How Can I Explore Philadelphia’s Scottish Heritage?

Are you curious about Philadelphia’s Scottish heritage? Look no further! This article is here to guide you on an exciting journey through the city’s rich Scottish history. Discover the Scottish influences that have shaped Philadelphia’s culture, from the iconic bagpipes playing at the Annual Scottish Festival to the historic landmarks that pay homage to prominent Scottish figures. So grab your tartan and embark on an adventure to uncover the hidden gems of Philadelphia’s Scottish heritage.

How Can I Explore Philadelphias Scottish Heritage?

Visit Historic Sites

Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church

One of the must-visit historic sites in Philadelphia to explore the Scottish heritage is the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church. This charming church holds a significant place in Philadelphia’s history as it was founded by Swedish Lutheran settlers in 1677. Over time, the congregation became more diverse, with Scottish and Scottish-American families joining. Today, the church stands as a symbol of the city’s rich multicultural heritage and offers a glimpse into the Scottish influence in early Philadelphia.

Historic RittenhouseTown

Located in Northwest Philadelphia, Historic RittenhouseTown is another fascinating destination to explore Philadelphia’s Scottish heritage. This historic site was once a paper mill complex owned by the Rittenhouse family, prominent Scottish-American citizens. The Rittenhouse family played a significant role in Philadelphia’s development, particularly in the field of science and clockmaking. You can visit the colonial buildings and learn about their contributions while immersing yourself in the Scottish heritage that shaped this iconic site.

Fort Mifflin

For history enthusiasts interested in Philadelphia’s role in the American Revolutionary War, Fort Mifflin is a must-visit destination. This historic fort, located on Mud Island along the Delaware River, played a crucial role in defending Philadelphia during the war. The fort’s construction was overseen by Scottish engineer John Montresor, showcasing the Scottish influence in the city’s military architecture. Explore the fort’s well-preserved structures and immerse yourself in the stories of Scottish soldiers who fought for American independence.

Laurel Hill Cemetery

While exploring Philadelphia’s Scottish heritage, a visit to Laurel Hill Cemetery is a unique and enlightening experience. This historic cemetery, established in 1836, is the final resting place of many influential figures, including Scottish-Americans who played a significant role in shaping Philadelphia’s history. Walk through the beautiful grounds and discover the graves of Scottish immigrants who made remarkable contributions to the city in various fields, from business and politics to arts and culture.

Attend Festivals and Events

Philadelphia Scottish Festival

Immerse yourself in Scottish culture by attending the Philadelphia Scottish Festival. This annual event brings the vibrant traditions of Scotland to Philadelphia, offering a day filled with music, dance, food, and entertainment for all ages. From bagpipe performances to Highland games, you’ll get a taste of Scotland’s rich cultural heritage. Don’t miss the opportunity to try traditional Scottish dishes and browse through stalls offering Scottish crafts and merchandise.

Philadelphia Ceili Group Celtic Heritage Festival

If you enjoy Celtic music and dance, the Philadelphia Ceili Group Celtic Heritage Festival is a must-attend event. This festival celebrates not only Scottish heritage but also the broader Celtic culture. Delight in lively performances by Scottish bagpipe bands, Celtic folk musicians, and traditional Irish and Scottish dancers. Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere and join in the fun with interactive workshops and demonstrations of Celtic arts and crafts.

Philadelphia Tartan Day

Tartan Day is an annual celebration of Scottish heritage that takes place in Philadelphia, honoring the contributions of Scottish-Americans to the city’s cultural fabric. Join the festivities and witness the colorful Tartan Parade, where clans proudly display their tartan kilts and bagpipes echo through the streets. Explore food stalls serving Scottish delicacies, browse through Scottish merchandise, and enjoy live music performances that pay homage to Scotland’s rich musical traditions.

Philadelphia Highland Games

For a truly immersive Scottish experience, don’t miss the Philadelphia Highland Games. This annual event showcases the best of Scottish culture through traditional sporting events, music, dance, and food. Watch as athletes compete in the caber toss, hammer throw, and other challenging Highland games. Immerse yourself in Scottish music with live performances by bagpipe bands and enjoy Scottish cuisine, including haggis and Scotch eggs.

How Can I Explore Philadelphias Scottish Heritage?

Explore Scottish Pubs and Restaurants

McGillin’s Olde Ale House

At the heart of the city, McGillin’s Olde Ale House stands as Philadelphia’s oldest continuously operating tavern. While not strictly a Scottish establishment, it has embraced the city’s Scottish roots since its founding in 1860. The pub’s warm and welcoming atmosphere, paired with a wide selection of beers, makes it a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike. Enjoy a pint of ale and savor classic pub fare while soaking in the historic ambiance that harkens back to Philadelphia’s Scottish heritage.

