A Timeline of Scottish Gaelic

History of Scottish Gaelic

Exploring Scotland’s Gaelic Roots: A Timeline of Scottish Gaelic

For World Gaelic Week 2023, we’re diving into an exploration of the Scottish Gaelic language. In everything we do at Maccessori, we are inspired and influenced by Scotland. From the Scottish landscapes, culture, traditions, colours and even language, everything we create comes from Scotland somewhere. So on World Gaelic Week, let us teach you a little about Scottish Gaelic.

Scottish Gaelic is a distinct language with a rich and ancient history. From its early origins to its current use in Scotland today, explore the key moments that have defined Scottish Gaelic’s culture and evolution over time.

Timeline of Scottish Gaelic

Scots Gaelic stems from the Irish language. It was introduced in Scotland around AD 500 (displacing an early Celtic language), and a distinct dialect of Gaelic was developed by the 13th Century.

Writing in Scots Gaelic

Scotland experienced political unification around the 11th Century. This led to new and innovative ways of writing in Scottish Gaelic. During this time, laws were written using Old Irish which helped to standardise spelling conventions for Scottish Gaelic writers. Various Gaelic poets then began to compose verses which served as archives of key events within Scotland’s history and culture. These poems also helped keep Scottish Gaelic alive!

Scots Writers and Poets Recording our History

Medieval researchers and writers helped to keep Scottish Gaelic alive in an ever-changing landscape. Poets wrote about major events and key developments within Scotland’s history. These poets highlighted not just political conquests but also daily life, people and heroes of Scotland ensconced in folklore. Such rich sources contribute to a remarkable body of work which still influences Scotland today.

Clan Culture in the Highlands in the 18th Century

During the 18th century, clan culture and Gaelic-speaking communities surged across Scotland as a resurgence of loyalty and identity to Scots. The restructuring of clan boundaries led to groups reclaiming ancestral lands while re-instilling Gaelic language, music and customs in key economic centres such as fishing, weaving and building trades. At this time, gaels even began colonizing areas they previously did not inhabit and shared their rich culture with a variety of Clans. While some clans adopted English or Lowland Scots as their language of choice, many clung to their Scottish Gaelic roots allowing it to thrive sporadically across the country.

Protecting the Language Today

In the spirit of early Scottish Gaelic advocates, there are a number of organisations dedicated to guarding and protecting the legacy of Scottish Gaelic. Today, there is an ever-growing support network around Scotland in both urban areas and rural communities. From linguistic organizations like Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Comunn na Gàidhlig working to promote Gaelic language use, to festivals celebrating traditional music, art, dance and more; each of them helping to keep Gaelic alive today.


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