The Honours of Scotland, also known as the Scottish Regalia and the Scottish Crown Jewels. There are three primary elements of the Honours of Scotland: the Crown, the Sceptre, and the Sword of State. These elements also appear on the crest of the royal coat of arms of Scotland.
The Crown of Scotland in its present form dates from 1540 when James V ordered the Edinburgh goldsmith John Mosman to refashion the original crown for his coronation in the same year at the abbey church of Holyrood.
The circlet at the base is made from Scottish gold and is believed to be the original circlet that was made for Robert the Bruce and his coronation on the 25 March 1306. The current crown is encrusted with 22 gemstones and 20 precious stones taken from the former crown of pre-1540. There are freshwater pearls from Scotland’s rivers that have been added to crown.
The Sceptre of Scotland was a gift from Pope Alexander VI to King James IV in 1494, and was remodelled and lengthened in 1536. It is made of silver gilt, and is topped by a finial with a polished Cairngorm with Scottish fresh water pearl on the very top.
The Sword of State of Scotland was also a gift; Pope Julius II presented it to James IV in 1507. The etched blade, measuring 4.5 feet in length and the silver gilt handle bears figures of oak leaves and acorns, the sword is an example of Italian craftsmanship. It was damaged in 1652 whilst being hidden from Oliver Cromwell’s troops, as it had to be broken in half to be properly concealed while it was being taken to safety along with the Sceptre and Crown.
Our Scottish Crown is one of the oldest in Europe, this depends on a number of factors, and however, the date of 1306 would be acceptable as the official starting point, with the connection to Bruce. Other European Crown jewels of monarchs are: the Iron Crown of Lombardy (9th century, now in Milan), the Imperial Regalia (10th century, now in Vienna), the Hungarian Crown (10th-11th century, now in Budapest), and the Bohemian Crown Jewels (1347, now in Prague). There is a seriously sad fact that the Scottish Crown would have been the oldest Crown in Europe if not the world if it had not been for King Edward I of England, when he destroyed the then Scottish Crown, in 1296 after he defeated the Scots at the battle of Dunbar, he pursued and caught the King of Scots, John Balliol, at Stracathro in Angus, riding into the church there on his great war-horse, where he humiliated Balliol almost beyond description, by striping him of his Crown and tossing the Scots Crown to his soldiers to play with and announcing that there was now no king in Scotland save himself. Whatever happened to the Crown of Scotland is any ones guess, for the Crown that Edward Longshanks had tossed to his soldiers would have dated back to Kenneth MacAlpin coronation in 843 AD, and most probably as far back as the early Pictish High King of Alba, or the early Scots of Dalriada at the very least. I strongly feel there would have been some element of both those Crowns in MacAlpin’s union of the Picts and Scots for his coronation as a show of unity of the two peoples, and what better way than a new Crown containing a combined fusion of gold or gemstones from both nations previous Crowns.
The regalia were last used at the coronation of Charles II in 1652. Prior to this event, Charles I had been executed by order of the Parliament of England and the monarch overthrown. Oliver Cromwell ordered almost all of the English regalia to be broken up or melted down, and would have done the same to the Scottish regalia. However, the Honours of Scotland were hidden, firstly in Dunnottar Castle, which was later besieged by Cromwell’s army, and from where the Honours were smuggled out in a washing basket or a baby basket; then hidden under the floor of Kinneff Parish Church, only to be recovered after The Restoration in 1660.
The Honours were taken to sittings of the Parliament of Scotland to represent the monarch until the Acts of Union 1707, when they were placed into a large chest and locked away in Edinburgh Castle. There they remained, almost forgotten, until 4 February 1818 when a group, including Sir Walter Scott and Sir Henry Jardine, set to recover the Honours. Following their discovery, they were put on public display in 1819 and have remained so ever since, with one exception when they were hidden during World War II for safekeeping, they are now in the Crown Room of Edinburgh Castle.
After Charles II, the Honours have never been used to crown Scottish sovereigns, therefore the current Queen Elizabeth II of England was not crowned Queen of Scots; she only held the Crown when she came up to Scotland after her coronation in England.
Alba gu bráth