The Dandelion

Located in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, The Dandelion channels the spirit of a traditional British pub with a nod to Scottish influence. The restaurant’s Scottish-inspired menu features dishes like Scotch eggs, haggis, and Cullen Skink, providing an authentic taste of Scottish cuisine. With its cozy interior adorned with vintage d├ęcor, The Dandelion offers an inviting atmosphere to enjoy a hearty meal and immerse yourself in the ambiance of Scottish culture.

Fado Irish Pub

While Fado Irish Pub may be known for celebrating Irish traditions, it also pays homage to Scotland’s cultural contributions. With its lively atmosphere, extensive drink menu, and hearty pub fare, Fado offers a taste of Scottish hospitality right in the heart of Philadelphia. Raise a glass to Scottish heritage while enjoying live music performances, including traditional Celtic tunes, and indulge in dishes like bangers and mash or fish and chips.

The Plough and the Stars

Nestled in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood, The Plough and the Stars is an authentic Irish pub that recognizes the shared Celtic traditions between Ireland and Scotland. This cozy establishment boasts a selection of Scottish whiskies and a menu featuring Scottish classics like haggis and cranachan. With live music performances and a warm ambiance, The Plough and the Stars captures the spirit of Scottish hospitality while celebrating the wider Celtic heritage.

Visit Scottish Cultural Organizations and Museums

American Scottish Foundation

For a deeper understanding of Scottish culture and history, a visit to the American Scottish Foundation is highly recommended. This organization, located in Philadelphia, promotes the appreciation and understanding of Scotland’s contributions to American society. Explore their exhibits and collections that showcase the Scottish influence in various fields, from arts and literature to science and politics. Engage in educational programs and learn about the ongoing cultural exchange between Scotland and the United States.

American Swedish Historical Museum

While exploring Philadelphia’s Scottish heritage, take the opportunity to visit the American Swedish Historical Museum. Although primarily dedicated to Swedish heritage, the museum also highlights the influence of Scottish immigrants in Swedish-American communities. Learn about the shared cultural connections between Scotland and Sweden and how these influences shaped Philadelphia’s multicultural landscape. With its vast collection of artifacts and engaging exhibits, the museum provides an insightful glimpse into the intertwined history of Scotland and Sweden in Philadelphia.

Mutter Museum

For those intrigued by medical history, a visit to the Mutter Museum is a must. While not specifically focused on Scottish heritage, the museum houses a remarkable collection of medical specimens and artifacts related to Philadelphia’s historical medical community. Many prominent figures in this field had Scottish ancestry, and their contributions to medicine are showcased within the museum’s exhibits. Explore the museum’s fascinating displays and gain a deeper appreciation for the diverse influences that shaped Philadelphia’s medical heritage.

Penn Museum

The Penn Museum, located on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus, is a treasure trove of world cultures and history. While not Scottish-specific, the museum’s vast collections include Scottish artifacts, providing insight into the cultural contributions of Scottish immigrants in Philadelphia. Explore their galleries dedicated to North American and European cultures and discover objects that showcase Scotland’s rich history. From Celtic jewelry to historical documents, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the lasting impact of Scottish heritage.

How Can I Explore Philadelphias Scottish Heritage?

Discover Scottish Influence in Architecture

City Hall

Philadelphia’s iconic City Hall stands as one of the city’s most remarkable architectural landmarks. Designed by Scottish-born architect John McArthur Jr., this magnificent building showcases a blend of architectural styles, including Scottish Baronial influences. Admire the grandeur of the building’s design and intricate details, reflecting the Scottish architectural traditions that influenced its construction. The statue of William Penn atop City Hall pays tribute to the city’s founder, whose Scottish heritage shaped the history of Philadelphia.

St. Andrew’s Collegiate Chapel

Located on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus, St. Andrew’s Collegiate Chapel is a beautiful architectural gem that honors Philadelphia’s Scottish heritage. Founded in 1867 by the St. Andrew’s Society, the chapel was built in the Scottish Gothic style, reminiscent of medieval Scottish cathedrals. Step inside this serene place of worship and marvel at its vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, and elegant Scottish craftsmanship, which combine to create a truly enchanting atmosphere.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, situated in West Philadelphia, is a testament to the Scottish architectural influence in the city. Designed by Scottish-American architect John Notman, this historic church showcases the Victorian Gothic style, which was popularized by Scottish architects in the 19th century. Admire the church’s unique features, such as pointed arches, decorative tracery, and intricate stonework, as you immerse yourself in the rich Scottish heritage that shaped its construction.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary, a formidable Gothic-style prison, encapsulates another facet of Scottish architectural influence in Philadelphia. Designed by Scottish-born architect John Haviland, this historic penitentiary served as the model for prison design around the world. Marvel at the imposing facade and explore the cellblocks, which reflect the Scottish Baronial architectural style. As you wander through its halls, contemplate the Scottish ingenuity that left an indelible mark on the world of penitentiary design.

