The Scottish Thistle, Scotland's national emblem, was adopted by King James III (1460-1488) as the "Heraldic Emblem of Scotland" as a symbol of defense.
Legend has it that the Danes, barefooted sought to invade sleeping Scottish soldiers. One tread on a thistle and let out a cry of pain. This awoke the Scots and the defeated the invaders.
Mary, Queen of Scots, a skilled needleworker wove the thistle into many tapestries, wall hangings and bed coverings. Spending her last days in confinement in the England's Fotheringay Castle, she planted some thistles outside the castle shortly before her execution. It is said that the purple blossoms hang their heads in grief and are called "Queen Mary's tears"
The thistle matches the strength of the Scottish character. The Latin motto "Nemo me impune lacessit" (No one provokes me with impunity) appears on designs "A" and "G" of the pound coin issued by the British Royal Mint. The thistle design appears on the five pence piece, also in circulation in the United Kingdom.
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