Scotland and Russia Links

23 August 2016
0_4707b_6549aa91_spasskaya-30904.jpg Spasskaya Tower
Emily Warner explores the historical links between Scotland and Russia over the centuries.

There have been many links between Scotland and Russia over the centuries, which vary from Scottish doctors to soldiers living in Russia. Many Scotsmen made a name for themselves working for important figures such as the Tsar from the period 1704 onwards. This included thirteen Scottish doctors who were personal physicians to the Tsar.

Scottish soldiers played a part during the rule of Ivan the Terrible and steady development between the 1650s and 1700s. This encouraging step for the Scots led to the promotion of two field marshals, James Bruce (1669-1735) - a Russian of Scottish descent, and Scottish-born George Ogilvie. 

The progression of Scots in the army did not stop there. It also inspired the determination of Scottish sailors in the Russian navy for promotions. This in turn led to the advancement of Scottish sailors to admirals such as Samuel Greig of Inverkeithing (1736-1788) who earned the title 'father of the Russian Navy' for his naval improvement programme in Russia.


Many Scots became acclaimed in their field of expertise, such as Edinburgh-born William Carrick (1827-1878) (pictured) who made his name in photography for his portrayals of different aspects of Russian life.

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Yet the connection between Scotland and Russia goes deeper, and extends to the unity between the Scottish and the Russian population by taking on board each other's culture in their own way. The Scottish and Russian culture is not as different as one may think. For example, they both share the same patron saint, which is Saint Andrew. These two cultures reflected on one another and instigated the transference of cultural flare, for example one of the churches in Leith, which was Scotland’s busiest ports at the time, had its ceiling decorated in a Russian style. This evangelism also led to the renaming of an avenue in one of the ports of Russia to Scotland Avenue.

Scottish architects helped in the evolution of Russian buildings and stamped their mark on Russia in the process. These architectural contributions made by the Scots has created renowned structures and made Russia what it is today. For instance, it was Christopher Galloway (date of birth unknown) who took part in the proceedings of the development of the most famous Kremlin tower, the Spasskaya Tower (pictured) in 1624, which overlooks Red Square.

Factors other than architecture that were responsible for the shaping of Russia were Scottish entrepreneurs. The introduction to the concept of department stores, such as “Muir and Mirrielees”, was established in 1885 by the merchants Andrew Muir and Archibald Merrilees. The store encouraged the purchase of consumer goods across the whole of the Russian empire. This store acquainted itself in various kinds of wares, which included products ranging from children’s toys to furniture.

This enterprise was very successful for the two Scots who nurtured the company from the beginning and is still there today, but it is now called TsUM.