Scotland’s National Symbols and Icons

Scottish symbols and what they mean

Scotland is a country rich in heritage, history and culture. So, as a result there are many Scottish symbols that represent everything the Scots are proud of. From the national flag, to the beautiful national bird, the Golden Eagle. So, to help you understand them during your stay at the Kingsmills Hotel, here’s a guide to the meanings behind some of our iconic Scottish symbols:

The Scottish Thistle

This unusual purple-flowered thistle rose grows wild in the Highlands and is Scotland’s national flower. Why it became the national flower of Scotland is still a mystery. However, legendary tales say sleeping Scottish warriors were saved by this plant. A soldier from an invading Norse army stepped on the prickly flower and his cries awoke the sleeping Scots. Then, after successfully fighting the Norse invaders, they adopted the thistle as their national flower. The purple flower also represents centuries of Scottish heraldry. The Order of the Thistle is an award for chivalry, given to people who have significantly contributed to Scotland and the UK. During your visit to the Kingsmills Hotel, you’re likely to spot this distinctive flower while out and about exploring Inverness’ attractions.

A purple thistle against the blue sky
The Scottish thistle is the national flower of Scotland.

Mystical Scottish Unicorn

The unicorn has been linked with Scotland for centuries. Famously known as wild, fierce, bold and resilient, the Scots adopted the mythical creature as its national animal. Firstly, the unicorn was featured on the Scottish royal coat of arms by William I in the 12th century. Then, it appeared on gold coins in the 15th century under King James III’s rule. Since then, the Scottish unicorn has appeared on everything from shields, to magnificent statues at Scottish attractions and castles.

Unicorn statue in the Scottish city Inverness
Our national animal is the mythical unicorn, known for its strength, ferocity and resilience.

Majestic Golden Eagle

Although unofficial, the Golden Eagle is widely regarded as the national bird of Scotland. This huge bird of prey (with a 2.1 m wingspan) soars through the sky over the mountains and moorlands of Scotland. The eagle symbolises strength, power and freedom, and you may spot its image on historical sites, place names and signage across the country.

Saltire Flag of St Andrew

It’s hard to visit Scotland without seeing the national blue and white flag billowing in the breeze somewhere on your travels. Named the Saltire, this iconic flag is the country’s official national flag. The Saltire flag is blue with a white diagonal cross. It represents Saint Andrew who is said to have been crucified on a cross in Greece. Carried into many battles over the centuries, the Saltire has become one of the most iconic and proud Scottish symbols. So, you’ll see it waving proudly at many attractions, castles and landmarks across Scotland.

Three Scottish flags against a blue sky
The blue and white Scottish flag is called the Saltire and features the Saint Andrew’s cross.

Lion Rampant, Fierce and Proud

Often mistaken as the national flag of Scotland, the Lion Rampart is the Royal Banner of Scotland. The flag legally and historically belongs to a King or Queen of Scotland, and now Queen Elizabeth II. On the yellow flag, a red lion is standing upright on its hind legs, with its claws ready to strike. Some say it truly represents Scotland’s history of battle and national pride. And, you’re also likely to see many of these flags proudly waved about at a Scottish football or rugby match.

Yellow and red Lion Rampant flag
The Lion Rampart is the Royal Banner of Scotland, historically belonging to a the Scottish monarch.

So, now you know some of the history and tales behind a few of the most famous Scottish symbols. Why not, book one of our beautiful rooms at Kingsmills Hotel, and come and see them for yourself? Check out our latest special offers and start planning your next Scottish adventure!