Part 2





The Universe

The Realm

The Ruler



The State

Religious Authority

Administrative Authority

Armed Authority

The Achievement


Back to Part 1

The Ruler


A third socio-political element engraved on the stones is the imago of the ruler. It is a rider usually represented on the obverse of the stones in the same way a rider was represented on the obverses of the later  royal seals. These riders are for sure the beginning of the tradition in Scotland. The king is represented here in his quality of commander or as the holder of armed authority, the thunderbolt of which is sometimes represented above his head. Sometimes his barons or co-warriors are represented.

In the early medieval period, with its many competing kingdoms within the modern boundaries of Scotland, kingship was not inherited in a direct line from the previous king. A candidate for kingship usually needed to be a member of a particular dynasty and to claim descent from a particular ancestor. Kingship could be multi-layered and very fluid. The Pictish kings of Fortriu were probably acting as overlords of other Pictish kings for much of this period and occasionally were able to assert an overlordship over non-Pictish kings, but sometimes had to acknowledge the overlordship of external rulers, both Anglian and British. Such relationships may have included obligations to pay tribute or to



House of Alpin 842-1034

Kenneth I


King of Dalraida 840

Conquest of Pictavia 842

Donald I


Constantine I






Donald II


Constantine II


Malcolm I








Kenneth II


Constantine III 


Kenneth III


Malcolm II


supply armed forces. In victory subordinate rulers may have received rewards in return. Interaction and intermarriage into subject kingdoms may have opened the way to absorption of such sub-kingdoms and, although there might be later overturnings of such annexation, it is likely that kingship was being gradually monopolised by a handful of the most powerful dynasties.


The primary role of a king was to act as a war leader, reflected in the very small number of minorities or female reigning monarchs in the period. Kings organised the defence of their people's lands, property and persons and negotiated with other kings to secure these things. If they failed to do so, the settlements might be raided, destroyed or annexed and the populations killed or taken into slavery. Kings also engaged in the low-level warfare of raiding and the more ambitious full-scale warfare that led to conflicts of large armies and alliances and which could be undertaken over relatively large distances, like the expedition to Orkney by Dál Riata in 581 or the Northumbrian attack on Ireland in 684.


It was only at the beginning of the 12th century that the Scottinh kings came to represent themselves as administrative heads issuing sealed documents.


Kingship had its ritual aspects. The Scottish kings of Dál Riata were inaugurated by putting their foot in a footprint in stone, signifying that they would follow in the footsteps of their predecessors. The Kingdom of Alba, unified in the ninth century and which would develop into the kingdom of Scotland, had Scone and its sacred stone at the heart of its coronation ceremony, which historians presume was inherited from Pictish practice, but which was claimed to date back to the first arrival of the Scottish kings from Ireland. It was here that Scottish kings before the wars of independence were crowned, on the Stone of Scone, before its removal by Edward I in 1296. The first ceremony for which details survive is that for Alexander III in 1249. They describe a ceremony that combined elements of ancient heritage, the Church and secular lordship. He was consecrated by the Bishop of St Andrews and placed on the throne by the Mormaers of Strathearn and Fife and his genealogy recited in Gaelic back to his Dalriadric Scottish ancestors by a royal poet from the Highlands. There was no anointment or crowning ceremony, as was common elsewhere in Europe. Later kings seem to have resented this omission and attempted to remedy it by appeals to the Pope. However, Scottish kings are usually depicted wearing crowns and carrying the normal regalia associated with kingship.


For most of the medieval era, the king was itinerant and had no "capital" as such. David I (r. 1124–53) tried to build up Roxburgh as a royal centre, but in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, more charters were issued at Scone than any other location. Other popular locations in the early part of the era were nearby Perth, Stirling, Dunfermline and Edinburgh. In the later Middle Ages the king moved between royal castles, particularly Perth and Stirling, but also holding judicial sessions throughout the kingdom, with Edinburgh only beginning to emerge as the capital in the reign of James III at the cost of considerable unpopularity. The unification of the kingdom, the spread of Anglo-Norman custom, the development of a European trading economy and Robert I's success in achieving independence from England did much to build up the prestige of the institution.




The badges of the Scottish ruler were a crown, a sceptre, a sword, and a royal mantle. These were parts of his imago, the portrait of the ruler in full official dress.  More or less a throne also belonged to his imago.

From the end of the 12th century he also bore a coat of arms or a personal emblem.


The Crown

From the reign of King Edgar (1097-1107) to the reign of King James II (1437-’60) the royal crown of Scotland is represented as a circular fillet with a varying number of fleurs de lis and leaves round the rim.

This crown qualifies the wearer as an official of royal rank, the fleurs de lis being the symbols of armed authority and the leaves the symbols of administrative but not christian administrative authority.


Young James III wearing an open crown with 5 (10) fleurs de lis and leaves


Towards the end of the fifteenth century several monarchs of ancient independent European kingdoms adopted the arched crown. In that time the Holy Roman Empire was abandoned by the Emperor Frederick III, and its nucleus in Germany renamed German Nation of the Holy Roman Empire. As a result the other kingdoms, formerly being nominally a part of  the Empire, became sovereign states. Their sovereignty was soon symbolized by a crown closed with two hoops, crested with an orb. For the occasion some crowns were upgraded by adding such hoops, in the case of the Hungarian crown for example by mounting an old cross on a medieval crown found in the royal treasury.