Explore Scottish Genealogy and Family History

Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania

For those interested in tracing their Scottish roots in Philadelphia, the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania offers valuable resources. This organization is dedicated to assisting individuals in researching their family history and genealogy. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced genealogist, the society’s extensive collection of records and expert guidance can help you uncover your Scottish heritage and connect with your ancestors who contributed to Philadelphia’s cultural tapestry.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is an excellent resource for delving into Philadelphia’s Scottish genealogy and family history. With its vast collection of documents, manuscripts, and records, the society offers a wealth of information for those exploring their Scottish roots. Discover the stories of Scottish immigrants who arrived in Philadelphia and learn how their experiences shaped the city’s diverse heritage. Engage with the society’s knowledgeable staff and fellow genealogists to embark on an enriching journey of discovery.

Free Library of Philadelphia

The Free Library of Philadelphia is not only a haven for book lovers but also a valuable resource for individuals seeking to explore their Scottish heritage. Discover a vast collection of genealogy resources, including historical newspapers, directories, and local histories that can aid in tracing your Scottish ancestry. With the library’s extensive archives and helpful staff, you’ll have the tools you need to piece together your family history and uncover the Scottish threads within Philadelphia’s cultural fabric.

How Can I Explore Philadelphias Scottish Heritage?

Join Scottish Interest Groups and Societies

St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia

Become a part of the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia and immerse yourself in a community dedicated to preserving and celebrating Scottish heritage. This society, founded in 1747, fosters connections among those with Scottish ancestry and promotes cultural awareness through various events and activities. Engage in educational programs, attend social gatherings, and participate in philanthropic endeavors that honor the contributions of Scottish-Americans to Philadelphia’s cultural landscape.

Scots’ Charitable Society

The Scots’ Charitable Society is the oldest Scottish charitable organization in the United States, founded in 1657. This society has a rich history of supporting Scottish immigrants in need and celebrating Scottish culture. Join the society and contribute to their noble mission while embracing your Scottish heritage. Attend their cultural events and charitable fundraisers, and connect with other individuals who share a passion for Scotland’s influence and legacy in Philadelphia.

Clan Comyn Society

For those seeking to delve deeper into their Scottish ancestry and join a clan society, the Clan Comyn Society offers a welcoming community. This society focuses on the history, traditions, and genealogy of the Comyn family, one of Scotland’s ancient clans. Engage in discussions, attend clan gatherings, and explore your family’s connection to Scottish heritage while connecting with fellow members who share a common historical bond.

Daughters of Scotia

The Daughters of Scotia is an organization dedicated to preserving Scottish heritage through various charitable activities and cultural events. Join this sisterhood and immerse yourself in Scottish traditions while giving back to the community. Participate in their philanthropic initiatives, attend social gatherings, and celebrate Scottish culture through music, dance, and other artistic expressions. Connect with other women who share a passion for Scotland’s heritage and its enduring impact in Philadelphia.

Experience Scottish Music and Dance

Philadelphia Scots Pipe Band

Immerse yourself in the enchanting sounds of bagpipes by attending performances of the Philadelphia Scots Pipe Band. This celebrated band upholds the tradition of Scottish bagpipe music and frequently performs at events and festivals throughout the city. Experience the stirring melodies and exhilarating rhythms that have become synonymous with Scottish culture, and appreciate firsthand the significance of bagpipe music in Philadelphia’s Scottish heritage.

Cumann Ceilteach Philadelphia

For those who wish to experience the lively spirit of Scottish and Celtic music, Cumann Ceilteach Philadelphia offers a welcoming environment. This organization aims to promote and share traditional Celtic music, dance, and language with the Philadelphia community. Attend their events, such as ceilidhs (traditional Scottish social gatherings), and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Celtic music, where fiddles, pipes, and drums create an irresistible rhythm that invites everyone to join in the revelry.

Ceol Neamh

Ceol Neamh is a Philadelphia-based Scottish and Irish music ensemble committed to preserving and promoting the traditional music of Scotland and Ireland. Delight in their performances, which encompass a wide range of traditional instruments, including fiddles, flutes, harps, and bodhrans (Irish frame drums). Immerse yourself in the captivating harmonies and foot-tapping rhythms that characterize Scottish and Irish music, and gain a deeper appreciation for the enduring cultural influence embedded in Philadelphia’s heritage.

