Believe it or not, the unicorn is actually Scotland’s national animal. This magical creature has a long history in literature and myth. We learn about them in early Scottish poems and stories, such as “The Book of Kells.” Unicorns do appear in modern Scotland too, as part of the Highland show, but they are often portrayed as ugly, horned animals. They don’t enjoy much popularity in Scotland nowadays.
But it’s true: the Scottish unicorn is indeed the national animal of Scotland. Unicorns were prominent figures in early Celtic folklore and stories, and their appearance in artwork forms part of the popular Celtic tradition. Their presence in the British Isles and in Scottish tribal artwork gives some historians a clue that there may be more than one story about how the unicorn became part of Scottish tradition. The unicorn appears as a symbol of purity in early Scottish artwork, especially when compared with other animals depicted in the same art forms. The Scottish crown, which uses a unicorn horn as its chief crowning symbol, is another reminder of the unicorn’s importance to the Scottish heritage.
One of the most famous stories from Scotland, “The Legend of the Unicorn,” written by William Wordsworth describes a white horse, similar to the Scottish national animal, as being able to overcome all difficulties. According to this legend, the unicorn was riding a black horse, which was corrupted by a curse. The story describes how the black horse, sensing a massive storm approaching, decided to withdraw and wait for the storm to pass, leaving the lone white horse to face the danger alone. When the giant storm arrives, the giant horse decides to attack the lone horse, only to be distracted by an appearance of the animal itself, causing him to run away and give the reins to the animal representing Scotland.
The national animal of Scotland, the unicorn, can be seen in numerous locations throughout Scotland, from its own coat of arms to its royal crest. The animal has even found its way into the hearts and minds of some famous Scottish writers, who have used it as inspiration for their own writings. Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet, had a love of all things Scottish and often talked about the importance of the unicorn. He referred to it as a “stone of friendship” and even referred to it as “the preserver of our race”. John Paul Jones, also of Scottish descent, went so far as to state that the unicorn was the most beautiful and wonderful creature in all of Scotland.
In modern times, the unicorn is still a popular symbol of Scottish culture, and you can find many plaques and wall murals in Scottish castles and homes displaying the animal alongside other symbols of Scottish heritage. Some people believe that the animal represents purity. Others believe that it represents honesty and loyalty, as well as love and friendship. No matter what your beliefs are, you will no doubt find some sort of symbolism related to the unicorn in your travels throughout Scotland. Whether it’s a unicorn horn blowing in your direction, or a paw print leading you down the trail of history, you are sure to find something unique to admire and consider as part of your Scotland holiday.