The people of Scotland are preparing to go to the polls to decide their country's future - again.

The journey to determine the status of the nation has been a turbulent one. Here is the story so far.

1707, May 1: The treaty of union is signed.  This agreement led to the creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain through the political union of the Kingdom of England (including Wales) and the Kingdom of Scotland.

1885, August 17: The Scottish Office opens as a department of the UK Government. His Grace the Duke of Richmond, the Conservative MP for Sussex West, becomes Secretary of State for Scotland.

1934 April 20: The first public meeting of the Scottish National Party (formed after a merger of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party) is held at Central Hall, Tollcross, Edinburgh.

1942: Douglas Young, the leader of the Scottish National Party, is imprisoned in Saughton Prison, Edinburgh, as a conscientious objector. Mr Young believed that Scots should not be forced to fight for the British Military outside of the British Isles.

1945, April 12: Dr Robert McIntyre wins the Scottish National Party's first parliamentary seat at the Motherwell by-election - only to lose it at the general election a few months later. Though short-lived, his success indicated growing awareness and support for the party's independence campaign.

1949 October: The Scottish Covenant, a document calling on the United Kingdom Government to establish a home rule Scottish Parliament, is written during the third national assembly of the Scottish Convention. A petition in support of the covenant had gained 2 million signatures by 1950.

1950, December 25: The Stone of Scone, known as the Stone of Destiny, is taken from Westminster Abbey by a group of Scottish students who smuggle it north of the border. The artefact was used in the coronation of monarchs in Scotland and later in the United Kingdom, and was taken to England by Edward I in 1296. It has become a symbol of the Scottish struggle for independence and was the subject of a film, released in 2008

1951, April 11: The stone, which had been broken and repaired, is found on the altar of Arbroath Abbey.

1967, November 6: Winnie Ewing, a Scottish National Party candidate wins the Hamilton by-election, making the victory call: "'stop the world, Scotland wants to get on". A solicitor at the time of her election, she became a key figure in the campaign for Scottish independence.

1976, November: James Callaghan's Labour Government introduces the combined Scotland and Wales bill, which eventually includes the concession of referendums in both Scotland and Wales.

1979, March 1: A referendum is held asking the electorate to vote yes or no on the question: "Do you want the provisions of the Scotland Act 1978 to be put into effect?"

Although there was cross-party support for plans, and 51.6 per cent of those who turned out voted yes, in favour of creating a devolved assembly for Scotland, the Act had included the obstacle of the '40 per cent rule' which required 40 per cent of the electorate to support the plan. With a turnout of 63.8 per cent, the result fell short of this condition.

1987, June 11: Alex Salmond, a 33-year-old economist from Linlithgow, becomes MP for Banff and Buchan.

1997, September 11: Following the election of Tony Blair's New Labour, the UK Government fulfils its manifesto commitment and a referendum is held on whether to create a Scottish Parliament with devolved powers, and whether that Parliament should have tax-varying powers. The electorate voted yes, with a substantial majority, to both questions.

1999, May 7: Donald Dewar enters office as First Minister, the day after the first general election of the Scottish parliament. The election had been conducted using a system of mixed member proportional representation that made it unlikely that any party could win a majority of seats (though the SNP went on to in 2011).

Dewar's Labour Party formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. On his election, he repeated a phrase used by his friend John Smith, and claimed that the new parliament represented: "the settled will of the Scottish people." 

1999, May 12: The first meeting of the new Parliament.

2000, October 11: Donald Dewar dies at the age of 67 as the result of a brain haemorrhage after a fall. October 27: Henry McLeish becomes First Minister.

2001, November 22: Jack McConnell becomes First Minister following the resignation of Henry McLeish 

2004, October: The Queen opens the new Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood in Edinburgh. Designed by Enric Micalles, the building cost over £400m - a huge leap from early projections.

2011, May: The Scottish National Party wins an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament with 69 seats.

Alex Salmond's party had campaigned on a platform of securing a referendum on Scotland's independence from the rest of the United Kingdom.

2012, May: Pro-independence campaign group Yes Scotland launches at celebrity-endorsed event in Edinburgh. It brings SNP, Greens, socialists and other groups under one umbrella.

2012, June: Pro-Union campaign group Better Together is launched by former chancellor Alistair Darling. Campaign brings together Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

2012, October: First Minister Alex Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron sign the Edinburgh Agreement, granting MSPs power to hold a referendum.