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Thistle make you think

Updated: Nov 17, 2020


Have you ever wondered why a prickly weed is such a well-known emblem of Scotland? Looking through some photos on my phone , I found this one and decided I should find out. Maybe you already know the story? If not, let me share it with you...


In 1263, the King of Norway and his Viking men tried to conquer the Scots in the Battle of Largs. Legend has it, that in a misguided attempt not to wake the sleeping Scots warriors, they went barefoot. Unfortunately, one of the men stood on the purple, prickly plants, and awakened the enemy with his shrieks of pain. From then on, the purple thistle became known as the Guardian thistle, and a symbol widely used and associated with Scotland. A motto often associated with the thistle is "Nemo Me Impune Lacessit", meaning no-one provokes me with impunity.


This interesting, and comical legend, I had not expected. Unsurprisingly, there's no evidence of its accuracy. In fact, since there are many varieties of thistle, how can we be sure which one bravely took on the Vikings?


As well as the Scottish thistle, there are other varieties found around the world. I doubt the one in my photo is a Scots thistle, (since the picture was taken in Iasi, Romania), but as a Scot, in Romania on holiday at the time, I liked to believe it was. I enjoy finding the things in life that connect us as humans, which seems ever more important in present times. Upon seeing that famous weed in such an unexpected place, my home country felt connected to the country where my husband was born.


I'd be interested to learn the history of other symbols and emblems from around the world. Please share in the comments if you have any to add.


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