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Once upon a time, in the mystical land of Scotland, there lived a creature unlike any other. It was a creature of legends and fairytales, a symbol of purity, power, and unyielding strength – the unicorn. But what made this story truly magical was that, in a world filled with lions, eagles, and dragons as national symbols, Scotland had chosen the unicorn as its very own national animal. A more unique and whimsical choice could hardly be imagined.
In ancient Celtic mythology, the unicorn represented all that was noble and untamed. It was seen as a creature of incredible power, a beast that could only be humbled by a maiden pure of heart. These ideals of dominance and chivalry associated with the unicorn might well be the reason Scotland chose it to symbolize the nation, for like this proud beast, Scots would fight to remain unconquered.
The tale of the Scottish unicorn began many centuries ago, in the time of King William I in the 12th century. It was he who first placed the unicorn upon the royal coat of arms, signifying the nation's ideals of purity, innocence, masculinity, and power. The unicorn quickly became a cherished symbol of Scotland.
As the centuries passed, the unicorn's presence in Scotland only grew. In the 15th century, during the reign of King James III, gold coins were minted, bearing the image of the majestic unicorn. These coins, gleaming with the unicorn's grace, were a testament to the nation's admiration for this mythical creature.
However, the greatest enchantment occurred when Scotland and England united under King James VI of Scotland in 1603. The Scottish Royal Arms, once adorned with a single unicorn, now proudly displayed two unicorns, each supporting a shield. When James VI became James I of England and Ireland, one of the unicorns was replaced with the national animal of England, the lion. This change signified the union of the two kingdoms, yet it couldn't diminish the mystique of the unicorn.
But why was the unicorn always depicted bound by a golden chain on the Scottish coat of arms? It was believed that the unicorn was the mightiest of all creatures, wild and untamed, and only a virgin maiden could humble it. The entrapment symbolized the power of Scottish kings, who were strong enough to tame even the wildest of beasts.
And here's a delightful tidbit of trivia: Did you know that Scotland has a National Unicorn Day? It's a day of celebration held on the 9th of April each year, where Scots come together to honor their beloved national animal.
Now, while it may be a bit tricky to spot real unicorns in the wild, the influence of this enchanting creature can still be found all across Scotland. Many cities and towns bear the unicorn's heraldry as a testament to the nation's enduring admiration for this magical beast.
From the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen in Scotland, to the historic Edinburgh Castle dominating the skyline of Edinburgh, and even the Great Hall at Stirling Castle, where the beautiful 'Mystic Hunt of the Unicorn' tapestry hangs proudly, unicorns leave their mark.
So, dear reader, the next time you wander through the picturesque streets of Scotland, keep an eye out for these mythical creatures, and remember that in this fairytale land, the unicorn reigns supreme as the nation's most cherished and enchanting symbol.
The Birmingham Free Press was established in 1997 as an independent news and entertainment source. We publish a variety of books, magazines, and comics, along with our flagship, broadsheet newspaper.