12 Scottish Stereotypes that are Blatantly Untrue

Want to know how to really annoy a Scot? Well, trotting out any of these tired old Scottish stereotypes is one way to do it: here are 11 of them to get you started…

Scottish Stereotypes That Aren’t Actually True

10 annoying stereotypes about Scottish people

Scottish people traits: they all have red hair and freckles

Er, so, I actually DO have red hair and freckles, so this possibly wasn’t the best example to start off with, now I come to think of it, but hey, that’s just me: and, well, quite few other Scots, actually. OK, OK, we DO have our fair share of redheads here, but we’re still very much in the minority compared to other hair colours, so if you’ve ever wondered why all of the Scottish people you see in movies and on TV are redheads, it’s just lazy writing, and the perpetuation of one of the biggest Scottish stereotypes. (For more stereotypes about redheads, click here…)

And Scottish men all wear kilts

Sorry, 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 where you can expect to see a range of Scottish stereotypes out in force, to please the visitors.

Related: 14 Things You Absolutely MUST NOT DO When Visiting Scotland

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.

Scottish personality traits: Scottish people are cheap

I 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

Honestly, 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…)

Mountain in Glencoe, Scotland

(We do have a lot of mountains, though: that’s one of the Scottish stereotypes that’s actually true…)

Scotland has a similar climate to the Arctic circle

Look, 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 Scottish people live in castles or ancient stone cottages

When 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!”

No, 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, doing their best to trot out some “hilarious” Scottish stereotypes for us. Please, don’t be that person…

Scottish people speak Gaelic

According 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

One 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. Nevertheless, it’s still one of the biggest Scottish stereotypes out there – so it should probably have been number one on this list, actually…

And golf

As the home of golf, it would stand to reason that most Scots play, right? Wrong. I personally can’t imagine many things more boring than golf, and although I do know people who play, it’s not nearly as much of a “thing” here as you might think. Now football, on the other hand…

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

This 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 main Scottish stereotypes I see come up again and again 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.

What do Scottish People look like: they are always drunk

It’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 other Scottish stereotypes you can think of?

(P.S. If you’re interested in Scotland, please follow me on Instagram for more insights into Scottish life…)

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  • 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?

    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.

        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!

            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!

            March 9, 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.

              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!

            March 10, 2015
          • Perry


            I am an American and I know that Scottish people speak English and also know what the currency is. Who are these Americans who show their ignorance? I would like to meet them. I guess if I spoke to them on my accurate knowledge of general American history and current events, they might think I am a foreigner.

            October 2, 2023
    • Wendy


      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!

      March 10, 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!

    March 9, 2015
  • Sinead


    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…

    March 9, 2015
      • Rebecca Alexandra Knight


        I came across a really awful stereotype about both Scottish and Irish folk, a certain number of people seem to think that by default both nationalities are stupid. I cannot agree with this at all in my experience both nationalities far from this, for me by default they are kind, friendly and generous. I think that how daft a person is down to personality not nationality, I don’t understand where people get this idea from.

        September 22, 2023
  • 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?

    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.

    March 9, 2015
    • Blue


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

      January 3, 2017
  • TinaD


    (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. 🙂

    March 9, 2015
  • Flagless


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

    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…

    March 9, 2015
  • Alison


    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’…

    March 9, 2015
  • Aw I really thought you all lived in castles. We stayed in one last time we were in Scotland. Great post

    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.

    March 9, 2015
  • Liz Tea Bee


    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.)

    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.

    March 9, 2015
  • Love the post. I got the same feeling when I saw the road signs. It was like going on holiday abroad 🙂

    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

    March 9, 2015
  • Suze


    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? 😉

    March 9, 2015
  • Myra


    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 🙂

    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

    March 9, 2015
  • Steffi


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

    March 9, 2015
  • Becky Aris


    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? 🙂

    March 9, 2015
  • Suze


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

    March 9, 2015
  • mandy


    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!

    March 9, 2015
  • Amy


    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.

    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

    March 9, 2015
  • Jaynie


    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! 🙂

    March 9, 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!

    March 10, 2015
  • Robert Harris


    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.

    March 10, 2015
  • Trudy


    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!

    March 10, 2015
  • asheslaree


    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. ☺

    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.

    March 10, 2015
  • Steph


    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!)

    March 10, 2015
  • Michelle H


    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.

    March 10, 2015
  • Stacey


    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!

    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!

    March 10, 2015
  • Megan


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

    March 10, 2015
  • Fiona


    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 :-).

    March 10, 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.

    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 🙂

    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.

    March 11, 2015
    • Fiona


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

      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.

    March 12, 2015
  • depy


    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”!

    March 13, 2015
  • Kelly


    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.

    March 13, 2015
    • Selina


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

      Best thing I’ve heard on the subject of haggis

      June 5, 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.

    March 17, 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!

    March 25, 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

    March 26, 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

    April 3, 2015
  • Emily


    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.

    April 7, 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!

    May 8, 2015
    • Anne Johnson


      The redhead part comes from the Vikings having sailed into Scotland and raped and pillaged, or so I have been told. That is truly what they believe in Aberdeenshire.
      You’ll also find that the haggis has one leg longer than the other ~ to help them run around the hills (LOL). That is a wonderful story, but it is just a story!!!
      I love the Clan stories : I’m a MacPherson (son of the son of the Parson) and the motto is ‘Touch not the cat without a glove!’ Wonderful! AnneJ

      September 19, 2023
  • 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 😉

    October 26, 2015
  • Kimberly Benoit


    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.

    February 7, 2016
  • Nicola


    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 😉

    June 13, 2016
  • 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!

    November 25, 2017
  • Love this!! I am Scottish too and it made laugh out loud x

    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?

    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 .

    November 25, 2017
  • Lisa Delanty


    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

    May 31, 2019
  • Haha that’s some really interesting stuff about scotish stereotypes 😀

    November 22, 2019
  • Louis McNaught


    Sorry, I got looking at this because I was intrigued as I have yet to meet someone outside of my family with our surname.
    Our surname, McNaught, is a sept of clan MacNaughton (from Argyll) and has a tartan, so you do have one 🙂

    December 22, 2020
  • Brenden Johnston


    So I live in the United States and I enjoy European culture and enjoy the UK’s culture the most, the reason being my heritage is Scottish and English and my family members seem to think it’s wrong to identify as Scottish and English and talk socially to people who are over there (i dont go around saying to random people that I’m full on British like I’m from their or anything). Am I wrong for doing these things?

    January 10, 2021
  • George Ferguson


    I have another one. Every Scot is an excellent fighter.

    May 8, 2022
  • Alex


    My 12 year old friend Max says all Scottish people wear green hats and talk very fast. When asked why, he said leprechauns. Obviously he doesn’t know much about Scotland. And what he does “know,” is actually about Ireland.

    July 4, 2022
  • Perry


    Just want to let you know, there are a lot of Americans that are very knowledgeable of Scotland (language, history, economy, government, culture, etc.).

    October 2, 2023