But for decades, Scotland has also been home to another mystery yet to be resolved: UFOs.
The country that occupies the northernmost section of Great Britain has its share of UFO reports, including an unusual pear-shaped object reported recently by a motorist on the UK UFO Sightings website.
On the night of Jan. 2, in the East Kilbride area of Scotland, George King wrote: "I was sitting in my car, facing west, when I noticed two orange lights -- one smaller than the other -- flying low.
"I thought it was a police helicopter, but it kept coming, no noise, and suddenly shot up skywards right in front of me."
King added that he jumped out of his car to phone his son, when he noticed something else: "Saw a large, pear-shaped bubble-type thing heading towards Hamilton/Strathaven."
It wasn't the first time a UFO had been spotted in this part of Scotland, says UFO investigator Ron Halliday.
"It's an absolute puzzle why there've been so many UFO sightings here. You know, if we're talking about extraterrestrials visiting from other planets, I can't think of any reason whatsoever why they would choose to fly over this particular area," he told AOL News.
"This is the first pear-shaped object I've heard about."
Over the years, Scotland has had its share of reports, photos and videos of strange lights in the night sky, daytime metallic objects and even stories of alleged UFO abductions.
One of Scotland's most famous close encounters took place in 1992. Referred to locally as the A70 Abduction, the incident is the inspiration for a movie that is currently in production. Two men, traveling on the A70 roadway en route to the Scottish village of Tarbrax, spotted a large disc-shaped UFO hovering over the road ahead of them.
As they tried to pass under the unknown object, they reported their car was bathed in light and the next memory they had of the event was of being in total darkness. More importantly, they discovered that what should have been a 30-minute trip had taken nearly three hours.
Subsequent hypnosis sessions revealed a story of the men being abducted out of their car by small gray-colored beings, taken somewhere to be examined and then released.
After 30 years of examining UFO encounters including the A70 Abduction, Halliday, a former assistant registrar at the University of Stirling, says the descriptions of the mysterious objects in Scotland echo reports from other parts of the world.
"There's been all kinds. People have seen traditional disc-shaped things, some with glass-like domes on them. They've also reported long, rectangular objects and pyramid shapes, or diamond-shaped and triangular things," Halliday said.
"I think it's difficult to actually pin down one particular shape as a typical UFO seen across Scotland."
Halliday, 61, is the author of numerous books on paranormal subjects and UFOs, including "UFO Scotland: Beyond the Falkirk Triangle" (Black and White Publishing). He says that UFOs have been reported in Scotland for many decades, including an area known as Bonnybridge, a reported hotbed of UFO activity, but he doesn't believe everything he hears about UFOs.
"I describe myself as somebody who's open-minded," he said. "People have shown me some fantastic video footage and it turns out they videoed something like Venus or a plane in the sky.
"You've got to be skeptical, but also open-minded because I've had people describe encounters they've had with something they've seen close up. If you're not skeptical, it just downgrades the whole thing. If you accept every report as a genuine UFO, that's not the right way, in my view, to go about it."
With so many intriguing UFO encounters occurring in Scotland, Halliday has created his own top ten list of the best ones.
Of all the UFO stories emanating from Scotland, Halliday's choice for the weirdest was a 1979 case involving forestry worker Bob Taylor, who reported encountering a circular object in a wooded area near Livingston.
"He was the most straightforward kind of reasonable witness that you could ever come across. Even people who were skeptical about what happened to him believe that he was telling the truth of what he saw," said Halliday.
"He came to this clearing where he saw an object hovering, and as he was standing there, these two spiky balls dropped out of the craft, kind of rolled toward him, grabbed him by the legs, and the next minute, he passed out.
"When he came to, he staggered home. A police investigation of the incident didn't find any evidence that Taylor had been attacked, so from their point of view, it remained unsolved."
As with most countries where UFOs are reported, there's a division in Scotland between people who are skeptics and those who believe anything they hear about UFOs.
But Halliday thinks most people are at least interested and willing to look at the evidence, no matter where it leads.
"Generally speaking, there's an open mind on this subject, but I certainly don't think Scotland is a nation of believers," he said.
"There's a lot of people interested in this subject and it raises so many questions about the nature of the world and the nature of the universe."
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