we are also the reason that there might be a bunch of 30-something Americans who think a haggis is a 3-legged animal who lives in the hills.

    • Selina
      June 5, 2015

      ‘who think a haggis is a 3-legged animal who lives in the hills’

      Best thing I’ve heard on the subject of haggis

  • Darenna Rainsdon
    March 17, 2015

    This was a fun post to read. I’ve only traveled to Scottland the one time but we didn’t go with a bunch of expectations. More hopes actually. As in, let’s pull over to take bucolic sheep-and-heather photos without anyone knowing what heather actually looks like. Or the hope that the place was crawling with hot Scots, kilts being entirely beside the point. It wasn’t, any more than any other place is. They seemed to be hoarding them in a pub in Tain, that was my observation. I also learned (again in a pub) that some natives of Glasgow consider Aberdeen a sh*t hole. Their words not mine. I took that phrase home with me.

  • Steff
    March 25, 2015

    I’m an American transplant to Scotland for 14 years now (another Aberdonian), and I can confirm that most of my friends and family who have visited have been quite disappointed by the lack of ancient cottages and other stereotypical stuff! And also my Scottish husband has been gawped at like an alien on many a trip Stateside and asked all sorts of embarrassing questions: “What language do they speak there?” (hangs head in shame on behalf of America!). I will say that Doric (Och Aye Fit like etc) is not going anywhere in Aberdeen, if anything it feels likes it’s gained strength since I moved here – Scottish friends from elsewhere who never spoke Doric seem to pick it up ironically and then before you know it it’s part of their vocabulary!

  • Emma Everleigh
    March 26, 2015

    Haha, loved this post, Amber! Definitely agree with all of these. Whenever it snows here in Dorset, people are always like, “I bet you’re used to this, though!”, but no, it doesn’t actually snow that much in Scotland – except maybe in the Highlands. Also, it is definitely the harsh wind that makes it feel so cold! Even though you can purchase Irn-Bru quite easily here in England, my husband once asked for it in a McDonald’s, and they were all, “What is that?!”. xxx

  • Annette
    April 3, 2015

    Loved this, Amber! It reminds me so much of Bavaria. Lederhosen and Dirndl are completely unknown i.e. not worn outside of Bavaria (although in some variations in certain regions of Austria, Switzerland and Italy). But that’s what people first think of (plus Oktoberfest…)
    However, it is important to keep up the traditions, culture and language. I can still speak Bavarian but my children unfortunately don’t do that. And for certain occasions I love wearing my Dirndl.
    BTW, I do love Scottish Dances for Burns’ Night!

    Annette | Lady of Style

  • Emily
    April 7, 2015

    Just seen this post. I mentioned on another thread that I’m teetotal, which often leaves people aghast. When they discover I’m from Scotland there’s even more shock – surely all my family are heavy drinkers?

    Actually, no. My mother hates the stuff and on the rare occasion she feels goaded into having one glass of white wine, she suffers for it. My grandparents never had any alcohol in the house and my granddad was shocked when I went to the pub with my pals aged 18. His parents didn’t drink and I have no reason to believe that generations preceding them were any different. and they weren’t island-dwelling Wee Frees either, just ordinary folk from Gorgie in the east of Edinburgh.

    Plenty of Scots do drink, of course, but to my mind no more or less that the rest of the Union.

    • Amber
      April 7, 2015

      Yeah, I know a lot of people who like to drink, but I also know quite a lot of people (probably more, actually) who don’t drink at all, or who drink very little. I do think the UK in general has a big drinking culture compared to some other places, but I don’t think Scotland has any more of one than the rest of the UK does – or not from what I’ve observed, anyway!

  • Deserae
    May 8, 2015

    Oh gosh, this cracks me up! And embarrasses me for my country. I am moving to Edinburgh from California.

    This whole post is hilarious. I can’t believe anyone wouldn’t know English is spoken in Scotland, but then, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if I am a surfer as if all the 40 million people that live in Cali all ride surf boards.

    One you didn’t cover: All Scottish have red hair. I know this isn’t true, but they certainly show that often enough in American media.

    Loving this blog so far! Thanks for the chuckle!

