Scottish confusion, controversy and cavemen

by Astrid Samuelsberg

Scotland is filled with beautiful scenery, great whisky and questionable cuisine. But if you thought the Scottish cuisine (or accent) was the most confusing part about Scotland, you are in for a surprise. Sure, knighting a penguin, haggis hurling and hosting a Tartan Martian party is little weird. Still, after extensive research, we have uncovered 5 even more confusing things about Scotland.

#1 The Tikka Masala Controversy

Tikka Masala is one of Scotland’s favourite dishes. In fact, one of Glasgow’s oldest Indian restaurants, Shish Mahal, claims to have invented Tikka Masala.  According to the owner, the restaurant received complaints that their Chicken Tikka was too dry sometime in the 1970s. The chef was so frustrated that he threw some tomato soup and yogurt into the dish. Luckily for Shish Mahal, Scottish people loved their new dish: the Chicken Tikka Masala. Shish Mahal later applied for Protected Destination of Origin status in 2009. Although their application was rejected, Shish Mahal was still named the best place on earth to try the dish by Lonely Planet.


#2 To be or not to be a true Scotsman

Ah, it’s the age-old, clichéd question: what does a true Scotsman wear under his kilt? Most Scotsmen will tell you, a true Scotsman wears nothing under his kilt. However, according to YouGov’s 2016 study, only 38% of Scottish men go commando. The rules and etiquette for proper undergarments (or lack thereof) when wearing a kilt is largely determined by circumstance. For example, the official rules for Highland dancers and athletes state that underwear must be worn to compete. Similarly, if you hire a kilt, common decency suggests you shouldn’t go completely bare. Scottish kilt-making firm Slanj, who designed kilts for Sean Connery and Ewan McGregor begged users to stop going commando with a catchy rhyme.

Though Scots like to prance about in their kilts wearing nae pants
Fir the next punter make it fair, dinnae firgit to wear a pair

To make matters more confusing, any Scotsman wearing underwear under his kilt can legally be fined two cans of beer. It’s very unlikely you will actually get fined, but why take the risk?


#3 Scottish World Cup Champions… of Elephant Polo?

For some bizarre reason, Scotland invented elephant polo. The rules are fairly simple: the game runs for two 10-minute chukkas, and if you fall off your elephant play stops until you remount. Oh, and if your elephant lies down, you get a foul. Perhaps the most surprising part is that Scotland has won the Elephant Polo World Cup several times. In 2014, 45-year old Samantha Prentice led the Scottish Women’s team to World Cup victory by scoring all 27 goals. Speaking about her victory, Prentice revealed she doesn’t even have her own elephant to train with at home.


#4 The lion and the unicorn

The lion has been a longstanding symbol of English royalty, but according to Babylonian folklore, the unicorn is its natural enemy. As the ancient proverb goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Perhaps this is where William I drew his inspiration when he placed a unicorn on the Scottish coat of arms. Today, the British coat of arms depicts a lion and unicorn to symbolise the United Kingdom. Funnily enough, the second natural born enemy of the lion is said to be the elephant. Perhaps this explains the elephant polo?


#5 The Modern Cavemen

You may have thought that cavemen ceased to exist centuries ago, but until 1915, living in a cave was still legal in Scotland. In 1886, Dr Arthur Mitchell discovered 24 naked men and women living in a cave in Wick Bay. According to the doctor, the cavemen were illiterate and heavily scarred, but generally well-mannered. Still, according to the government census, there were still 55 people living in caves as recently as 1917.

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