The first evidence that the new fashion was followed also in Scotland appears on a silver coin struck in 1484 during the reign of King James III. The coin is a groat bearing the portrait of the monarch wearing a diadem consisting of a fillet with eight fleurs de lis having four arches surmounted by an orb and cross.

Groat of King James III, 1484


The Trearurer’s accounts show that the crown was repaired by Matthew Auchinlek in 1503, possibly because it was light and delicate or that the hoops were mounted only provisionally. It was represented on the Book of Hours of King James IV said to be made in 1504.

The crown had to be repaired again in 1532, this time by the goldsmith Thomas Wood. By the time an inventory of royal jewels was made in March 1539, further damage had been done. The crown is described as having one fleur de lis broken off and lost. The inventory gives a weight of the crown as 16oz 15dwt Scots. The condition of the crown obviously did not satisfy King James V and he ordered major changes.

The goldsmith apponted to undertake the work was John Mosman, a member of the incorporation of Goldsmiths in Edinburgh.

Mosman had been commissioned in 1539 to make the Queen’s crown. In January 1540 he set about refashioning the Royal crown. His craftmanship is typical of Scottish work at the time, lacking the fine quality shown by the best contemporay continental goldsmiths.

Mosman started by dismantling the four arches from the broken crown and removed the existing stones and jewels. He melted down the remaining circlet and added forty-one ounces of Scottish gold. He then casted ten fleurs de lis and made ten crosses fleury, enriched by four pearls surrounding a gemstone. A broad flat band was made edged top and bottom with a decorative strip. On top of it was attached an undulating ring of forty half circles and thereon the ten fleurs de lis and the ten crosses fleury, each separated by a pearl. Twenty-two stones of varied shape and size were placed in claw settings. The circlet and its decoration are all nw work by John Mosman. The four arches from the old crown, each decorated with three gold and red enamelled oak leaves were added to the circlet. On its is the orb and cross brought van Paris by king James in 1537. At the foot of the cross on the back is a small rectangular panel with the letters IR5 for Jacobus Rex 5.

The crown is lined with a purple velvet bonnet, on it are four ornaments of pearls and enamelled gold plates. The original is said to be from 1503 being renewed in 1532. No bonnet however is seen on contemporary representations before 1540. It has been renewed on several occasions. By James VII (1685-’89) the colour was changed to red. The present bonnet was made in 1993.

On 13 February 1540 the new crown was delivered to the king at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and was worn by him at his consort’s coronation nine days later, in the abbey church of Holyrood.


The crown of 1540


A fur trim of ermine was added soon after the union of Scotland and England in 1603. It is derived from the ducal hat of the English kings which was red with a turnover of ermine.


The Scottish crown after 1603


The Sceptre

The sceptre as represented on the royal seals consists of a staff crested with a fleur de lis. It was introduced on the third seal of Alexander III (1249-’86) replacing the sword held in the right hand of earlier royal imago’s. In fact however, the meaning of sword and lily-sceptre was about the same, the sceptre symbolizing armed authority, the sword symbolizing the executive armed power.

The shape of the fleur de lis developed along the lines of European gothic fashion, its leaves becoming a less abstract shape in the course of time. On the seal of Robert III however, the straight fleur de lis-shape was reintroduced.

Tradition has it that the surviving sceptre was a gift in 1494 from Pope Alexander VI.



It is a golden staff crested with a kind of an almost unrecognisable fleur de lis with a large ball of christal rock on top.


The Throne

It is believed that a mysterious footprint in a rock at Dunadd has played a role in the inauguration of the kings of Dalraida.


Footprint at Dunadd


Another mysterious item connected with the coronations or inaugurations of Scottish kings is a big stone called “of Scone”  In 1296 the Stone was captured by Edward I of England as spoils of war and taken to Westminster Abbey, where it was fitted into a wooden chair - known as King Edward's Chair - on which most subsequent English sovereigns have been crowned. Edward I sought to claim his status as the "Lord Paramount" of Scotland, with the right to oversee its King.



The stone was described in the 14th century by the English cleric and historian Walter Hemingford. He described the stone and its location at the monastery of Scone, a few miles north of Perth:

“Apud Monasterium de Scone positus est lapis pergrandis in ecclesia Dei, juxta manum altare, concavus quidem ad modum rotundae cathedreaie confectus, in quo futuri reges loco quasi coronationis ponebantur ex more.

(In the monastery of Scone, in the church of God, near to the high altar, is kept a large stone, hollowed out as a round chair, on which their kings were placed for their ordination, according to custom).

Stone of Scone


The present stone does not match this description and has about the measures (66´42.5´27 cm) of the foot-stool which can be seen on the seal of King Edgar (1097-1107). For that reason we may suppose that King Edward I has only captured half of the royal seat. It has nevertheless played a role in subsequent coronation ceremonies of English kings.  By this tradition it has in any case gained its own authenticity.

On 3 July 1996, it was announced in the House of Commons that the Stone would be returned to Scotland, and on 15 November 1996, after a handover ceremony at the border between representatives of the Home Office and of the Scottish Office, it was transported to Edinburgh Castle. The Stone arrived in the Castle on 30 November 1996 and it remains alongside the crown jewels of Scotland (the Honours of Scotland) in the Crown Room. The handover occurred on St Andrew's Day, a day in honour of the patron Saint of Scotland, and Prince Andrew, Duke of York was the Queen's representative.


