Why Are Unicorns Scotland’s National Animal?

Most countries don’t have mythological creatures as their national symbols, but Scotland is different. The UK’s northernmost country chose unicorns as their national animal in the 12th century and it hasn’t changed since.

This choice originates from Celtic mythology, where the unicorn was a symbol of innocence and purity, but at the same time power and masculinity. The unicorn representing Scotland is always bounded by a golden chain, either around its neck or its body. This represents the belief that unicorns are the strongest animals that can be tamed by no one but a virgin maiden.


Many cities and towns in Scotland still bear unicorn heraldry. There are unicorns on many important historic buildings and statues around the country, including the Palace of Holyroodhouse, National War Museum, Linlithgow Palace, etc.