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Scottish Flower – Thistle or Bluebells

a group of purple flowers

There is a debate in Scotland of what our true national flower is, some would have you believe that it’s the Scottish bluebell whilst others stand firm that it’s the thistle.

For me, I always go with the thistle, not just something that grows but is symbolised all over this land, looking at a thistle makes you think of the wilds and ruggedness of the Scottish landscape and how this bonnie wee flower can grown in the middle of all that for me sums up this country. There is also the question of why, why would Scotland choose a weed, a wild flower, something that we don’t grow ourselves because it looks beautiful but something that grows where it wants and how it wants because that wildness reminds us of our country and makes it beautiful or maybe its more than that. There are numerous folk tales in Scotland of why we choose to adopt this wildflower, my personal Favourite goes all the way back to one of our Celtic kings, Alexander III of Scotland.

a train crossing a bridge over a body of water

On the 2nd of October in the year 1263 there was a decisive battle between the kingdoms of Scotland and Norway. King alexander the 3 rd of Scotland would lead his Scots against the Viking hordes of Haakon Haakonsson king of Norway, a battle that would decide the fate of the western isles of Scotland and bring and end to years of Viking rule, finally the scourge of the Vikings was over however it is said on the eve of this battle the Vikings led by Haakon found out where the Scots were camped and decided to plan an ambush, they would wait for the cover of darkness and travel through the wee small hours towards the scot camp until only a grassy meadow would separate the Vikings from early victory.

Trying to move stealthily and reduce noise to a minimum the Viking soldiers would remove their boots to creep across the meadow but they wouldn’t see some small thistles that had shrunk down as they came to the end of their life, one of the barefoot Vikings would step on the thistle and let out a yelp so loud it would alert Alexander and his Scots who would make hasty retreat.

After securing victory against the Vikings once and for all King Alexander was thankful to the wee flower that saved his army from certain defeat and would adopt it as the true.

Written by Steven A.

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