The Scottish Enlightenment took place during the 1700s, new intellectual ideas were developed, and novel scientific discoveries were made. This century is considered Scotland's Golden Age. By the middle of the 18th century, Scots had a 75 percent literacy level, which placed them amongst the most literate people in the World. During this time period thinkers in Scotland were questioning society, nature and authority. Because of their new reasoning, great achievements in engineering, medicine, law, philosophy and other spectrums improved. Many of the ideas developed during this time period would go on to shape the modern world.
At the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century, people from the highland region were forced to move from their farm lands. Mixed farming was dying out and less profitable than the new profitable sheep-farming. In 1780, extra tenants who worked on the arable mixed farms that were no longer needed were 'cleared' off and kicked out of their homes, the clearances continued on for another 66 years.
The biggest mass emigration during this time period is called the 'Year of the Sheep', it occurred in 1792 and forced many people to go the Carolinas and Canada. Most highlanders went to the cities which helped lead to the industrial revolution, whereas others went to the United States, Australia and New Zealand to start a new life.
Some of the clearance stories from this time period were extremely brutal. Being forced to leave your home and the only job you have ever known caused many people to fight back and in the end the Gaelic culture and clan society would forever be changed. Some of the new cleared up land would become planned towns, such as Fochabers, Inveraray, Plockton, Dufftown and Kyleakin.
James Clerk Maxwell
This famous Scottish physicist and mathematician, discovered electromagnetism and was the first to find out that magnetic and electric fields travel at the speed of light. This discovery would help other great thinkers such as Albert Einstein. His electromagnetic theory and 'Maxwell Equations' showed that electricity, magnetism and light are all created from the same phenomenon. His work has been called the 'second great unification in physics', the first unification was done by Isaac Newton.
Robert Burns is also known as The Bard, and Scotland's
favourite son. He is Scotland's most renowned poet, and often is regarded as their national poet. Most of his poems are written in Scots language but over the years his work has been translated more than any other Scottish poet. He was born into poverty but still became a well read, intelligent scholar. Burn's is also considered the pioneer of the Romantic Movement and his poems and lyrics are still popular today.