Author Topic: Scottish Crown Jewels  (Read 5464 times)

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Offline ChristineM

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Scottish Crown Jewels
« on: May 01, 2007, 01:35:51 PM »
Scattered  around the Forum are many references to priceless, matchless jewels - none more so than those belonging to the British Crown and to the Windsors.   I thought it might interest some readers to discover that Scotland has its own crown jewels - far older and, in their own way, more historic than those known throughout the world, which are on public view in the Tower of London.   In fact the Scottish crown jewels are said to be the 'oldest in Christendom'.

The Crown Jewels of Scotland - or, as they are popularly termed - 'The Honours of Scotland' -  have a colourful, dramatic history and were only restored to the Crown Room in the Castle thanks to the sleuthing of Sir Walter Scott.

The Scottish Honours comprise a crown, a sword and a sceptre.   The crown is created from Scottish gold.   The main structure of the crown is made from the gold which was, in great haste, moulded into a circlet to crown the head of Robert the Bruce in 1306.   As with all Scottish Kings, King Robert was corwned at the ancient Palace of Scone (pronounced skoon).   However, his coronation was different.   All previous Scottish kings were crowned sitting on a stone - known today as the Stone of Destiny.   In 1296, King Edward I ('The Hammer of the Scots') stole the stone which was believed to have mystical powers and which he perceived as a symbol of Scottish sovereignty.    (More on the Stone of Scone/Destiny later)

Almost two hundred years elapsed when, in 1540, the crown was refashioned and worn by King James IV at the coronation of his wife, Mary of Guise.   They were the parents of Mary Queen of Scots.   The Scottish crown has remained in the same form to the present day.   A gold circlet, with gold arcs rising to simple cross.   The cap is fashioned from red velvet.   Like the gold, the gems which bejewel the crown come from Scottish land and river bed -  amythysts and fresh water pearls.   22 jewels were added to the original 20 precious stones during the remodelling.

The sword was gifted to James IV by Pope Julius II in 1507.   At four feet six inches long, it has an elaborately carved handle with engravings of Sts Peter and Paul.   It is the sceptre which is the oldest of the Honours.   It too was a papal gift, presented to James the Fourth in 1494.

It was at the coronation of the infant Mary, Queen of Scots at Stirling Castle in 1543, that all three 'Honours' were brought together for the first time.   The Honours were only used at the coronation of a further three monarchs before they disappeared.

tsaria

       




Offline bell_the_cat

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Re: Scottish Crown Jewels
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2007, 06:21:15 PM »
Yes, the Honours of Scotland have a dramatic history, about which Tsaria will no doubt tell us presently!  :) ;D
Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow. (Mark Twain)

Offline Arleen

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Re: Scottish Crown Jewels
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2007, 06:28:22 PM »
Miss Bell the cat.....if you had read what Tsaria had written you would know that the Crown Jewels and the Honours are one and the same.

Thank you so much Tsaria for posting the wonderful info about the Scottish Crown Jewels.  Next time I get to Edinburgh I will be sure to look them up at the Castle.  You are right in that mostly we only hear about the "other" Crown Jewels.

I love this kind of info.
Arleen

Offline ChristineM

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Re: Scottish Crown Jewels
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2007, 12:36:15 PM »
Thanks Arleen.   'Bell' is Scottish and is perfectly familiar with either term.   I am sure he read what I wrote and I would be surprised if he is not more familiar with the history than me.   

Scots, probably prefer to refer to their crown jewels as the 'Honours of Scotland' because today they represent our nation's sovereignty - something we regard as honourable.   Following her coronation in 1953, Elizabeth - the first of Scotland - symbolically laid her hand on the 'Honours'.

I have found a much better description of the Honours than my rather miserable attempt.   Perhaps someone would be kind enough to post a photograph.

Extracted from 'The Monarchy Today' -

'The Honours of Scotland are the oldest regalia in the British Isles.

'The crown, the sword and the sceptre date from the late 15th and early 16th century, during the reigns of James IV and James V the grandfather and father of Mary, Queen of Scots.

'According to tradition, the silver gilt sceptre was a gift in 1494 from Pope Alexander VI to James IV, as a mark of papal respect for Scotland as a 'special daughter' of the Holy See.

'Remodelled and lengthened in 1538, the sceptre's finial features small figures of the Virgin and Child, St James and St Andrew within Gothic canopies, flanked by stylised dolphins (symbolic of Christ's church).   The sceptre is topped by a polished globe of rock crystal.

'The Sword of State was another generous papal gift, presented to James IV in 1597 from Julius II (who commissioned Michaeolangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel).   Almost 1.4 metres long, the silver gilt handle is decorated with oak leaves and acorns (symbols of the risen Christ) and at the bottom of the handle are two stylised oak leaves overlapping the blade.

'The blade is etched with the figures of ST Peter and St Paul and Pope Julius's inscription.   According to tradition, the break in the blade is due to the sword being snapped in two in 1652 so that it could be smuggled away from Cromwell and his troops.

'The sword has a scabbard of wood covered in dark red velvet and mounted with silver gilt, and a belt of woven silk and gold thread decorated with the arms of Pope Julius.   The sword was subsequently used in the ceremonial connected with the Order of the Thistle, until the 3ooth anniversary of the order in 1987.

'The Crown of Scotland was made ion its present form for James V, refashioned in 1540 from a damaged and lighter crown, by an Edinburgh goldsmith, John Mosman.   James wore it to his consort's coronation in the same year in the abbey church of Holyrood.

'The circlet at the base is made from Scottish gold, encrusted with 22 gem stones and 20 precious stones taken from the previous crown.   Freshwater pearls from Scotland's rivers were also used.   (tbc)

tsaria