2018 Great Britain 2oz Silver Queen’s Beast Unicorn of Scotland
A new coin series exploring the fantastical beasts of heraldry
One of the first two coins in the series of ten £5 coins is the Unicorn of Scotland. Both the Unicorn of Scotland and its counterpart, the Lion of England are well known as supporters of the Royal Arms – not just a royal badge, but symbols of the monarchy and of the United Kingdom that appear in many places, including British passports. The Unicorn of Scotland is a powerful symbol of strength and grace that appears all around the United Kingdom.
Tales of the mythical unicorn date back to around 400 BC, perhaps confused or exaggerated descriptions of animals like the rhinoceros or wild bulls and horses. The creature was at first thought to be huge, strong and fierce, but it later became a more elegant beast, a symbol of purity and innocence. James I of England, who united the English and Scottish thrones, chose the Scottish Unicorn to join the Lion of England in supporting the Royal Arms. They have supported the shield ever since.
The Unicorn of Scotland, milk-white with gold hooves, horn and mane, has a coronet around its neck, like a collar, with a gold chain attached. It is thought that the chain was to show a great beast had been tamed to serve the king. As with most chained beasts in heraldry, its strength is emphasized rather than diminished by its shackles. It holds the royal coat of Scotland, unchanged since the time of Scottish king, Alexander III. A red lion rampant (the most fierce stance) is shown on a gold background.