Scottish Country Dancing

Discover the joy of Scottish country dancing, a traditional dance form that continues to bring people together to celebrate Scottish culture. Participate in classes and events organized by Scottish country dance groups in Philadelphia, such as the Philadelphia Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. This vibrant dance form emphasizes teamwork, precision, and elegant movements, enabling participants to connect with others while immersing themselves in the rhythmic traditions of Scotland.

How Can I Explore Philadelphias Scottish Heritage?

Visit Scottish-themed Shops and Boutiques

Tartan & Clan

Step into Tartan & Clan, a Scottish-themed shop located in Philadelphia, and discover a treasure trove of Scottish merchandise. From tartan kilts and scarves to clan crests and traditional crafts, this boutique offers an array of products that celebrate Scottish heritage. Browse through the carefully curated selection and find the perfect way to embrace your Scottish ancestry or take home a unique piece of Scotland to commemorate your exploration of Philadelphia’s Scottish roots.

Pipers Glen

Pipers Glen is a specialty shop dedicated to bagpipes, kilts, and other Scottish musical instruments and accessories. Located in the heart of Philadelphia, this shop caters to musicians, enthusiasts, and anyone interested in Scottish traditions. Whether you’re searching for bagpipes, tartan accessories, or instructional materials to learn the Highland bagpipes, Pipers Glen is the place to go. Explore their offerings, connect with the friendly staff, and dive into the world of Scottish music and culture.

Bonnie’s Capes & Capers

Bonnie’s Capes & Capers is a charming boutique that specializes in Celtic-themed clothing and accessories. Step inside and discover a delightful collection of Celtic-inspired capes, kilts, jewelry, and more. Whether you’re looking to embrace your Scottish heritage or simply appreciate the beauty of Celtic designs, Bonnie’s Capes & Capers offers a unique shopping experience that celebrates the enduring influence of Scotland on Philadelphia’s cultural fabric.

Judith L. Ripka Celtic Jewelry

For those seeking a timeless piece of jewelry inspired by Scottish traditions, Judith L. Ripka Celtic Jewelry offers a stunning selection. This renowned jewelry designer incorporates Celtic motifs and symbols, such as the Celtic knot, into her exquisite creations. Adorn yourself with intricate pieces that pay tribute to Scotland’s cultural heritage and serve as a lasting reminder of your exploration of Philadelphia’s Scottish influence.

Enjoy Traditional Scottish Cuisine


No exploration of Scottish cuisine is complete without savoring the infamous haggis. This traditional Scottish dish consists of sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, mixed with onions, spices, and oatmeal, encased in a sheep’s stomach. While haggis may not be to everyone’s taste, it is considered a delicacy in Scottish culture and provides a unique opportunity to experience authentic Scottish cuisine.

Scotch Eggs

Scotch eggs are a beloved Scottish snack and a culinary delight that you must try while exploring Philadelphia’s Scottish heritage. These delectable treats consist of hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried until golden brown. The combination of savory sausage and creamy egg yolk provides a satisfying bite that perfectly captures the essence of Scottish comfort food.

Cullen Skink

Cullen Skink is a hearty Scottish soup that is sure to warm your soul on a chilly day. Originating from the coastal town of Cullen in Scotland, this soup contains smoked haddock, potatoes, onions, and cream. The delicate smokiness of the haddock complements the creamy broth, creating a rich and flavorful dish that showcases Scotland’s culinary prowess.


End your Scottish culinary journey on a sweet note with Cranachan, a traditional Scottish dessert. This indulgent treat is made with a mixture of whipped cream, raspberries, toasted oats, honey, and a splash of whisky. The combination of creamy sweetness, tart berries, and a hint of whisky creates a delightful harmony of flavors that epitomizes the essence of Scottish dessert cuisine.

As you embark on your journey to explore Philadelphia’s Scottish heritage, these various destinations, events, and experiences will provide a comprehensive understanding of the enduring influence of Scotland in this vibrant city. Embrace Scottish culture through visits to historic sites, attendance at festivals and events, exploration of Scottish-themed venues, and engagement with organizations dedicated to preserving Scottish heritage. From immersing yourself in music and dance to indulging in traditional Scottish cuisine, each experience will bring you closer to the rich tapestry of Philadelphia’s Scottish legacy. Remember to cherish the warm and welcoming atmosphere, and enjoy all the cultural treasures that await you along the way.