Wherever in Scotland, you can see unicorns, a symbol of purity, wisdom and power.
In a corner of Edinburgh capital, the Holyroodhouse palace appears with “witch hat” towers and fortresses. Outside, Kenny Hanley, a 74-year-old tour guide, kept her eyes on a symbol on the south gate of the building.
It is a unicorn (unicorn) in legend, and is also a symbol of Scotland. Hanley said, in the minds of the people, the animal symbolizes the nation of purity, wisdom and power.
Today, the unicorn has great meaning in the life of the Scottish people. Not only does it appear gorgeous in children’s rooms or on colorful cereal boxes, but it is also brought into movies, cartoons, fashion and social networks. J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter novel is also inspired by many real places in Edinburgh, which show details of unicorn blood and feathers.
A bridge between fantasy and reality, this animal is printed and engraved on badges, gold coins, royal seals, tapestries, robes and even monuments. Among Edinburgh architecture such as the Holyroodhouse palace, Edinburgh castle, Craigmillar castle and St Giles church, unicorns are very popular. To the west of the capital, to Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Queen Mary, you can see unicorns appearing at the well-preserved fountain and ceiling.
At Stirling Castle, the mythical creature is placed at the center of the detailed carpets. The seven carpets here are hand-woven, imitating Unicorn Tapestries, one of the most valuable artwork in the late Middle Ages (the prototype is on display at the Met Cloisters Museum, New York, USA).
From Aberdeenshire’s Delgatie Castle to HMS Unicorn, Dundee’s ancient warship, or on the Prestonpans and Glasgow crosses there are countless hooves unicorns, wearing royal imprints.
The historical story of the one-horse unicorn dates back more than 3,000 years. Ancient Greeks believed in the existence of this horse-like creature. It was first recorded in an ancient book by the historian Ctesias in the 4th century BC. He described it as a wild donkey with a horn growing from the middle of his head.
The belief of unicorns was spread widely when it appeared in the Old City like mythical horses. Real creatures like rhinos, horn antelopes and unicorns have been brought up to explain the legend. One theory of the unicorn’s disappearance is that the creature did not make it in time to board the Noah’s Ark (the ship that saved Noah’s life, the family and the animals before the flood, according to the Bible).
According to Donaldson, unicorns stick with Scottish heritage over the years. Tourists visit Scotland to explore history, through unicorn imagery and ancient castles. It is the nation’s unique attraction and this legendary creature is an integral part of the architecture. “Unicorns speak for the people of Scotland,” said Donaldson.