Why Is The Unicorn Scotland’s National Animal?
Scotland is renowned for its love of folklore, which includes tales of giant water monsters, witches, and ghosts. But how did the mythical unicorn come to be represented as our national animal?
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Did unicorns ever exist?
That, of course, depends on who you ask. I’m assuming your five-year-old niece will reply with a resounding “yes.”
However, there was a time in history when the majority of people thought they were real. The appearance of rhinoceros and narwhal horns in unexpected locations helped to spread this myth. Back then, people were better at using their imaginations than conducting scientific research, so this was enough to persuade them that these horned animals roamed the countryside.
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How long have people believed in Unicorns?
Since more than 3,000 years ago, this enchanted animal has amazed people, and its popularity shows no signs of declining. In fact, the Bible and the Quran, two of the oldest and most well-known religious texts in the world, both make mention of the unicorn. For a while, Jesus Christ was even represented by the unicorn.
Why Is The Unicorn Scotland’s National Animal?
What would you choose as Scotland’s national animal, if we asked you? Perhaps one of our iconic wildlife species. You probably wouldn’t picture a magical horned being like the ones that appear frequently on kids’ lunchboxes!
But it’s true: Scotland’s official national animal is the unicorn. And this famous mythical creature has long been a favorite of ours.
Since the classical era, unicorns have been a part of many cultures, including the ancient Babylonians and the Indus civilization. In Celtic mythology, the unicorn is a representation of pristine power, innocence, and a white horse-like body. Due to the strength of their healing abilities, legend also claims that their horns can purify poisoned water.
Anyone who has read about Scottish history will be familiar with how fiercely independent and proud these untamable, proud creatures are. Scots have always been drawn to what unicorns stand for despite the fact that they are a myth.
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What’s the significance of the unicorn in the British coat of arms?
The unicorn and the lion that guard the shield are depicted on the British coat of arms. The national animals of Scotland and England, both of which are a part of the British empire, respectively, are the unicorn and the lion. The unicorn is said to hate the lion more than anything. The unicorn is also unbeatable.
Was Scotland’s selection of one of the few animals capable of defeating England’s national animal a coincidence? We don’t believe so, given the long-standing hostilities between the two nations.
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When was the unicorn adopted in Scotland?
Heraldry, the ancient art of creating and displaying coats of arms or crests to distinguish between groups of people, armies, or institutions, has the answer to that question. We can determine the introduction of the unicorn to the Scottish royal coat of arms in the middle of the fifteenth century using heraldry as our guide.
Two unicorns supported our coat of arms before the Union of the Crowns in 1603. However, as a sign of unity between the two nations, King James VI of Scotland, who later assumed the title James I of England, swapped out one of the unicorns for the lion, England’s national animal. Folklore enthusiasts are aware that lions and unicorns have historically competed with one another for the title of “king of beasts.”
The coat of arms for Mary, Queen of Scots depicts two unicorns holding a sizable shield with a lion rampant on it.
It’s interesting to note that Scottish unicorns are always depicted in heraldry with gold chains encircling them. Why? Although we can’t be sure, it’s thought that this was done to demonstrate the power of Scottish kings, who alone were capable of taming the untamable.
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Where can you find unicorns in Scotland?
People all over the world held this belief for thousands of years. Georges Cuvier, a well-known French naturalist, made an effort to debunk the myth in 1825 by asserting that an animal with a split hoof could never grow a single horn from its head (he also argued against theories of evolution). However, the unicorn’s spirit has endured ever since, and on April 9th, people even observe National Unicorn Day.
So, are there unicorns in Scotland? Naturally, they do! All you need to do is know where to look. The following locations in Scotland are where you can see our nation’s emblematic animal:
There are many unicorns in Edinburgh, and they come in all different sizes and shapes. A good one can be found on a heraldic shield outside the Palace of Holyroodhouse, another one can be found in the Royal Apartments at Edinburgh Castle, and several more can be found among the Victorian woodcarvings at St. Giles’ Cathedral, which is nearby Gladstone’s Land.
Look for a unicorn perched atop the tower wherever you see a mercat cross—a Scottish market cross that served as a historical representation of commerce and prosperity in many of our towns and cities. There are numerous examples throughout the nation, in towns and cities like Edinburgh, Culross, Prestonpans, Dunfermline, and Falkland, ranging from the simple to the elaborate.
Further north, Stirling Castle, home of the ‘Hunt of the Unicorn’ tapestries, and Dundee, where HMS Unicorn, one of the world’s oldest warships, proudly displays a unicorn as its figurehead, have interesting examples of Scottish unicorns.
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The HMS Unicorn is what?
In the Port of Dundee, there is a ship called the HMS Unicorn. One of the six oldest ships still in existence in the world, it was launched in 1824. What is so magical about this ship? Of course, it has a magnificent unicorn figurehead on its prow! It serves as a representation of the Scottish navy, and over time, numerous Scottish naval ships have carried the same name.
When’s National Unicorn Day?
Yes, there is such a thing as National Unicorn Day, which is observed on April 9 in a variety of ways.
Scotland has a reputation for adopting a more reverent approach, whereas many people are content to simply don their favorite sparkly horned headband. For Crawick Multiverse in Dumfries and Galloway, an artist named Woody Fox created a seven-foot-tall willow sculpture of a unicorn in honor of Unicorn Day in 2017.
But don’t worry, the day still has a whimsical quality to it. The staff at Stirling Castle even located a unicorn for the kids to pet in 2019.
Topic: Why Is The Unicorn Scotland’s National Animal?
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By: Travel Pixy
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