UNICORN – A National Animal ?

The unicorn has been described as a beast with a single large, spiralled pointed horn projecting from its forehead. In European folklore, the unicorn is often depicted as a white horse-like or goat-like animal with a long horn and cloven hooves.


Most of them would be surprised to know that unicorn is a national animal of Scotland (if you aren’t aware!).

Beliefs :

During a research to find out why unicorn was labelled as a national animal of Scotland, it was found that, Unicorn was believed to be the natural enemy of the lion – a symbol that the English royals adopted around a hundred years before. According to folklore, the lion and the unicorn hate each other – a tradition going back to the ancient Babylonians in 3,500 B.C. And the elephant to be the second natural enemy. Though unicorn is of a diminished size as compared to elephant, with its immense strength it always used to defeat elephant. It also had to do with the idea of nobility and purity is what is believed by the people of Scotland.

In Celtic mythology the unicorn was a symbol of purity and innocence, as well as masculinity and power. Tales of dominance and chivalry associated with the unicorn may be why it was chosen as Scotland’s national animal.

History :

The unicorn was first used on the Scottish royal coat of arms by William I in the 12th century. In the 15th century, when King James III was in power, gold coins even appeared with the unicorn on them. When Scotland and England unified under the reign of James VI of Scotland in 1603, the Scottish Royal Arms had two unicorns supporting a shield. When James VI became James I of England and Ireland, he replaced the unicorn on the left of the shield with the national animal of England, the lion, to show that the countries were indeed united.

The most common unicorn mythology facts are :

  • Divining Truth: The unicorn is thought to hold the power to divine truth and will pierce the heart of a liar with its horn.

unicorn a national animal

  • Supreme Strength: According to Jewish legend, the unicorn can easily kill an elephant, a testament to its immense power and strength.

unicorn a national animal

  • Purity: It is believed that the unicorn is attracted to purity and innocence, giving rise to the legend of the virgin and the unicorn. According to this ancient legend, only a virgin sitting naked under a tree holds the power to capture a unicorn. Seeing her beauty and pureness, the unicorn reportedly will venture close and lay down beside the virgin placing his head in her lap, where the hunter can then kill or capture him.

unicorn a national animal

  • Untamable: It is said that even if the unicorn is captured, it can never be tamed.

unicorn a national animalGeneral facts :

  • 9 April is marked as Scotland’s National Unicorn Day.
  • Unicorns can have purple eyes and their horns were sold for 10 times their weight in gold back in the 1500’s.
  • The unicorn may eat grass and hay, but it really doesn’t need to eat at all. It absorbs its energy from the sun, probably through the horn.
  • Anyone who touches a pure white unicorn will find happiness and joy for his entire life.
  • Unicorns live in groups of four or five that make up a joyous family. The head of the family is an elder unicorn who is hundreds of years old. Other family members include a loving couple and one or two young unicorns.

-Shreesha Balan

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