On 9 April, Scotland celebrates National Unicorn Day, in honour of the country's national animal. Unicorns may be mythical creatures but that doesn't stop them being represented all over Scotland, and in the country's coat of arms.
This 2m willow sculpture was created specially for National Unicorn Day by artist Woody Fox, and has been installed at the land art attraction Multiverse in the Scottish Borders.
Unicorns have been associated with Scottish royalty since the 12th century, and featured on the monarch's coat of arms. When James VI of Scotland became James I on England after the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, he replaced one of the unicorns with an English lion. The lion-and-unicorn coat of arms is found on all British passports until the present day.
The unicorn appears on monuments and architecture all over Scotland, such as this sculpture on a wall of Linlithgow Palace, royal residence of many Stewart monarchs. It is surrounded with other Scottish symbols:
- thistles: the national flower, celebrated in the national anthem "Oh Flower of Scotland"
- the saltire flag, or St Andrew's cross (Scotland's patron saint)
- the "lion rampant", another widely used flag.
The Scots are not the only Brits to have an association with mythical creatures. The Welsh flag is a red dragon, and the patron saint of England, St George, is usually depicted slaying a dragon. The Scots, like all Celts, are fond of the supernatural, fairies and ghosts. This is the home of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, after all!
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