The Scottish thistle has represented the country’s national pride for more than 500 years. It’s history, however, stretches back another two centuries when Scotland was a forgotten part of the Kingdom of Norway. A potential sale of the Western Isles and Kintyre rekindled Norse King Haakon IV’s interest in Caledonia.
Late in the summer of 1263 a battalion of Haakon’s Norsemen sailed to for the western Scottish coast to subdue the wild Scots. Fall weather and terrible storms forced the Norse fleet to land on the beach at Largs in Ayrshire. According to legend, the invaders planned an attack under the cover of darkness. Removing their footwear to better surprise the sleeping Scots, the Norse warriors slipped silently through the cloudless night until one of Haakon’s soldiers stumbled across a patch of prickly thistles. His cries of pain woke the sleeping clansmen. Alerted to the approaching army, the Scots rallied and drove off the invaders.
In the aftermath, Scottish King Alexander III negotiated the Treaty of Perth in July 1266. The terms granted Alexander nominal control over the Hebrides and Mann.
Today the Caledonian thistle — with its signature blend of purple and green — represents the proud people and culture of Scotland. Many of our favorite vintage and antique treasures prominently feature the prickly bloom, often topped with an amethyst stone. Our own silver work includes modernized versions of the thistle—always a customer favorite.
Looking for the perfect gift for the Scottish lad or lass in your life? Check out our full collection of Scottish thistle jewelry and accessories here.