Information about Symbol: Royal Arms of Scotland

Royal Arms of Scotland

The royal arms of Scotland is the official coat of arms of the King of Scots first adopted in the 12th century. With the Union of the Crowns in 1603, King James VI inherited the thrones of England and Ireland and thus his arms in Scotland were now quartered with the arms of England (which was itself quartered with France) with an additional quarter for Ireland also added (the arms would continue to alter in later years). Though the kingdoms of England and Scotland would share the same monarch, the distinction in heraldry used in both kingdoms was maintained. When the kingdoms of Scotland and England were united under the Acts of Union 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, no single arms were created, thereby maintaining the convention that the royal arms used in Scotland would continue to differ from those used elsewhere.

The arms feature a red rampant lion with blue tongue and claws situated within a red double border decorated with fleurs-de-lis (known as the royal tressure). The fleurs-de-lis in the royal tressure are traditionally said to represent the "auld alliance" with France, but this is unlikely, as this alliance did not come to exist until 1295, when the royal tressure had been firmly established as part of the arms for many years. It was perhaps added merely to make the arms more distinctive, as the symbol of a rampant lion was already used by several lords and kings.

Atop the shield sits the helm and crest. The helm is full-faced of damasked gold with six bars and features gold mantling lined with ermine. Upon the helm sits the crest, depicting the red lion, forward facing and sitting atop the Crown of Scotland, displaying the Honours of Scotland. The lion wears the Crown of Scotland and holds both the Sceptre and the Sword of State.

Above the crest is the slogan "In Defens", a contraction of "In My Defens God Me Defend" ("defens" being the Scots language spelling of "defence"). Surrounding the shield is the collar of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle.

The supporters are two crowned and chained unicorns, the dexter supporting a banner of the arms, (only in this instance is the lion depicted facing away from the lance, whereas when flown correctly the lion should face towards or respect the lance or, in most cases, the flag pole); the sinister supporting the national flag of Scotland. In the legend The Hunt of the Unicorn, otherwise known as The Unicorn Tapestries displayed at Stirling Castle and New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the unicorn denotes Jesus Christ: Christ will be called the son of unicorns, for the unicorn is irresistible in might and unsubjected to man. The Hunt of the Unicorn is a love story involving Christ the unicorn, mankind and a maiden. The chained unicorn represents a risen Christ, in the garden of paradise and the chains around the unicorn represent the chains of Christ's love for the maiden and mankind. Throughout the ages the arms passed from monarch to succeeding monarch with only slight variations in detail. In some early examples the crest depicts the lion without a sceptre and holding the sword at an angle in the dexter paw, the sword blade passing behind the crowned head of the lion. Other versions show the unicorn supporters without their crowns, although being considered dangerous beasts they are always chained.

The compartment features a number of thistles, the national flower of Scotland. Later versions of the arms were to include a blue ribbon over the compartment, upon which in gold lettering appears the motto of the Order of the Thistle: Nemo me impune lacessit.

A form of these arms was first used by King William the Lion (reigned 1165 - 1214) in the 12th century, though no trace of them can be made out on his seal. However, a lion rampant can clearly be made out on the seal of his son, Alexander II.

Royal Arms of Scotland - showing 17 of 17 coins
CountryNameMintageLegend
United Kingdom Shilling 1953 Scottish 20,703,528 + ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA BRITT: OMN: REGINA
United Kingdom Shilling 1954 Scottish 26,771,735 + ELIZABETH · II DEI · GRATIA · REGINA
United Kingdom Shilling 1955 Scottish 27,950,906 + ELIZABETH · II DEI · GRATIA · REGINA
United Kingdom Shilling 1956 Scottish 42,853,639 + ELIZABETH · II DEI · GRATIA · REGINA
United Kingdom Shilling 1957 Scottish 17,959,988 + ELIZABETH · II DEI · GRATIA · REGINA
United Kingdom Shilling 1958 Scottish 40,822,557 + ELIZABETH · II DEI · GRATIA · REGINA
United Kingdom Shilling 1959 Scottish 1,012,988 + ELIZABETH · II DEI · GRATIA · REGINA
United Kingdom Shilling 1960 Scottish 14,375,932 + ELIZABETH · II DEI · GRATIA · REGINA
United Kingdom Shilling 1961 Scottish 2,762,558 + ELIZABETH · II DEI · GRATIA · REGINA
United Kingdom Shilling 1962 Scottish 18,967,310 + ELIZABETH · II DEI · GRATIA · REGINA
United Kingdom Shilling 1963 Scottish 32,300,000 + ELIZABETH · II DEI · GRATIA · REGINA
United Kingdom Shilling 1964 Scottish 5,246,560 + ELIZABETH · II DEI · GRATIA · REGINA
United Kingdom Shilling 1965 Scottish 31,364,000 + ELIZABETH · II DEI · GRATIA · REGINA
United Kingdom Shilling 1966 Scottish 15,604,000 + ELIZABETH · II DEI · GRATIA · REGINA
United Kingdom Shilling 1970 Scottish (Proof only) 750,476 + ELIZABETH · II DEI · GRATIA · REGINA
United Kingdom One Pound 1994 Lion Rampant 29,997,217 ELIZABETH II D · G · REG · F · D · 1994
United Kingdom One Pound 1999 Lion Rampant 216,840 ELIZABETH · II · D · G REG · F · D · 1999
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