  • Eleanna
    October 26, 2015

    This is so funny! I spent a year in Scotland as a postgrad student in Glasgow and I can totally relate! Although I didn’t expect people to live in ancient dwellings or listen to bagpipes all the time, I was quite surprised that Scottish men didn’t fit the stereotype portrayed in romantic novels (guilty me, I know, I should be reading something more quality LOL). Not that they’re bad of course. But I expected everyone to be more like Jammie in Outlander 😉

  • Kimberly Benoit
    February 7, 2016

    Please forgive my late post, but I have only just found your blog and this post has left me chuckling. I am from southern Louisiana in the US. We also have a LOT of misconceptions about how we live, speak, and behave. Most use the movie “Waterboy” as a basis for how we must live. They all think we are uneducated, use pirogues (canoes) to travel and that we are missing most of our teeth. In all fairness, I do know some areas like this, but it truly is not the norm.

    I am planning my first trip to Scotland this fall and can honestly say that I have not heard of any of these. I have actually heard the opposite, mostly from those who have visited. They have said that Scots are kinder and more welcoming than most. In my experiences with preparing and researching my trip, I have had a similar experience. Crazy how misconceptions form and are cultivated.

  • Nicola
    June 13, 2016

    As a Canadian living in Edinburgh, I always find the ‘Scotland’s like the Arctic’ stereotype quite funny, because I *miss* having proper winters. In a way, the Scottish winter is a lot grimmer than back home, because the night lasts nearly 16 hours, and when it’s not night it’s probably grey and dreich, whereas back home the days are longer, sunnier and, thanks to all the snow, brighter. I’ve never seen a -40 wind chill in Edinburgh, but on the flip side in my hometown the average summer temperature is double digits 😉

  • Heather Byrne
    November 25, 2017

    Lol, I hated country dancing when I was made to do it in 1st year of high school, but now? I love it! I love a good heuch and teuch at any opportunity.

    I think the wedding/kilt thing is more prevalent north of the Central Belt- all weddings I’ve attended north of Glasgow without exception, have had ceilidh bands with lots of dancing and lots of kilts, even out with the wedding party. Kilts are common at any evening celebration too, from the young lads at their high school dance to awards ceremonies or family celebration parties etc. But I’d agree that even when worn in a casual manner, it’s for an occasion of sorts, be it international sporting occasions, Highland Games, occasions like that.

    *edited to add, realised when I was posting that my profile pic is me and MrB doing an Orcadian Strip The Willow at our friend’s wedding- one of the most enjoyable country dances out there!

  • Pamela Taylor
    November 25, 2017

    Love this!! I am Scottish too and it made laugh out loud x

  • Donna Earl Leonard
    November 25, 2017

    I never believed any of these stereotypes. I assumed the weather was more like the Pacific Northwest…

    Though… I thought Scottish people traveled around through time and space with a mad man in a blue box? Or sometimes they *are* the mad man in the blue box?

  • Georgina Adie
    November 25, 2017

    Country dancing in schools is still going strong. I keep telling my teenage daughter that it will come in handy in the future when she goes to weddings .

  • Lisa Delanty
    May 31, 2019

    Fun read. I didn’t know much about Scottish culture at all and wanted get get some myths busted before I assumed anything ?? and I’m keen to learn because I’ve just linked both sides of my father’s heritage to two clans in Scotland, thanks to a few hints of clan names and a tartan pattern described by my mother. It has to have been the best 24 hours I’ve ever had! (Especially since I’ve just had surgery a week ago and I can’t do much else yet ?)

    I read somewhere that only 20% of Scottish families identify with a Clan. Does this sound about right? Do you identify with a clan?
    My Great great Grandmother was a Fyfe, which I learn yesterday was also spelt as MacDuff and found her family Tartan and crest as the MacDuff dress tartan.
    I then looked into my maiden name Johnston, which took a little longer, but I learnt that it was the same as the Johnstone Clan Tartan and crest. Then as my Dad explained, they eventually migrated to Ireland and was surprised to find a site that linked the two with a coat of arms that still used the same spur with wings from their Scottish crest.

    It has been a wonderful adventure discovering our heritage. I have thoroughly enjoyed it ??

    I’d love to hear back from you if you’ve got anything to share. Real conversations can be more fun than just research.

    Kind regards,
    Lisa D

    • Amber
      May 31, 2019

      I’ve lived here my entire life, and don’t know anyone who knows or cares about clans, so 20% actually sounds really high to me! It’s just not part of our modern culture at all – or not where I live, at least!

  • Chris J Brown
    November 22, 2019

    Haha that’s some really interesting stuff about scotish stereotypes 😀