Scottish national symbols and emblems

When you visit us here in Scotland, you’ll come across many different national emblems. So today, we’re taking a look at some of these Scottish symbols, to help you understand what they mean and how to identify them. Look out for these flags, symbols and other icons on your travels around Scotland…

Scottish Flag

The official flag of Scotland is known as the Saltire or St. Andrew’s Cross. It features a blue background with a white diagonal cross. You’ll see this flag flying from important buildings, and it is also in common use throughout the country. Our own hotel logo is blue, as a nod to the Scottish flag.

Blue flag with a white diagonal cross

Royal Banner

The Royal Banner of Scotland is called the Lion Rampant. This is a yellow flag with a red border and red lion design. It represents the monarch of Scotland and can only officially be flown by a royal residence and a few select representatives.

Yellow flag with red border and red lion design

Patron Saint

St Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland. So, on 30th November every year we mark St Andrew’s Day with a celebration of Scottish culture and tradition.

National Anthem

Although its not official, many have adopted “Flower of Scotland” as the Scottish national anthem. Participants and crowds sing it at Scotland sports matches, such as rugby and football. And also at the Commonwealth Games.

National Flower

The thistle is the floral emblem of Scotland. Scots have used its image in many ways for centuries. Lots of different varieties of thistle grow all over the country. Look out for them in any wild green areas, such as parkland and countryside.

Thistle, the national flower of Scotland

National Animal

It may surprise you to learn that Scotland’s national animal is actually the mythical unicorn. In Scottish folklore, a unicorn is fierce, powerful and wild. In some representations, the creature appears in chains, possibly to signify that the Scottish Kings were strong enough to tame even a unicorn.

Stone sculpture of a unicorn in Scotland

National Bird

The golden eagle is the unofficial national bird of Scotland. A mighty bird of prey found in the Scottish countryside, which signifies strength, wisdom and courage.

A golden eagle perched on a branch

National Dress

Highland dress is the traditional clothing of Scotland. The outfit for men includes a tartan kilt, shirt, plaid, jacket, belt, sporran, sgian-dubh and knee-socks. Tartan skirts and dresses are also available for women. Today, Highland dress is usually worn for formal occasions, such as ceilidhs (dances) and weddings.

Row of men in kilts

National Dish

Haggis is our national dish. This is a Scottish meat pudding, made with minced sheep’s pluck, onion, oatmeal and spices, traditionally boiled in a sheep’s stomach. Usually served with neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes), this dish is often enjoyed on Burns Night, in celebration of our national bard, Robert Burns.

A bowl of Haggis Neeps and Tatties

National Drink

And finally, you won’t have to look too far to find a wee dram of Scotland’s national drink, whisky. (Indeed, we have a choice of over 500 whiskies in our bar!) An authentic Scotch whisky must be produced entirely here in Scotland and matured in oak casks for at least three years.

A selection of whisky in the bar at Mackays Hotel

On your travels around Scotland, come and see us at Makays Hotel in Wick, Caithness. We offer comfortable accommodation and good Scottish hospitality, near the famous North Coast 500 route.

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