Explore Literary Scotland

Scotland’s national holiday is celebrated on Saint Andrew’s Day on 30th November. Let’s take some time to explore Scotland, and then get to know some of greatest Scottish writers. Choose what you want to focus on with your students, or do them all! We recommend these projects for 13-18 students at pre-intermediate level and above.

1 Who was Saint Andrew?

  • He was a Galilean fisherman.
  • His name means ‘strong’.
  • He was the brother of St Peter.
  • The Flag of Scotland is St Andrew’s Cross, the Saltire.
  • Andrew was first recognised as an official patron saint of Scotland in 1320 at the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath.
The Flag of Scotland.

The Flag of Scotland.

Project ideas:

  • Find out about the legend of The Voyage of St Rule from Greece to Scotland.
  • Play with flags on the Talking Culture Game website.

Learn more about St Andrew here:

2 Let’s travel to Scotland


1 Open Google Maps or any map, and find Scotland on it. Are the following statements true or false?

  1. Scotland is part of the United Kingdom.
  2. The capital of Scotland is Aberdeen.
  3. Scotland is very mountainous.
  4. There are lots of islands around Scotland.
  5. Glasgow and Edinburgh are far from each other.

2 What are these places? Why are they important? Search an encyclopaedia or the Internet for answers.

  1. Loch Lomond
  2. Ben Nevis
  3. River Tay
  4. Munros
  5. Lowlands, Highlands and Cairngorms

3 Describe Scottish landscape. Find images of Scotland and use the following words to describe them.

magnificent, atmospheric, dramatic, picturesque fabulous, spectacular, diverse

mountains, coastline, rivers, forests, lochs, hills, treasures, islands, forts, parks, wildlife, landscape

3 Follow literary itineraries in Scotland

Choose one of the itineraries on the website below. Which one would you like to follow? Where will it take you?

4 Cultural and Literary Scotland

1 Authors born in Scotland

  • Kenneth Grahame, the author of  The Wind in the Willows was born in Edinburgh.
  • J. M. Barrie the author of Peter Pan was born in Kirriemuir.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories was born in Edinburgh.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson the author of Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde was born in Edinburgh

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2 Sir Walter Scott and Tartanry

Sir Walter Scott, the author of Waverley, Ivanhoe and Rob Roy, wrote historical fiction and he was responsible for the popularity of the tartan and the kilt. Read about the story on the Education Scotland website. Have you ever seen a tartan kilt? 

3 Scottish Myths and Legends

How many Scottish myths and legends have you heard? Click on the link to see an infographic on the official Scotland.org websiteWhen you have read the infographic, talk about these creatures.

  1. Cu Sith and Cat Sith
  2. Wulver
  3. Ghillie Dhu
  4. Bean Nighe
  5. Kelpie
  6. Morac
  7. Loch Ness Monster
  8. Fear Laith
Quiz from World Around by Maria Cleary. © Helbling Languages

Quiz from World Around by Maria Cleary. © Helbling Languages

4 A quiz about Scotland

Download this quiz in our culture course*, World Around written by Maria Cleary, and challenge your students to do the quiz. If they find the questions challenging ask them to do it as a research activity. 

*Unit 4 for is dedicated to Scotland in this course book.

5 Scottish films you should know about

These films can give you a historical and cultural report on Scottish culture. Please check the themes and PG rating of these films before you decide to watch them with your students.

  • The Brave Don’t Cry directed by Philip Leacock, 1952
  • Local Hero directed by Bill Forsyth, 1983
  • Another Time, Another Place directed by Michael Radford, 1983
  • Shallow Grave directed by Danny Boyle, 1994
  • Trainspotting directed by Danny Boyle, 1996
  • Carla’s Song directed by Ken Loach, 1997
  • My Name Is Joe directed by Ken Loach, 1998
  • Ratcatcher directed by Lynne Ramsay, 1999
  • Ae Fond Kiss directed by Ken Loach, 2004

Remember to watch the new, 2015 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth (the Scottish Play), directed by Justin Kurzel. 

  • Why is it called the ‘Scottish Play’?

More resources:

If you are interested in other literary explorations, check out these posts on this blog:

Comments are closed.