The stone is probably represented on the seal of King Edgar (1097-1107) on which his foot-stool has about the shape of the Stone of Scone. On later seals however, this foot-stool has disappeared and is replaced by a board as an integral part of the throne. Later the shape of the throne developed according to the subsequent fashions of gothic art.


The Imago


Óengus I       

King of the Picts 732-761


Associated with King Óengus I is is the so called St. Andrews Sarcophagus.


St Andrews Sarcophagus

St. Andrews Cathedral museum


One of the finest examples of early medieval sculpture in Europe, is the St Andrews Sarcophagus. Fragments of this were unearthed when a grave was being dug near St Rule's Tower (build 1123 ca) in 1833 and a subsequent search revealed larger pieces.

The main figure on the relief is of Hercules slaying the Nemean lion. This refers to the first of Hercules’ twelve labours, set by his cousin King Eurystheus, which was to slay the Nemean lion.



Hercules and the Nemean lion

(oinochoe, 520-500 BC, from Vulci)


According to one version of the myth, the Nemean lion took women as hostages to its lair in a cave near Nemea, luring warriors from nearby towns to save the damsel in distress. After entering the cave, the warrior would see the woman (usually feigning injury) and rush to her side. Once he was close, the woman would turn into a lion and kill the warrior, devouring his remains and giving the bones to Hades.

Hercules wandered the area until he came to the town of Cleonae. There he met a boy who said that if Hercules slew the Nemean lion and returned alive within thirty days, the town would sacrifice a lion to Zeus, but if he did not return within thirty days or he died, the boy would sacrifice himself to Zeus. Another version claims that he met Molorchos, a shepherd who had lost his son to the lion, saying that if he came back within thirty days, a ram would be sacrificed to Zeus. If he did not return within thirty days, it would be sacrificed to the dead Hercules as a mourning offering.

While searching for the lion, Hercules fletched some arrows to use against it, not knowing that its golden fur was impenetrable; when he found and shot the lion and firing at it with his bow, he discovered the fur's protective property when the arrow bounced harmlessly off the creature's thigh. After some time, Hercules made the lion return to his cave. The cave had two entrances, one of

which Hercules blocked; he then entered the other. In those dark and close quarters, Hercules stunned the beast with his club and, using his immense strength, strangled it to death. During the fight the lion bit off one of his fingers. Others say that he shot arrows at it, eventually shooting it in the unarmored mouth. After slaying the lion, he tried to skin it with a knife from his belt, but failed. He then tried sharpening the knife with a stone and even tried with the stone itself. Finally, Athena, noticing the hero's plight, told Hercules to use one of the lion's own claws to skin the pelt. Others say that Hercules' armor was, in fact, the hide of the lion of Cithaeron.



The idea is repeated with the rider slaying a lion in the upper central register, the rank of king or high-king of Oengus I symbolized by the eagle (falcon?) in his left hand. This is the first and only time that a Scottish King is represented with a bird of prey, be it an eagle or a falcon.


A rider strongly resembling the rider on the St Andrews sarcophagus is on the Hilton on Cadbol slab which may have been erected in the later years of the reign of Malcolm II (1005-’34). The decline of the sculpture is striking.


Rider on Hilton on Cadbol slab


On the stones however the ruler is not represented in the modern sense of a chief administrator and never “in majestas” like on many Irish high crosses and on the obverse of the medieval royal seals. Both stones with latin crosses and greek crosses have a ‘war-side’ on which the symbol of armed authority is represented together with the imago of the ruler.


Rider on Meigle 4

Rider on Gowan Sarcophagus

Rider on Meigle 2





Rider on Dupplin cross, 820.


Donald II



A very early representation of a Scottish king enthroned is in the 10th century Book of Deer.


Scottish king in the Book of Deer, fol. 4b


The Book of Deer (Leabhar Dhèir in Gaelic) (Cambridge University Library, MS. Ii.6.32) is a 10th-century Latin Gospel Book  with early 12th-century additions in Latin, Old Irish  and Scottish Gaelic . It is noted for containing the earliest surviving Gaelic writing from Scotland.

The Book of Deer (Evangelia) is a Gospel Book written in a hand that was current in the period c. 850-1000 and generally dated to the first half of the tenth century. While the manuscripts to which the Book of Deer is closest in character are all Irish, scholars have tended to argue for a Scottish origin, and it is widely regarded as the earliest manuscript produced in Scotland. Of the four Gospels only the text of St John is complete. Each Gospel is prefaced by a full-page illumination (1v, 16v, 29v, 41v). The manuscript belongs to the category of 'Irish pocket Gospel Books', produced for private use rather than for church services.

The association with Deer is deduced from additions in Gaelic or Middle Irish (3-5) including an account of the foundation of a monastery by Saint Columba and Saint Drostan and land grants to the house, and a Latin brieve of King David I in favour of the 'clerics of Deer' (40). One entry is dated 8 David I (1131-‘32). It is reasonable to assume that the manuscript was at Deer in Aberdeenshire when these additions were made.


