Strong, fiercely independent and generous of spirit – the Scottish Unicorn

Happy Unicorn Day. For centuries the mythical beast regarded as the strongest and most benevolent of animals has adorned Scotland’s national coat of arms.

Photograph by: Julie Howden/Visit Scotland7ft willow unicorn at Crawick Multiverse, Dumfries &; Galloway by artist Woody Fox.

It may not be as big an event as Burns Night or St Andrew’s Day in the Scottish calendar but it is growing in popularity.This year a new sculpture celebrating Scotland’s national animal was unveiled at one of the country’s leading art attractions.

The 7ft unicorn sculpture, designed and created by willow artist Woody Fox, took pride of place within the 55-acre Crawick Multiverse artland in Dumfries & Galloway to mark Scotland’s links to the mythical creature as communities across the country celebrated National Unicorn Day on April 9.The fabled creature is a proud symbol of nobility and power and has been the nation’s favoured beast since the 14th century.

Unicorns were written about by the ancient Persians, Romans, Greeks and Celts, and were often described as an elegant white horse-like creature with a single horn capable of magical properties.

Old version of Scotland’s Royal Coat of Arms

They’ve been linked to Scotland for centuries and were used as an early form of the Scottish coat of arms by William I in the late 1300s.

Although the Unicorn is a mythical animal its fabled characteristics make it a perfect fit as Scotland national animal. According to Celtic legend the one-horned horse-like animal symbolises purity, grace, strength and determination to remain free and unconquered.

The Unicorn features on the coat of arms by William 1 in the 14th century and by the 15th century King James III had gold coins made with the creature depicted on them.Prior to the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when King James VI of Scotland became James I of England, the Scottish Royal Arms had two unicorns supporting a shield. Almost immediately James had one of them replaced with a lion, the national animal of England.

Considering legend has it that the lion and unicorn are natural rivals the combination of the two is often seen as symbolic of the often complex relationship between the two countries.

Throughout the world the unicorn has been depicted as a force for good, often using its power, strength and influence to help others.

Almost every culture has had its own depictions of the mythical beast.The unicorn features heavily in Babylonian folklore dating back to 3,500 BC and in Asian countries it is regarded as a bringer of good luck.

In many western countries belief in the unicorn as a real creature continued for centuries. It wasn’t until 1825 that scientist Baron George Covier proved it couldn’t be real.