Birl and Twirl
It is widely held by many that Scottish Country dancing began in 1923, under the auspices of Miss Milligan, and that Scottish culture really began with the formalisation and registration of tartans in the nineteenth century.
In fact the formalisation of all these key parts of Scottish culture merely standardised what already existed. In the wild days before the formalisation, Scottish culture flourished throughout the world freely, with each local area having it's own interpretations of dance.
Evidence remains to suggest that Scottish garments were once worn throughout the world. Romans are often pictured wearing a variation of the fil-eadh mhor, which they supposed referred to as the "togha". Anticipating the military trend of the 1700's by some 2 millennia, their soldiers wore cut down version of this, keeping the kilt, but with considerably less material on the top.
Challenging the proposition that the kilt was a cut down, phillimore, some of the earliest cultures on earth wore kilts. The Egyptians wore kilts without pleating, or with negligible amounts (it does get hot in the sun), while the Indians were unable to find any cotton material at all, and made kilts out of beads, along with many African tribes. While the Egyptians did not apparently worry about the lack of plaid in their dress, the other cultures made patterns from the beads relating to their household or village.
That Scottish dancing existed around this time was without doubt. The "fearsome roars" often heard from barbarian camps by roman historians were obviously Ceilidh whoops; the Romans themselves were often entertained by ladies step dances done by young girls. The Maori "wardance" is a relative of highland dancing. Dancing by firelight has been a common pursuit of peoples without homes. Greek vases show pictures of Strathspey circles common in that area.
In conclusion, it can be said that Scottish Dancing has been an integral part of human existence since time began, and we are proud to be associated with such a traditional means of entertainment.