On Fol. 4b. the text reads: 


Donachd mac mec bead mec hídid dorat acchad madchór docrist acusdodrostan acusdocholuimcille insóre gobrád malechí acuscómgell acusgillecrist mac fingúni innáienasi intestes acus malcoluim mac moliní. Cormac mac cennedig dorat gonige scáli merlec. Comgell mac cáennaig táesec clande canan dórat docrist acusdodrostán acusdócholuim cille gonige ingort lie mór igginn infíus isnesu daldín alenn ódubúci gólurchárí etarsliab acusachad. * issaeri othesseach cubráth acusabennacht arcachhén chomallfas araer cubrath acusamallact arachén ticfa ris; *


which in translation gives:



Donachad son of Mac Bethad son of Ided gave Achad Madchor to Christ and to Drostán and to Columcille in freedom for ever: Malechi and Comgell and Gille-Christ son of Fingune in witness whereof in testimony, and Maelcoluim son of Molíne. Cormac son of Cennedig gave as far as Scale Merlech. Comgell son of Caennech, chief of Clan Canan, gave to Christ and to Drostán and to Columcille as far as the Gort-lie-Mór at (the) hither(?) End which is nearest to Aldin Alenn from Dobaci to Luchari both mountain and field * in freedom from chief for ever; and his blessing on every one who shall fulfil (this) and his curse on every one who shall go against it." *


Æ This grant includes three portions of land. Achad Madchor is Auchmachar lying about three miles north-west from the church of Deer. Scale Merlech is that known now as Skillymarno, a farm about a mile beyond Auchmachar to the north. The third portion is the lands of Aldin Alenn or Aden (of old Alneden), which lie along the River Ugie eastwards from the church; but from the additional description, "both mountain and field", it may be inferred that these lands must have included part of the high ground at Pitfour.


The illustration is probably a representation of king Donald II (889-900) who is called Donachad in the grant of land. He is represented as a bearded king enthroned with a sword upright between his knees. His dress shows five stripes, three of them being cloured (purple), which seems to have been an Irish badge of rank. He and his assistants wear a bonnet which may be a predecessor of the Scottish bonnet.


Malcolm II




To the Irish annals which recorded his death, Máel Coluim (Malcolm II) was ard Alban, High King of Scotland.

The first reliable report of Máel Coluim's reign is of an invasion of Bernicia in 1006, perhaps the customary crech ríg (literally royal prey, a raid by a new king made to demonstrate prowess in war), which involved a siege of Durham. This appears to have resulted in a heavy defeat by the Northumbrians, led by Uhtred of Bamburgh (†1016), later Earl of Bernicia, which is reported by the Annals of Ulster.

A second war in Bernicia, probably in 1018, was more successful. The Battle of Carham, by the River Tweed, was a victory for the Scots led by Máel Coluim and the men of Strathclyde led by their king, Owen the Bald. By this time Eiríkr Hákonarson was appointed Earl of Northumbria by his brother-in-law Cnut the Great, although his authority seems to have been limited to the south, the former kingdom of Deira, and he took no action against the Scots so far as is known. The work De obsessione Dunelmi (The siege of Durham, associated with Symeon of Durham) claims that Uchtred's brother Eadwulf Cudel surrendered Lothian to Máel Coluim, presumably in the aftermath of the defeat at Carham.


House of Dunkeld


Duncan I      


House of Moray






House of Dunkeld


Malcolm III


Donald III


Duncan II



Equestrian seal of Duncan II: Rider with helmet and pennon. L.: X SIGILL [.....] ORV. [1]


Donald III






Seal of Majesty of Edgar: Seated ruler, in his left hand a sword. His feet on a footstool (Stone of Scone?)


Alexander I





Seal: Obv.: Enthroned crowned ruler with sword and orb, between two suns radiant. L.: ALEXANDER  DEO RECTORE REX SCOTTORUM (Alexander guided by God King of the Scots). Rev.: Knight on horseback with shield and pennon. L.: Id. 


St. David I




Seal: Obv.: Enthroned crowned ruler with sword and orb, between two suns radiant. L.: DAVID DEO RECTORE REX SCOTTORUM. Rev.: Knight on horseback with shield and pennon. L.: Id. 


Privy Seal of King David

Lion couchant reguardant


This is the second time a lion occurs in relation with a scottish ruler. In this time a lion was associated with the third Heerschild (shield of knighthood) on the continent. It was the badge of rank of a ruler not being a king or a high ranking prelate who ocupied the first and the second Heerschild, but more than a free lord who occupied the fourth Heerschild.

At the same time the sceptre of Stephen of Blois, king of England was crested with an eagle, the badge of the bretwalda’s of England before him.


Malcolm IV






Seal: Obv.: Enthroned crowned ruler with sword and orb, between two suns radiant. L.: MALCOLVM DEO RECTORE REX SCOTTORUM. Rev.: Knight on horseback with shield and pennon. L.: Id. 


William the Lion






Seal: Obv.: Enthroned crowned ruler with sword and orb, L.: WILHELMVS DEO RECTORE REX SCOTTORUM. Rev.: Knight on horseback with shield and pennon. L.: Id.




