Scottish History of Dunedin


Scottish Settling of Dunedin

Did you know the Dunedin area was originally named Jonesboro by George L. Jones, the owner and operator of a local general store?  

In 1885, when two Scottish merchants, John O. Douglas and James Somerville, both from Scotland, came to the area and opened up a general mercantile business, they petitioned the government to open a post office with the name Dunedin. The Gaelic name Dùn Èideann after their hometown of Edinburgh meaning "castle on the rock".

Although not a prevalent part of its early days, Dunedin grasped onto its Scottish founding by naming roads and neighborhoods like Scotland Street, Louden Avenue, Highland Avenue, Locklie Street, Aberdeen Street, Beltrees Street, Brae-Moor, Loch Lomond, Lake Highlander, and Stirling Heights.

Piping in Dunedin

In 1957, when Dunedin was in the process of building its new junior high school, in an homage to their Scottish heritage, they named it Dunedin Highland Junior High (now middle school). Future Dunedin Mayor, Robert Longstreet, with the help of Scottish Lord Thomson, donated two bagpipes to the new school making them the most unique band in Florida. Soon the band’s booster club was able to raise enough money to pay for instruments to create a special pipe and drum band at the school.

Dunedin Junior High School Pipe Band

 A local piper, David Watson was able to get the bagpipes in working order and later, Matt Forsythe, pipe master from Scotland then resident of Dunedin, assisted students in learning the bagpipes, and the Dunedin Junior Highlanders were a hit. To put Scottish culture on full display, Mrs. McLean taught the majorettes authentic Highland Dance to perform alongside the band. Bagpipes and "Scotland the Brave" then spread to the high school, and the City of Dunedin Pipe Band was created as an outlet for young and older adults to keep the art of piping alive. The Dunedin Highland Games and Festival Committee was formed in 1967 to support the pipe bands to travel and perform this piece of Dunedin’s heritage.


Dunedin Coat of Arms & Tartan

On June 15, 1964, and then April 20, 2000, to display their Scottish heritage, the City of Dunedin became a Sister City with Stirling, Scotland, and Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Both cities created this link with Dunedin as Scottish cultural exchanges and to further the City’s commitment to and preservation of its Scottish Heritage.

In 1964, the Dunedin Council of Organizations began to look for a unifying logo, two Dunedin High School students created Dunedin’s current Coat of Arms which takes several objects from Scottish Heritage. Located in the center is a staff reminiscent of marching bands in Scotland. Tartan from the Clan Eliot is used in the Coat of Arms. 

City of Dunedin Tartan and Coat of Arms

Dunedin’s registered tartan was designed in 1986 by Mr. Matthews to be similar to the Edinburgh District Tartan with colors that represent the City.

Today, Dunedin is well known locally and internationally for the events, organizations, businesses, restaurants, breweries, bagpipers and highland dancers that support and embrace Dunedin’s Scottish roots.



Dunedin's Highland Games

The Dunedin Highland Games and Festival began in 1966 and has grown to be Florida's largest and oldest continuous Highland Games. Today the festival has grown to include the Florida Open Dance Championship, the Hiram Walker Florida Pipe Band Championship, and the U.S. National Masters Athletic Competition attracting athletes from all over the United States.

The Dunedin festival feature competitions in piping, dancing, drumming, and in "tests of strength" games, which include caber tossing, weight throwing, hammer throwing, and shot putting. Winners go on to compete at state, regional, national and international games. World championships are held in Scotland. A military tattoo, which includes several pipe bands from the local schools, is also part of the festivities, as well as Scottish storytelling and sheepdog demonstrations.

Learn more from the Dunedin Scottish Arts Foundation

Scottish American Society of Dunedin



The Scottish American Society of Dunedin began as a social club in the late 1970s, to celebrate and carry on Scottish traditions in Dunedin. Their mission is to preserve, teach, and honor the culture, traditions, and history of Scotland through various activities, events, and programs for the community. 

The Scottish American Society of Dunedin is located at 917 Louden Avenue at the Scottish Cultural Center, in the first designated historic landmark in Dunedin, built in 1940 as an annex to the City's Old Red Brick Schoolhouse.

Today, the Scottish American Society organizes cultural seminars and educational programs to teach bagpiping, highland dance, Scottish country dancing, and a genealogy work group. They also put on whisky tastings, Celtic music concerts, and celebrate Scottish holidays.


National Tartan Day

Tartan Day began in Canada with a proposal from the Federation of Scottish Clans in 1991. As a result, they petitioned the United States and they formally recognized it in 1998. 

Tartan Day is celebrated on April 6 to commemorate the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, the document that gave Scotland full sovereignty and gave the citizens more rights and freedoms. This document later became one of the templates used in drafting the American Declaration of Independence.

Learn more about National Tartan Day.