William Wallace (1270-1305)
The most famed Scot? Quite possibly. Popularised in modern times by the 1995 film Braveheart, William Wallace is to this day a household name in and outside of Scotland. William Wallace is famous for his resistance against English occupation and a handful of battles. Over time he has become a symbol for Scottish independence.
Robert the Bruce (1274-1329)
One can not mention William Wallace and Scottish independence, without mentioning Robert the Bruce, recently popularised by the Outlaw King. Robert the Bruce was famed for his role in the Scottish Wars of Independence, his defeat of the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and his reign as King of Scotland.
Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587)
With her recent portrayal both on the big screen in Mary Queen of Scots and in the controversially-acclaimed series Reign, Mary’s image has become increasingly popular. She was only six days old when her father died, and she succeeded him as Queen Mary of Scotland. Her reign in Scotland is known for its religious controversy and her feud with Elizabeth the 1st. Learn more: Scotland’s Mary Queen of Scots.
Rob Roy MacGregor (1671-1734)
Rob Roy is now famous worldwide having been the character in a number of Hollywood films. He stood up to authority in a time of social unrest. He was a businessman, a warrior, an outlaw, and a hero. Read more about this controversial figure here: Scotland’s Robin Hood: Rob Roy MacGregor.
Bonnie Prince Charlie (1720-1788)
A much-contested figure in Scottish history, Bonnie Prince Charlie was often referred to as the Young Pretender. He played a major part in the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. Read What Actually Happened at the Battle of Culloden for more information on Prince Charles Edward Stuart and how he impacted Scottish history.
Adam Smith (1723-1790)
This is not a name everyone will recognise, but Adam Smith was instrumental to modern-day economics. Often called the Father of Economics, Adam Smith wrote extensively on the subject, of which much is still relevant today. He devised what is known today as gross domestic commerce (GDP).
James Watt (1736-1819)
James Watt was an engineer known for his work on steam engine technology. He vastly improved the existing technology and developed the concept of horsepower. The energy unit, watt, was named after him.
Robert Burns (1759-1796)
Robert Burns is Scotland’s most loved poet and bard, famous for various works and for writing the words to Auld Lang Syne.
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
An author much favoured by Queen Victoria, Sir Walter Scott wrote Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, and Lady of the Lake. He popularised historical novels as a concept.
Mary Sommerville (1780-1872)
Mary Sommerville was a science writer, geographer, astronomer, mathematician and polymath. Although not known for one thing, she was known for her extensive writing and knowledge on various topics. Her book Physical Geography was used at schools and universities for over 50 years. She was invited to be the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Dr. David Livingstone (1813-1873)
Known for the often-quoted phrase, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” – David Livingstone was a Scottish explorer, physician, and missionary. On his exploration of southern and central Africa with his various expeditions of the Zambezi river, he was the first European to see and map Victoria Falls.
James Clerk-Maxwell (1831 – 1879)
Life today would not be what it is without the research of James Clerk-Maxwell. His research in electromagnetic theory was essential to the development of radio, TV, and mobile phones.
John Muir (1838-1914)
John Muir was an avid conservationist and naturalist. America owes John Muir the set up of the first National Parks like Yosemite, Mt. Rainier and the Grand Canyon.
Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)
Mr. Bell is best known for his invention of the telephone. He initially set out to invent a device that could help the deaf hear but ended up developing and patenting the first modern telephone.
J.M Barrie (1860-1937)
Kirriemuir born Barrie was the author of The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, otherwise known as the extremely popular Peter Pan.
Sir Alexander Flemming (1881-1944)
Sir Alexander Flemming greatly impact humanity with his discovery of penicillin whilst working on typhoid vaccinations.
The Edinburgh Seven (1869)
The Edinburgh Seven were the first women ever to attend a British University. Although they faced much opposition and were never permitted to graduate, they laid the foundations for change for female enrolment at University. The seven women: Sophia Jex-Blake, Isabel Thorne, Edith Pechey, Matilda Chaplin, Helen Evans, Mary Anderson, and Emily Bovell, received honorary degrees posthumously in 2019.
John Logie Baird (1888-1946)
Baird was responsible for the creation of the first public television, and the first colour television.
Nan Shepherd (1893-1981)
Nan was an author, poet, and adventurer. She is most well known for her book The Living Mountain, which inspired many. Watch Episode 3 of our Women in the Wild series, a short film about Elise Wortley, a woman inspired to retrace the footsteps of history’s few female explorers, including Nan’s.