William was a key player in the Revolt of 1173–1174 against Henry II. In 1174, at the Battle of Alnwick, William recklessly charged the English troops himself, but was unhorsed and captured by Henry's troops led by Ranulf de Glanvill and taken to Falaise in Normandy. Henry then sent an army to Scotland and occupied it. As ransom and to regain his kingdom, William had to acknowledge Henry as his feudal overlord and agree to pay for the cost of the English army's occupation of Scotland by taxing the Scots. The church of Scotland was also subjected to that of England. This he did by signing the Treaty of Falaise. He was then allowed to return to Scotland. In 1175 he swore fealty to Henry II at York Castle.

When Richard the Lionheart needed money to take part in the Third Crusade, he agreed to terminate it in return for 10,000 silver marks, on 5 December 1189.

Probably because of the loss of sovereignty of his kingdoms the two suns disappeared on his seals.


The Arms


Alexander II







Seal: Obv.: Enthroned ruler with sword and orb. L.: ALEXANDER DEO RECTORE REX SCOTTORUM. Rev.: Knight on horseback with shield and sword. Arms: Lion rampant. On his saddle: Lion rampant. L.: Id. 


1244 Arms:: Or, lion rampant within a tressure flory. L.: scut rex scocie. Matthew Paris Liber Additamentorum . B.L. Ms Cotton Nero D.I.  Fol. 171 n° 3. (in the margin is a note on Henry III’s expedition to Scotland. (Lewis)



Arms: Or, a lion rampant Gules and a bordure flory counter flory Gules. L.: Scutum regis Scociæ.  Matthew Paris. Historia Anglorum. B.L. Ms Roy. 14.C.VII fol. 146v°: Death of Alexander II, King of Scots, 1249 - bottom left margin inverted shield. (Lewis).


Alexander III





First Seal

Seal: Obv.: Enthroned ruler with sword and.... Rev.: Knight on horseback with shield and sword. Arms: Lion rampant. On his horse clothes: Lion rampant. L.: Id. 




Second Seal


Seal: Obv.: Enthroned ruler with lily-scepter. L.: ALEXANDER DEO RECTORE REX SCOTTORUM. Rev.: Knight on horseback with shield and sword. Arms: Lion rampant within a tressure flory counterflory. On his saddle: Lion rampant within tressure flory counter flory. L.: Id. 



Third Seal


Seal: Obv.: Enthroned ruler with lily-scepter. L.: ALEXANDER DEO RECTORE REX SCOTTORUM. Rev.: Knight on horseback with shield and sword. Arms: Lion rampant within a tressure flory counterflory. On his saddle: Lion rampant within tressure flory counter flory. L.: Id. 


1252 Arms:: Or, a lion rampant in tressure flory inwards only Gules. Matthew Paris Chronica Majora. Corp. Christi. Coll. Ms 16 fol 254. King Alexander III of Scotland knighted, 1252 - bottom left margin: erect shield between a lance and sword, with belt and scabbard below. (Lewis).


Arms of the King of Scotland

as in Wijnbergen Armorial


1270 ca Arms: D’or au lion de gueules dans un double trescheur fleuronné et contre-fleuronné du même. (Wijnbergen n° 1272, Adam Even).


1275 Arms: Le roy d’Escoce, d’or un lion rampant et un borde floretté de gulez. (Walford’s Roll C11, Cl 15, Cd 32. Brault.) 


House of Norway








Great Seal appointed for the Government of the Realm 1290-‘92


Obv.: St. Andrew crucified on a cross saltire. L.: ANDREA : SCOTIS : DVX : ESTO : COMPATRIOTIS.

Rev.: Arms:: Lion within a double tressure flory counterflory. L.: SIGILLVM SCOCIE DEPVTATVM REGIMINI REGNI. [2]


House of Balliol


Arms of Balliol


Arms: Gules, an escutcheon Argent voided of the field


On the seal of John Balliol there are on the administration side (obverse) the arms of Balliol. These are documented as follows:

John: Ba23: Johan Baylol, de gules od un faus escuchun de argent; Bb23: Joan de Baylol, de gules od un faus escocheon argent. Hugh: Ba 24: Huwe de Bailol, autel a un escu­chun de azur a un lion de argent corone or; Bb24: Huwe de Bayloll, ut in margine. Eustace C115: Eustace de Bali­oll, gulez a un faux escocheon d'argent. Cl142 Eustache de Bailiol, de goule a un faus eskochin d'argent; Cd75: Eustasche de Baylyoll, gules a une faus eskochun argent. Alexander: D130 Munsire Alisander de Bailol, l'escu de gules a un escuchun d'argent percé; H28: Sir Alexan­dre de Bayloylfs porte d'argent ou ung faus eschue de gulez. K v579: Mes Allisandres de Bailoel,/ke a tout bien faire gettoit le oel,/Blan­che banier avoit el champ/Al rouge escu voidié du champ. [3]


í In England and on the continent the personal or the family-arms of the ruler were often marshalled in a quarterly or in an impaled with the arms of the realm. This fashion was not adopted in Scotland and no marshalled arms of any Scottish king are known before the rule of Queen Mary. Instead, the ancient arms of the Kings from the House of Dunkeld were adopted by the House of Stewart as their own.







Seal: Enthroned king between the arms of Balliol and Galloway. On the reverse John on horseback with the arms of Scotland. L.: IOHANNES DEI GRACIA REX SCOTTORUM


Arms of Galloway


Arms: Azure, a crowned lion rampant Argent langued Gules






Seal of Edward I King of England, regent (1296-1306).


