Saturday, 3 July 2010

How the Thistle became the emblem of Scotland

Whilst talking about thistles, I thought I'd tell you all how the thistle may have come to be the national emblem of Scotland.

Long ago, the story goes, an invading party of Danes sought one night to take a slumbering Scottish encampment, patrolled by only one sentry, by surprise. The Danes crept up to them, noiselessly barefooted. Nearer they crept; all was still, no horn sounded. Then in the dark, one man trod on a thistle and let out a loud howl of pain. Alerted to the danger, the hardy Scots leaped from their sleep, fell upon the raiders and defeated them with terrible slaughter......The plant which saved them became known as the Guardian Thistle, and was adopted as the symbol of Scotland along with the motto, Nemo me impue Laecessit, meaning "No one provokes me with impunity" (No one harms me without punishment) or translated into Scots "Wha daurs meddle wi me".

Unfortunately there is no historical evidence to back up this tale. It became the official emblem of Scotland in the reign of Alexander III in the 13th century and was first used on coins in 1470 during the reign of James III.


  1. Whether the story's true or not, it's a good one!

  2. Love the story! It's certainly painful standing on a thistle!

  3. Irene,

    thank you for directing me here. I love to hear these types of stories. it gives so much meaning to an emblem. I especially love your final bought a smile to my dial!!

    ML Fi x



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