If you’ve been reading our reviews and using our maps you may have noticed that Gdansk is the home of two suburbs named Nowe Szkoty (New Scotland; Nowi Szotland in Kashubian and Neuschottland in German) and Stary Szkoty (Old Scotland; Stôri Szotland in Kashubian and Alt Schottland in German). There’s sound reasoning for this seemingly bizarre fixation with the home of tartan, as a scan through the history books reveals.
Since the late 14th century the Baltic region enjoyed strong trade links with Scotland, and recent evidence has confirmed that many of the timbers used in the building of Queen Mary’s House in St Andrews were shipped from the Gdańsk region some 600 years ago. Religious tolerance, an escape from poverty and famine, and the promise of adventure and riches prompted many Scots to seek a future in Gdańsk.
Many arrived as traders, and the contribution of these men to both Polish and Scottish culture cannot be underestimated. Robert Gordon made a fortune through the Aberdeen-Danzig trade route, and donated some GBP 10,000 to the foundation of a hospital in his hometown. Four hundred years on the building still stands, now better known as the Robert Gordon University. William Forbes, also known under the colourful sobriquet of Danzig Willie, built the spectacular Craigievar Castle on the back of his trading profits. Sir Robert Skene’s generous investments helped elevate Aberdeen to becoming the largest granite quarry on earth.