Seal for the governance of Scotland. Rev.: Arms: England. (No arms of Scotland).


In about 1295 Sir Robert de Brus, Earl of Carrick (1253-1304), exchanged 5½ acres of land in Hatfield Broad Oak for 5¾ acres held by Hatfield Priory (D/DBa T1/4).  Brus’s seal survives on this deed and shows a saltire, with a lion above. 


Seal of Robert de Brus (1295)


Arms: [Or] a saltire and a chief [Gules) charged with a lion passant guardant [Or].


The secretum or private seal of Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, the father of the King, appended to the homage-deed extorted by Edward I. from the Scottish nobles


The arms of the count of Carrick

in Balliol Roll 1330-‘40


1296 Secret seal of Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick jure uxoris


Image: Lion passant guardant. L.: secretvm secretorvm. 


House of Bruce


Or, a saltire and a chief Gules


Robert I






Seal of Majesty: Seated crowned ruler with floral sceptre. His throne decorated with dragon’s heads. L.: ROBERTVS DEOR [....] REX SCOTTORVM

Equestrian Seal: Crowned rider with arms of Scotland. L.:  As previous.


David II





Seal of Majesty: Crowned ruler with floral sceptre, seated on a dragon’s throne. L.: DAVID DEI GRACIA REX SCOTTORUM.

Equestrian seal: Arms: On shield, horseclothes and aillettes: Lion within a tressure flory counterflory. L.: DAVID DEI GRACIA REX SCOTTORUM.


Royal arms of Scotland

in the Armorial Bellenville fol. 11.











Royal arms of Scotland

in Gelre Armorial, fol. 64, n° 679. 1360 ca

Arms: Scotland.

Crest: On a helmet lambrequined Bruce (Or, a saltire and a chief Gules), a crown enclosing a hill proper a crowned lion sejant Gules in his dexter a sword upright proper. 

L.: die conīc vā scotlāt.


The king of Scotland on horseback

According to AnthonyWagner [4].


The picture is a reconstruction of King David II (1329-’71) in full martial dress (as no crest is known from Robert I)


House of Balliol

Edward Balliol

counter king 1332-1356



Seal: Enthroned king between the arms of Galloway and Balliol. On the reverse Edward on horseback crowned and with the arms of Scotland on shield and horse-clothes. L.: EDWARDVS DEI GRACIA REX SCOTORVM


House of Stewart


Knights from the House of Stewart used the arms of Scotland with marks of cadency added for difference.



Alexander Stuart, Count of Ross:  (†1406)

Arms: Scotland, a fess chequy Azure and Argent over all

Crest: On a helmet lambrequined Gules a hog’s head per fess Gules and chequy Argent and Azure between two trunks and their foliage Vert



John Stuart, Count of Carrick (†1406)

Arms: Scotland with a label of three Argent, the pendants chequy Argent and Azure.

Crest: On a helmet lambrequined Gules with a wreath Argent and Azure, a lion’s head Gules between a pair of wings Or.


John became King of Scotland as Robert III in 1390.


David Stuart, Count of Strathern (†1391) Æ

Arms: Scotland, a chevron Gules and a fess chequy Azure and Argent over all.


Robert II





Seal of Majesty:  Seated ruler with sceptre between the arms of Scotland. L.: ROBERTVS DEI GRACIA REX SCOTTORVM.

Equestrian seal: Arms: On shield and horsecloth: Scotland. Crest: Lion passant guardant. L.: ROBERTVS DEI GRACIA REX SCOTTORVM. (Gray Birch n° 28)


Robert III






Seal of Majesty:  Seated crowned ruler with sceptre. L.: SIGILLVM ROBERTI DEI GRACIA REX SCOTTOR.

Equestrian seal: Arms: Scotland. Crest: Crown. L.: SIGILLVM ROBERTI DEI GRACIA REX SCOTTOR


James I

*1394- †1437




Gold demi of 9 shillings


Obv.: Crowned arms of Scotland in lozenge. L.: IACOBVS DEI GRACIA REX S.

Rev.: Cross saltire. L.: X SALVVM FAC POPVLUM TVVM DN


Robert Stuart, Duke of Albany, Governor of Scotland ( 1420): Scotland & Albany: 1/4: 1&4: Or a lion rampant gu; 2&3: Or, a fess chequy 3´7 azure and argent, and a label of 3 gu. (nos. 34/35) 

Murdoch Stuart, Regent of Scotland (1425): same as prec. (nos. 36/37)


James II



1440 ca

Mannequin: Coat of arms and horse-clothes: Scotland.

Crest: A crowned lion Gules keeping a sword upright issuant from a crown.

L.: Le Roy Descoße. Menemo impune Laceßit. In defens. [5]


Æ See illustration in the head of this essay.


1440 ca Arms: d’or au lion de gu. dans un trecheur fleuronné de même, C.: un lion de gu. tenant une epée d’arg. assis sur une cour. d’or, cap. d’arg. (courtoisie) L.: scotlant. Bergshammer n° 15.


Arms: as before: cap. d’or. L.: die coninc van scotlant. Den ouden helm (The ancient helmet): C.: une tête d’homme coiffé dun chaperon d’or garni de 5 grelots, cour et cap de même. Bergshammer n° 2071.


