Scotland’s crown jewels - the Honours of Scotland

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  • Dunnottar Castle at the edge of the shore, Aberdeenshire
    Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire
  • Looking out to Edinburgh Castle from the Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh
    Looking out to Edinburgh Castle
  • The Honours of Scotland at Edinburgh Castle - image courtesy of Historic Scotland
    The Honours of Scotland at Edinburgh Castle - image courtesy of Historic Scotland
  • Looking over to Stirling Castle, Stirling
    Stirling Castle

The Honours of Scotland - Scotland's crown jewels - have been fought over for centuries, but are now safely ensconced in Edinburgh Castle.

Scotland’s crown jewels, known as the Honours of Scotland, are the oldest regalia in the British Isles. They comprise of a jewel encrusted crown, an elaborate sword and a sceptre, which all date from the 15th and 16th centuries.

The Honours have had a rather turbulent history. They were first used together to crown the infant Mary Queen of Scots at Stirling Castle in 1543 and were then used at the coronations of James VI in 1567, Charles I in 1633 and, the last sovereign to receive the Honours, Charles II in 1651.

These priceless objects were hastily hidden in the mid 17th century to avoid being destroyed as their English crown jewels had been at the hands of Oliver Cromwell. First they were taken to Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire, from where they were smuggled out during a siege and then buried a few miles away in Kinneff parish church for nine years until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

Following the restoration, they were used at sittings of the Scottish Parliament to represent the monarch (resident in London in 1603 following the Union of the Crowns).

After the Treaty of Union in 1707 removed Scotland's independent parliament, the Honours of Scotland were considered redundant and were duly locked away in a chest in Edinburgh Castle, where they were literally forgotten about for the next hundred or so years.

They did not come to light again until 1818 when, under pressure from Sir Walter Scott, a detailed search of the castle uncovered the box and they were discovered. They were hidden once again during the Second World War for fear of a Nazi invasion and have in total been buried three times.

Together with the Stone of Destiny, these symbols of Scottish nationhood are on permanent public display at Edinburgh Castle. Visit the castle and see the Honours for yourself.

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