Gaels of Scotland

The Gaels of Scotland or, simply Gaels, (Scottish Gaelic: Na Gàidheil) are an ethnolinguistic group found in Scotland – including the land of their origins, the Scottish Highlands (Scottish Gaelic: A' Gàidhealtachd) – and in the diaspora of Scotland within the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.[2] The Gaels as an ethno-linguistic group can also be found in Ireland and the Isle of Man.

Na Gaeil
Total population
 Scotland c.57,375 (linguistic)[1]
Scottish Gaelic
(Non-Gaelic: English · Scots)
Presbyterianism, Roman Catholic, Episcopalianism
Related ethnic groups
Picts, Scottish people


Within Scotland the term Gaelic most often refers to the Scots Gaelic language (Scottish Gaelic: Gàidhlig); however, it can also refer to the broader linguistic Goidelic group of Gaels – analogous with Hispanic (or Iberian) – that comprises the inhabitants the nations of Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man (Scottish Gaelic: cànanan Goidhealach). In Ireland the term is pronounced slightly differently.

Satellite image of Scotland and Ireland showing the approximate greatest extent of Dál Riata (shaded). The mountainous spine (Druim Alban) which separates the east and west coasts of Scotland can be seen.


The Scots Gaels derive from the overkingdom of Dál Riata, which generated various explanations of its origins, including a foundation myth of an invasion from Ireland and a more recent archaeological and linguistic analysis that points to a pre-existing maritime province united by the sea and isolated from the rest of Scotland by the mountainous ridge called the Druim Alban.[3][4] The archaeological evidence relates to Ireland while the linguistic evidence relates to Scotland, absent any evidence of conflict either in that exchange or in the erasing of pre-existing culture within that exchange. The cultural exchange includes passage of the M222 genotype within Scotland.[5]

Britain 500 CE
Sub-Roman Britain

The ethnolinguistic group expanded with the creation of the Kingdom of Alba, subsuming within it the previously Brittonic-speaking Picts.

A similar pattern of expansion into the Brittonic Kingdom of Strathclyde and the Kingdom of Galloway occurred - although the latter had previously been subsumed into the Norse-Gael Irish Sea and Scottish Sea regions created at the same time the Vikings cut off the islands of Argyll and the Hebrides from the Kingdom of Alba. Galwegian Gaelic survived until 1760, whilst Strathclyde's transition is less well documented despite linguistic certainty that it became a Gaelic language region.

The assimilation of Strathclyde into what then become known as the Kingdom of Scotland - Scots (deriving from Scoti) becoming a demonym for Dál Riata - marks the highpoint of the Scots Gaels in Scotland, as the adjacent Anglo-Saxon dominated region of the previously Brittonic Lothian gradually exported an Anglo-Saxon language that became known as the Scots language into Scotland when it too accepted the superiority of the Scots Gael Kingship.

The expansion of the Scots Gael Kingship ended as such with the beginnings of the Scoto-Norman Royal House period that gradually - and with no deep personal connection to the origins of the Kingship in Dál Riata or the Kingdom of Alba - lost Scots Gaelic as its tongue. However, the Kingship eventually united the Kingdom of Scotland with the Kingdom of England.

The Highland - Lowland divide that henceforth took root meant survival of the Scots Gaelic language and a reemergence of Gaelic identity - where previously it was broadly Scottish - as Scotland's Kingship took the Anglo-Saxon derived Scots language as its tongue. Mary Queen of Scots was the last monarch who ruled with the historically given title of Scots that linked the monarchy with the ethnolinguistic group, while her grandfather James IV was the last known Gaelic language monarch.

With the culturally devastating Highland Clearances, the spread of the Scots Gael diaspora into the region of the former British Empire has meant that Scots Gaelic is currently a transatlantic language (see Canadian Gaelic) while the diaspora covered a much wider area. In the early 21st century, the descendants of the Highland diaspora far outnumber the population in Scotland.


  1. ^ 2011 Census of Scotland, Table QS211SC. Viewed 30 May 2014.
  2. ^ Moffat, Alistair; Wilson, James (2017). "Northwards". The Scots: A Genetic Journey. Birrlin.
  3. ^ "How British is Scotland? Archaeological Origins of Scotland". Centre for Scottish and Celtic Studies. 26 January 2015.
  4. ^ Campbell, Ewan. "Were the Scots Irish?" in Antiquity No. 75 (2001). pp. 285–292.
  5. ^ "Scotland's DNA: Tartan export". The Scotsman. 3 March 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
Duncan II of Scotland

Donnchad mac Máel Coluim (Modern Gaelic: Donnchadh mac Mhaoil Chaluim; anglicised as Duncan II; c. 1060 – 12 November 1094) was king of Scots. He was son of Malcolm III (Máel Coluim mac Donnchada) and his first wife Ingibiorg Finnsdottir, widow of Thorfinn Sigurdsson.

Faroe Islanders

Faroese people or Faroe Islanders (Faroese: føroyingar) are a North Germanic ethnic group and nation native to the Faroe Islands. The Faroese are of mixed Norse and Gaelic origins.

About 21,000 Faroese live in neighbouring countries, particularly in Denmark, Iceland and Norway. Most Faroese are citizens of the Kingdom of Denmark, in which the Faroe Islands are a constituent nation. The Faroese language is one of the North Germanic languages and is closely related to Icelandic and to western Norwegian varieties.

History of Ireland (800–1169)

The history of Ireland 800–1169 covers the period in the history of Ireland from the first Viking raids to the Norman invasion. The first two centuries of this period are characterised by Viking raids and the subsequent Norse settlements along the coast. Viking ports were established at Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Limerick, which became the first large towns in Ireland.

Ireland consisted of many semi-independent túatha, and during the entire period, attempts were made by various factions to gain political control over the whole of the island. For the first two centuries of this period, this was mainly a rivalry between putative High Kings of Ireland from the northern and southern branches of the Uí Néill. The one who came closest to being de facto king over the whole of Ireland, however, was Brian Boru, the first high king in this period not belonging to the Uí Néill.

Following Brian's death at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, the political situation became more complex with rivalry for high kingship from several clans and dynasties. Brian's descendants failed to maintain a unified throne, and regional squabbling over territory led indirectly to the invasion of the Normans under Richard de Clare in 1169.

Scottish Gaelic

Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig [ˈkaːlɪkʲ] (listen)) or Scots Gaelic, sometimes also referred to simply as Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Celtic and Indo-European language family, native to the Gaels of Scotland. As a Goidelic language, Scottish Gaelic, like Modern Irish and Manx, developed out of Middle Irish. It became a distinct spoken language sometime in the 13th century, although a common literary language was shared by Gaels in both Ireland and Scotland down to the 16th century. Most of modern Scotland was once Gaelic-speaking, as evidenced especially by Gaelic-language placenames.

In the 2011 census of Scotland, 57,375 people (1.1% of the Scottish population aged over three years old) reported as able to speak Gaelic, 1,275 fewer than in 2001. The highest percentages of Gaelic speakers were in the Outer Hebrides. Nevertheless, there are revival efforts, and the number of speakers of the language under age 20 did not decrease between the 2001 and 2011 censuses. Outside Scotland, a dialect known as Canadian Gaelic has been spoken in eastern Canada since the 18th century. Nearly 4,000 Canadian residents today claim knowledge of Scottish Gaelic.Scottish Gaelic is not an official language of either the European Union or the United Kingdom. However, it is classed as an indigenous language under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which the British government has ratified, and the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 established a language-development body, Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Canadian people
and society
List of

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.