Famous Scots

We’ve picked out a few notable men and women from Scottish history, whose stories are highlighted at Trust places around the country.

Robert Burns

Portrait of Robert Burns

Scotland’s National Bard was born in a humble thatched cottage in Alloway, Ayrshire. It’s now part of Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, and the story of Burns’s genius is told through a tour of the village, via Alloway Auld Kirk and over the Brig o’ Doon. The nearby Bachelors’ Club in Tarbolton, where Burns learned to dance, became a freemason and founded a men-only debating society, was rescued from demolition by the National Trust for Scotland and the Burns Federation in 1937.

The Life of Robert Burns

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh​​

Arguably Scotland’s most famous architect and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was known to  control every aspect of an architectural project, from light fittings to clocks and cutlery. The Hill House in Helensburgh has been restored by the Trust to look exactly as it did in 1904. It is a masterful mixture of Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau, with Japanese touches, showing how Mackintosh and his wife, the artist Margaret Macdonald, could bring all kinds of styles together in perfect harmony.

Mackintosh and the Hill House

Robert the Bruce

Robert the Bruce statue at Bannockburn

Robert the Bruce was a nobleman from south-west Scotland. Most people would agree that he was Scotland’s most successful monarch. But although he was crowned in 1306, and won independence for Scotland at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, it wasn’t until 1328 that Bruce was finally recognised by the English as King of the Scots. Visitors to Bannockburn can follow in Robert’s footsteps, and take their place on the battlefield in an award-winning 3D experience.

Mary, Queen of Scots

portrait of ​Mary, Queen of Scots​

The life of Mary, Queen of Scots would rival any modern epic. She was crowned when she was just nine months old and smuggled to France aged five. Before she was beheaded at the orders of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, she had been married three times, imprisoned in a castle and even accused of assassination. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Mary loved to spend time at Falkland Palace, a place that reminded her of the chateaux of the French royal court where she grew up.

Robert and William Adam

The oval Staircase in Culzean

William Adam was at the forefront of Scottish architecture in the first half of the 18th century. As the man who designed stately homes like Haddo House in Aberdeenshire and the House of Dun in Angus, his influence on Scottish architecture is perhaps only bettered by his son. Robert Adam was the second of four brothers and achieved worldwide fame for his work in developing Edinburgh’s New Town including The Georgian House, and for his role in redesigning Culzean Castle.

J M Barrie

Statue of Peter Pan at J M Barrie's Birthplace

Everybody knows the story of Peter Pan, and the character’s creator spent his childhood in a small whitewashed cottage near Kirriemuir. J M Barrie grew up with his seven brothers and sisters in a typical weaver’s cottage, and performed his first play in the wash-house when he was seven. Fans of his work can visit his birthplace, with its cramped box beds and unique collection of costumes from the very first production of Peter Pan.

Thomas Carlyle

Portrait of Thomas Carlyle

A tiny house in Ecclefechan, near Lockerbie, is the birthplace of one of the most significant thinkers in Scottish history, and has remained virtually untouched since 1881. Thomas Carlyle was born in 1795 and studied at Edinburgh University. He was a renowned philosopher, novelist, speaker and historian, but his masterpiece – an entertaining history of the French Revolution – was accidentally burned by a friend’s maid. Thankfully, Carlyle was able to rewrite the whole first volume from memory!

Hugh Miller

​Portrait of Hugh Miller​

Hugh Miller was a 19th-century fossil hunter, folklorist, newspaper editor and social justice campaigner. He was a man of incredible physical strength, but also had a dazzling intellect and a vast variety of interests. His birthplace is a modest thatched cottage in Cromarty that was built by Miller’s great grandfather, who was a pirate. The Georgian villa next door was built by Miller’s father, and is now an interactive museum full of fossils, manuscripts, and other eyecatching artefacts.