Scotland’s national animal is the unicorn.
Source: Original photo by Claudine Klodien / Alamy Stock Photo
Next Fact

Scotland’s national animal is the unicorn.

America has the eagle, England has the lion, and Scotland has the unicorn. And while the horned mythological creature may not actually exist, the traits it represents certainly do: Purity, independence, and an untamable spirit are all qualities Scotland has long cherished. Unicorns appeared on the country’s coat of arms starting in the 12th century, and were ​​officially adopted as Scotland’s national animal by King Robert I in the late 14th century. For many years, the coat of arms included two of the legendary beings, but in 1603 one was replaced by a lion to mark the Union of the Crowns. Fittingly for the then-newly united England and Scotland, folklore had long depicted the two creatures as butting heads to determine which one was truly the “king of beasts.”

The world’s shortest regular commercial flight is in Scotland.
Ready to Reveal?
Confirm your email to reveal the answer

By subscribing you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Incorrect.
It's a Fact
Just two miles separate the Scottish islands of Westray and Papa Westray, which means that the Loganair flight connecting them can last as little as 53 seconds. A number of locals depend on the eight-seat aircraft to go about their daily lives.

Scottish kings also displayed that fighting spirit, which may be why unicorns were generally depicted in Scottish heraldry as wearing gold chains — only the land’s mighty monarchs could tame them. Unicorns remain popular in Scotland to this day, with renditions found on palaces, universities, castles, and even Scotland’s oldest surviving wooden warship.

Make Every Day More Interesting
Recieve Facts Directly In Your Inbox. Daily.

By subscribing you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Numbers Don’t Lie
Number of whisky distilleries in Scotland
130
Mentions of the word “unicorn” in the King James Bible
6
Year the Kingdom of Scotland ceased to exist as a sovereign state
1707
Percentage of Scots with red hair, compared to 1-2% of the global population
13
The Loch Ness Monster was first written about in the year _______.
The Loch Ness Monster was first written about in the year 565.
Ready to Reveal?
Confirm your email to reveal the answer

By subscribing you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Think Twice
Royals used to test their food for poison with faux-unicorn horns.

Neither unicorns nor their horns are real, but that hasn’t stopped people from attributing mystical properties to them for centuries. One case in point: European nobility circa the Middle Ages, who used so-called unicorn horns (also known as alicorn) to determine whether or not the meal they were about to consume had been poisoned. The “horns” were actually narwhal tusks in most cases, though rhinoceros and walrus horns were also used — and these stand-ins could cost 10 times their weight in gold. Belief in their powers was widespread for centuries, with no less a monarch than Queen Elizabeth I being a devotee.

Article image
You might also like
6 Countries With Unusual National Animals
From mythical creatures to religious representations, here are six countries where a strange or unusual beast is a national symbol.