The Thistle – Scotland’s National Flower
The thistle is iconic in Scotland. You can find it on glassware, on belt buckles, on earrings and brooches, and even as the focus in the artwork of many artists around Scotland. But when other countries have flowers such as the rose, or the daffodil, how did Scotland acquire the spiny, jaggy thistle?
No one knows for certain how this humble prickly weed became Scotland’s national flower, but there are many legends surrounding it. The one that is the most popular is the story of the Norwegian army attacking Scots in 1263. King Alexander III of Scotland proposed to buy back the Western Isles from the Norse. This rekindled their interest in the area and decided to conquer it all. The Norse set off for Scotland landing in Ayrshire and on a late summer’s night, the army decided to sneak attack the Scots. the best way to do this was to remove their footwear. One of the Norsemen stepped on our beloved jaggy thistles and shrieked. This woke up the Scottish Clansmen and altered them that trouble was nearby. The Scots won the battle, and thus the jaggy thistle played an important role in saving Scotland from a full invasion.
Another version of the legend of the thistle involved King Achius. In the 6th century, he founded the Order of the Knights of the Thistle, which limited the number of knights to 13. While this is still to be proven. It was refounded by King James III in 1687. It now represents one of the highest honours that can be received by an individual in all of Great Britain. The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle is an order of chivalry which is presented to those who have made an outstanding contribution to the life of Scotland and in the greater United Kingdom. It also represents one of the highest honours the country can give an individual. Founded by James III in 1687, the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle is an order of chivalry which is bestowed to those who have made an outstanding contribution to the life of Scotland and the greater United Kingdom. Among the members of this order includes our local The Lord of Aikwood – Sir David Steele.
If you look around Scotland, the thistle is not just found on items for your home, or on jewellery, or even in the countryside. The Scottish Thistle is everywhere and is as synonymous with Scotland as tartan is. Recently, the Commonwealth Games were held in Glasgow, and the mascot for the games was a giant cartoon thistle. It is even the logo for some of Scotland National Sports Teams, including Rugby and Cricket. So, you see this flower of Scotland is more to the Scottish people than just a flower. It is a symbol of the country, and regardless if it became the nation’s flower through warning us of battle or after the order of the Thistle, we are just proud it is ours.