James VI, Stuart king of Scotland, also inherited the throne of England in 1603, and the Stuart kings and queens ruled both independent kingdoms until the Act of Union in 1707 merged the two kingdoms into a new state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Ruling until 1714, Queen Anne was the last Stuart monarch.

Scotland's ultimate victory in the Wars of Independence under David II confirmed Scotland as a fully independent and sovereign kingdom.

In the centuries after the departure of the Romans from Britain, there were four groups within the borders of what is now Scotland.

In the east were the Picts, with kingdoms between the river Forth and Shetland.

Later, its industrial decline following the Second World War was particularly acute.

In recent decades Scotland has enjoyed something of a cultural and economic renaissance, fuelled in part by a resurgent financial services sector and the proceeds of North Sea oil and gas.

In the following century, the Irish missionary Columba founded a monastery on Iona and introduced the previously pagan Scoti and pagan Picts to Celtic Christianity.

Following England's Gregorian mission, the Pictish king Nechtan chose to abolish most Celtic practices in favour of the Roman rite, restricting Gaelic influence on his kingdom and avoiding war with Anglian Northumbria.

As Rome finally withdrew from Britain, Gaelic raiders called the Scoti began colonizing Western Scotland and Wales.

According to 9th- and 10th-century sources, the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata was founded on the west coast of Scotland in the 6th century.

By the close of the Roman occupation of southern and central Britain in the 5th century, the Picts had emerged as the dominant force in northern Scotland, with the various Brythonic tribes the Romans had first encountered there occupying the southern half of the country.

Roman influence on Scottish culture and history was not enduring.

Scotland's recorded history began with the arrival of the Roman Empire in the 1st century, when the province of Britannia reached as far north as the line between the firths of Clyde to the Forth.