1455 ca Arms: Scotland Crest: Crowned lion sejant. (Countal palace, Merano. Eleonore, een dochter van James II was gehuwd met Hertog Sigismund van Oostenrijk-Tirol)


James III



In 1471 there was a curious attempt of the Scottish Parliament to displace the tressure. An Act was passed in that year, for some hitherto unexplained reason, by which it was ordained  that in tyme to cum thar suld be na double tresor about his armys, but that he suld ber hale armys of the lyoun without ony mair.” [-] Like many other Acts, however, it never seems to have been carried into effect; [-] [6]


The arms of the King of Scotland in Conrad von Grünebergs Wappenbuch, 1483


James IV



Coin of James IV


Crowned arms and square cross between four crowns, charged with a saltire on the reverse


James V



Gold crown of James V


Crowned arms between two saltires and square cross between four thistle-flowers on the reverse.




Queen of Scotland 1542-1567

¥ Francis II of France 1558-†1560

Queen of France 1559-1560

¥ Henry Stewart 1565-’67

¥ James Hepburn 1567-’78


Coin of Mary Stuart


Crowned arms between two thistles. L.: MARIA & HENRICS DEI GRA R&R SCOTORUM


Arms of Mary and Francis II

Francis II who married Mary Stuart, queen of Scotland in 1558 united his arms as a Dauphin of Viennois with those of his wife. But, as she was a queen by her own right and Francis became king of Scotland juxe uxoris, both bore the same arms. The conventions were that the arms of France and Scotland were united under the same crown. For that reason the arms became impaled of a quarterly of France and Viennois and Scotland.

Dauphin of France and Queen of Scotland (24.04.1558-10.07.1559)




On the secret seal and on the medal struck at the occasion of the wedding there is a


1. 1|2: 1. ¼ France and Viennois; 2. Scotland, crowned with a closed crown.


2. 1|2: I. ½ 1. ¼ France/Viennois; 2. Scotland; II. Scotland.


Dauphin of Viennois and Queen of Scotland after the death of  Mary of England 17.11.1558 until 10.07.1559:


Indeed Francis and Mary were King and Queen of Scotland since their wedding on 24 April 1558 but on 17 November 1558 Mary, queen of England died. Her half sister Elizabeth (I) succeeded her  but for the Church of Rome the only legitime successor could only be Mary Stuart, then queen of Scotland and dauphine of Viennois. Mary however did not claim this right immediately. C.-W. Scott Giles ascribes in The Romance of Heraldry a quarterly of a counterquarterly of Viennois and France and Scotland with an escutcheon over all of a quarterly of France and England.

This became for Mary the same but impaled with her quarterly of Scotland and counterquarterly of France-England.


3. ¼: 1& 4: ¼ France/Viennois; 2&3: Scotland. In nombril point: ¼ France/England



4. 1|2: I. ½: 1. ¼ France/Viennois; 2. Scotland. In nombril point ¼: France/England dimidiated. (Francis II);  II ¼: 1&4 Scotland; 2&3 ¼ France and England. (Mary).


King of France and Queen of Scotland, pretenders of England (10.07.1559-05.12.1560)



5. Arms: 1|2: I ½ France/England; II. Scotland (Cat. of Seals in the British Museum n° 18120)





6. ¼ France/Scotland

7. 1|2  France/Scotland [7]


James VI / I


King of England 1603-1625




Union of England and Scotland



James I (VI)


King of England 1603-1625


After the union of Scotland and England the royal arms for Scotland became a quarterly of Scotland, England and Ireland, on the place of honour in the first and fourth of Scotland.



Arms: ¼: 1&4: Scotland; 2 ¼: France and England; 3. Ireland.

Crown: A royal crown of three fleurs de lis and two square crosses closed with four hoops.


Charles I




Arms: ¼: 1&4: Scotland; 2 ¼: France and England; 3. Ireland.

Crown: A royal crown of three fleurs de lis and two square crosses closed with four hoops


Charles II



Covenanter government was outraged by Parliament's execution of Charles I in 1649, carried out in the face of their strongest objections. No sooner did news of his death reach the north than his son was proclaimed King Charles II in Edinburgh. Oliver Cromwell invaded Scotland in 1650, and defeated the Scottish army in battles at Dunbar and Worcester. Scotland was then occupied by an English force under George Monck throughout the Interregnum and incorporated into the Puritan-governed Commonwealth


Protectorate & Commonwealth



From 1652 to 1660, Scotland was part of the Commonwealth and Protectorate, under English control but gaining equal trading rights.




Oliver Cromwell

Lord Protector 1653-1658


Arms of the Lord Protector for Scotland 1656


In the time of the Protectorate the royal arms for Scotland were abolished and replaced by the arms saltire of Scotland charged with an escutcheon Cromwell: Sable, a lion rampant Argent. They are on his equestrian seal dated 1656 with the legend: OLIVARIUS DEI GRA REIP ANGLIÆ, SCOTIÆ ET  HIBERNIÆ &c PROTECTOR  


After his re-installation as a Lord Protector in 1657 his arms became a quarterly of England, Scotland and Ireland with his arms Cromwell in nombril point. The arms are crowned with a royal crown which had been offered to him by the parliament but which he had refused in a speech on 13 April 1657 in which he made clear that God's providence had spoken against the office of king: “I would not seek to set up that which Providence hath destroyed and laid in the dust, and I would not build Jericho again”.

