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The Honours of Scotland

I wanted to continue my examination of regalia. There are so many more examples of regalia that I like that I will feature more in the coming weeks. This week I wanted to view the Honours of Scotland. Many people know of the crown jewels of England that are sitting in the Jewel House in the Tower of London. However, those are not the only Crown Jewels in the British Isles. Up in the Crown Room of Edinburgh Castle are the regalia of Scotland known as the Honours of Scotland. They consist of the Crown of Scotland, the Scepter, and the Sword of State. These three elements also are depicted on the crest of the Royal coat of arms of Scotland. The red Lion representing the King of Scots wears the Crown while holding both the Sword and the Scepter. The regalia in this collection is older than the ones in London.

The Crown of Scotland.

The Crown of Scotland was made in 1540 for James V, King of Scots (1515-1542) and was made from an existing crown built in 1503. The original crown was damaged and falling apart. The King ordered e royal goldsmith, John Mosman to fashion a new crown. The old crown was dismantled and the gold was melted down and used for the new crown. Made from solid gold, the crown has a base that is set with four alternating fleur-de-lis and four strawberry leaves. Four arches that cap the crown are decorated with gold and red oak leaves. Where the four arches intersect at the top of the crown is a a gold monde that is painted blue with gold stars. On top of the monde is a large cross decorated in gold and black enamel and pearls. The crown is bejeweled with 22 gemstones, ranging from arnets and amethysts and 68 Scottish freshwater pearls. James V had included a purple and ermine bonnet from inside the crown but James VII changed the bonnet from purple to red. I personally would like the purple bonnet which has been changed though the centuries as they have worn out. The present bonnet was made in 1993. The crown weighs 3 lb 10 oz.

This crown was used during the reign of James V (he wore it for the coronation of his second wife Mary of Guise the year the crown was manufactured) and subsequent coronations including Charles II as King of Scots in 1651. While the English regalia was destroyed during the Commonwealth period after the abolition of the monarchy in 1649 some resourceful and smart thinking Scot had the regalia buried until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. In 1707 the Honours of Scotland were packed away in Edinburgh Castle where they were forgotten for over a century. They were found in 1818 by Sir Walter Scott and since 1819 they have been placed on display in the Crown Room of Edinburgh Castle. The crown has been used from time to time on State occasions such as the first opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

The Sword of State

The Sword of Sate was a gift to James IV, King of Scots (1473-1513) from Pope Julius II (1443-1513). The blade of the sword is 4 ½ feet long and carved with the figures of St. Peter and St. Paul along with the name of Pope Julius II. The handle is made of silver is carved with figures of oak leaves and acorns. The sword was broken in half in order to be hidden from Cromwell’s men in 1652 and was repaired afterward.

The Scepter.

The Scepter was also a gift to James IV, King of Scots by Pope Alexander VI (the infamous Roderic de Borja) (1431-1503). The scepter was given as a gift in 1494, and has gone through some renovations and remodeling such as in 1536 when it was lengthened. The scepter is made of silver gilt and contains many Christian symbol, ranging from dolphins which are symbols of the Church, images of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus. Also depicted are St. James the Great and St. Andrew (the patron saint of Scotland) holding a saltire. The head of the rod is topped by a finial with polished rock, experts theorize it is a Cairngorm, and a Scottish pearl.

This simple yet elegant collection of regalia is simply beautiful. If ever Scotland achieves independence and shares a monarch once again with England (or perhaps a monarch of their own) I would love to see the crown once again sit atop the head of a King or Queen of Scots.

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