Wherever you are in Scotland, you can see the unicorn, the symbol of purity, wisdom and power.

In a corner of Edinburgh capital, the Holyroodhouse palace appears with “witch hat” towers and fortresses. Outside, Kenny Hanley, a 74-year-old tour guide, kept her eyes on a symbol on the south gate of the building.

It is a unicorn (unicorn) in legend, and is also a symbol of Scotland. Hanley said, in the minds of the people, the animal symbolizes the nation of purity, wisdom and power.

Facing the unicorn tied by a leash was a stone lion with a fierce appearance, a crown and a ceremonial flag standing guard. 

 

Today, the unicorn has great meaning in the life of the Scottish people. Not only does it appear gorgeous in children’s rooms or on colorful cereal boxes, but it is also brought into movies, cartoons, fashion and social networks.  JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novel  is also inspired by many real locations in Edinburgh, which show details of unicorn blood and feathers. 

A bridge between fantasy and reality, this animal is printed and engraved on badges, gold coins, royal seals, tapestries, robes and even memorials. Among the architecture in Edinburgh such as the Holyroodhouse palace, Edinburgh castle, Craigmillar castle and St Giles church, unicorns are very popular. To the west of the capital, to Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Queen Mary, you can see the unicorns appearing at the well-preserved fountain and ceiling.

At Stirling Castle, the mythical creature is placed at the center of the detailed carpets. The seven carpets here are hand-woven, imitating  Unicorn Tapestries , one of the most valuable artwork in the late Middle Ages (the prototype is on display at the Met Cloisters Museum, New York, USA).

Scotland has chosen April 9 every year as the National Day of the Horned Horse.

 

From Aberdeenshire’s Delgatie Castle to HMS Unicorn, Dundee’s ancient warship, or on the Prestonpans and Glasgow crosses there are countless ungulate unicorns, wearing royal imprints.

The historical story of the one-horse unicorn dates back more than 3,000 years. Ancient Greeks believed in the existence of this horse-like creature. It was first recorded in an ancient book by the historian Ctesias in the 4th century BC. He described it as a wild donkey with a horn growing from the middle of his head.

The belief of unicorns was spread widely when it appeared in the Old City like mythical horses. Real creatures like rhinos, horn antelopes and unicorns have been brought up to explain the legend. One theory of the unicorn’s disappearance is that the creature was not able to board Noah’s Ark (the ship that saved Noah, his family and the animals before the flood, according to the Bible).

Following King James II, King James III, James IV, and his nephew James V, unicorn prints on coins, royal seals, and armor. Before 1603, the Scottish royal coat of arms always had the appearance of two unicorns. 

According to the Scottish National Museum, the legend tells of a king, the only one who can hold back a single horse and counteract its power. This story was enjoyed by King James II. Later, unicorns became a symbol of purity and power recognized by Scottish kings and nobility in the 15th century.

Although the unicorn is associated with Scotland’s long history, the meaning of this legendary creature is still misunderstood. Liam Devlin, who has been with the symbol for many years, said he realized the true meaning of unicorns was gradually disappearing. Politicians around the world see unicorns as a symbol of illusion and instability. Some Scottish nationalists argue that the creature that symbolizes this indomitable spirit originated in England. “This argument is absurd, the unicorn image appeared before the founding of the United Kingdom in 1707,” Devlin said.

John Donaldson, 72-year-old sculptor, who brought unicorns back to national discussions through art, by adding this symbol to the country’s architectural heritage and emblem. He worked with the agency responsible for promoting the historic environment of Scotland, to renovate Stirling Castle for 7 years, recreate Stirling Heads – oak medal from the 16th century, engraved images of kings , queen and noble. On the emblem in the ceiling and in the bed of King James V, the unicorn image is centered.

According to Donaldson, unicorns stick with Scottish heritage over the years. Tourists visit Scotland to explore history, through unicorn imagery and ancient castles. It is the nation’s unique attraction and this legendary creature is an integral part of the architecture. “Unicorns speak for the people of Scotland,” Donaldson said.

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