This crown differs from the crown of the Stuarts in that there are three square crosses and two fleurs de lis are visible instead of three fleurs de lis and two square crosses.




Richard Cromwell

Lord Protector 1658-1659


The same arms were used by Richard

Obverse of the Great Seal of Richard Cromwell





Arms for Scotland 1659

As in the achievement of the Commonwealth





After the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Scotland regained its separate status and institutions, while the centre of political power remained in London

Upon its collapse, and with the restoration of Charles II, Scottish independence returned. Scotland regained its parliament, but the English Navigation Acts prevented the Scots engaging in what would have been lucrative trading with England's growing colonies. The formal frontier between the two countries was re-established, with customs duties which, while they protected Scottish cloth industries from cheap English imports, also denied access to English markets for Scottish cattle or Scottish linens.


House of Stuart

Charles II



James II        




Arms: ¼: 1&4: Scotland; 2 ¼: France and England; 3. Ireland.

Crown: A royal crown of three square crosses and two fleurs de lis closed with four hoops

Order: The collar and jewel of the Order of the Thistle, revived in 1687.


Head of a Proclamation

 declaring William and Mary King and Queen of England to be King and Queen of Scotland.

Edinburgh, 1689.


William III & Mary



After the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89, in which James VII was deposed by his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange in England, Scotland accepted them under the 1689 Claim of Right



Arms: ¼: 1&4: Scotland; 2 ¼: France and England; 3. Ireland. And in nombril point Nassau: Azure, strewn with billets a lion rampant Or

Crown: A royal crown of three square crosses and two fleurs de lis closed with four hoops


William III of Orange Nassau




Arms: ¼: 1&4: Scotland; 2 ¼: France and England; 3. Ireland. And in nombril point Nassau: Azure, strewn with billets a lion rampant Or

Crown: A royal crown of three square crosses and two fleurs de lis closed with four hoops


James VIII


Pretender 1701-1766


James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales (the Chevalier de St George, "The King Over the Water", "The Old Pretender" or "The Old Chevalier"; 10 June 1688 – 1 January 1766) was the son of James II of England (James VII of Scotland). As such, he claimed the English, Scottish and Irish thrones (as James III of England and Ireland and James VIII of Scotland) from the death of his father in 1701, when he was recognised as king of England, Scotland and Ireland by his cousin Louis XIV of France.



Arms: ¼: 1&4: Scotland; 2 ¼: France and England; 3. Ireland. And in nombril point Nassau: Azure, strewn with billets a lion rampant Or

Crown: A royal crown of three square crosses and two fleurs de lis closed with four hoops





Great Britain






Royal arms of Great Britain


The political union of Scotland and England by Treaty of Union as the Kingdom of Great Britain, came into force on 1 May 1707.

Article 1 of the Treaty states "That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain."

As a consequence the Kingdom of Scotland ceased to exist. The English and Scottish parliaments were replaced by a combined Parliament of Great Britain, but it sat in Westminster and largely continued English traditions without interruption. Forty-five Scots were added to the 513 members of the House of Commons and 16 Scots to the 190 members of the House of Lords. It was also a full economic union, replacing the Scottish systems of currency, taxation and laws regulating trade.

In spite of the fact that no political entity named Scotland did exist after the treaty any more, its heraldic emblem nevertheless remained in use as a quarter in the royal arms and the royal achievement of Great Britain.


House of Hanover

George I



Book stamp of Edinburgh Library


In the arms on this book stamp preference is given to the arms of Scotland over the arms of England in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter the arms of Scotland replace the arms of Brunswick and the arms of Brunswick the arms of Luneburg (!).


George II


George III



Probably because of the unrest caused by Bonnie Prince Charles and the subsequent defeat of the Scots at Culloden the Scotch version of the royal arms seems to have been abandoned.


Great Britain and Ireland



After the Act of Union creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801, the royal coat of arms of Scotland was restored. Also a royal achievement of Great Britain for use in Scotland was created.


George III

King of Great Britain and Ireland 1801-1820


Book stamp of Edinburgh Library

The escutcheon with a ducal crown

Book stamp of Edinburgh Library

The escutcheon with a royal crown


George IV


William IV




Edward VII



House of Saxony-Coburg and Gotha / Windsor (1917)

George V



United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland



George V


Edward VIII


George VI


Elizabeth II



The Royal Standard of the United Kingdom for Scotland


The State


Æ To Part 3



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© Hubert de Vries 2015-01-26



[1] Most seals from Gray-Birch, Walter de: History of Scottish Seals. Stirling & London, 1905.

[2] Pp. 32-33, figs. 14 & 15

[3] Brault, Gerard J.: Eight Thirteenth-Century Rolls of Arms in French and Anglo-Norman Blazon. The Pennsylvania State University Press. University Park and London, 1973. 148 pp.

[4] Wagner, A.: Historic Heraldry of Britain. Oxford Univ. Press, 1939. London, 1972

[5] Grand  Armorial de la Toison d’Or. Paris, Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal  Ms.4790.

[6] Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles: The Art of Heraldry. An Encyclopaedia of Armory. Arno Press, 1904. p. 99.

[7] Pinoteau, H.: Vingt-cinq ans d’etudes dynastiques. Les armes des reines de France p. 52