This wonderful characterful unicorn is part of a fairytale Scottish relic commissioned by King James V. It has stood in the central courtyard of Linlithgow Palace since 1538, just one year after the young Scottish King married the sophisticated and beautiful French Mary of Guise.
It is covered in a wild and fantastical variety of mystical and mythical beasts, all linked to Scottish symbolism. Built with love and magic, lions and bears vie for space with mermaids and unicorns, and sweep you off into tales as old as the hills.
There is such vitality in these old stone relics that it’s easy to imagine them getting up and walking off across the cobbled square.
Despite the cobwebs in his mouth, it was only at the last full moon that this old lion padded across the grass down to the loch outside the palace walls, for a drink of moon filled water.
And only last month this feisty deer caught the sun in her horns and rode through the worlds edges and on into the otherworld, which lies just beneath our feet, a heartbeat away. She has secrets to share, but you have to know how to ask.
So fierce that he has to be chained, the unicorn is restless, longing to stretch his legs and pound his hooves across the green land of Scotland, ancient Albion, whose soul he holds.
And the deer who lights the path through the dark leafy Forrest is waiting to open the way to those who seek. Resting for now among the stone throng of creatures, it would take just one whispered word in his ear and a little drop of magic and desire. Your adventure into the forest of mysteries could begin on your next heartbeat.
But for now all is quiet, and this ancient stone relic sits peacefully holding its tales of wonder and magic safely in the centre of the old royal palace. Seat of the Stewart kings, Queen Margaret gave birth to her son, James V, here within these walls on 10 April 1512. He brought his beautiful French wife to live here and built her this fairytale fountain one year later. A love filled anniversary gift fit for a Queen, still beautiful nearly five hundred years later!
How fortunate that no one (at least not recently) got the idea to clean it, the green patina seems to be part of its story.
This post is just magical your descriptive words and the photos are just so clear I feel I can touch him!
Thank you so much, that’s great to hear
Absolutely bewitching!! Now I want to know those secrets! 🙂
Oh they are wonderful secrets indeed Madhu……delighted you enjoyed the post 🙂
I am intrigued…truly! 🙂
Anything in particular…..or just the whole fairytale fountain?
The whole fountain I think. I realise i don’t know much about your legends.
Your writing is wonderful…..it adds so much to your already beautiful images. 🙂
Love your story on this one Seonaid! Wonderful post beautifully written
Thank you Tina, it’s always lovely to hear from you. It was hard to choose just one relic….we’re sort of surrounded by them here 🙂
You are such a storyteller … thank you for including the history as well as your story of each part of the statue.
My pleasure…..I do like a bit of history woven through the stories 🙂
Great! Feel the pulse of history pass——from distant China.
These are fantastic – I love them 🙂
You have captured the magic of Linlithgow so perfectly. How wonderful to have been there in the past to witness all the various goings on. The stone monument almost acts as a time-travelling portal for our imaginations… 🙂
Thank you, it’s such a lovely history soaked place….and yes that fountain has seen a thing or two in its lifetime. Great fuel for the imagination as you say 🙂
What an amazing piece of work this is, Seonaid. I wish I’d made time to go in and see it. Next time, for definite. Love your fantasies 🙂
It’s quite an evocative ruin Jo, easy to imagine all the famous characters from its past looking out the now glass less windows…..and the views out across the loch are just beautiful…..but it’s this fairytale fountain which catches every time. Glad you enjoyed the fantasy 🙂
What a magnificent mythical tour you’ve given me today. Thank you! Places like this can’t be found in the relatively recently civilized place on earth where I live. Old relics don’t exist here.
I do love the deep layers of relics and history which can be found all across Europe….but I’m sure there are relics of sorts, and certainly tales and myths everywhere that people have been 🙂
Delighted you enjoyed this little taste of a few Scottish myths.
Wow! We adore this post! Really enjoyed your fairy tales as well 🙂
That’s great to hear, relics and fairy tales make a good combination I feel 🙂
I LOVE your history, tales, and pictures. My mind wonders what they are recreating up in the heavens or if some have returned to life. Scotland is rich with so much, as well as beauty. I enjoyed coming along for the ride. Thanks.
Thanks Gwynn, I got a bit swept away into the myths which swirl so readily across this piece of earth…..so many stories just waiting to be told 🙂
I always love to read your thoughts.
Truly a thing of beauty. Imagine all of the eyes that have gazed upon it and what the folks belonging to those eyes have thought. Evocative to be sure. Your ‘word pictures’ do the subject justice (more than). Thanks for showing us such a wonderful, unique, piece of the world. D
I know David, 500 years is a lot of people 🙂
Glad you liked the word pictures…..my imagination gets carried away rather easily at the sight of unicorns and winged deer!!
A great combination of words and visuals!
Delighted that you enjoyed the weaving…..those stone creatures are just so full of life, bursting with stories 🙂
Yes, I am always amazed at the skills involved in shaping things out of stones. There are several which sound like moving and talking, but somehow frozen in a cusp of time and preserved for posterity.
Isn’t that just one amazing sculpture Seonaid … and who better to take us on that magical descriptive journey around it 😉
Isn’t it beautiful, so fanciful and fresh and yet nearly 500 years old! Delighted you enjoyed the journey through the creatures…but truth be told there’s so much more to say 🙂
I really enjoyed this – and the photos are wonderful. Thanks! Peace to you . . .
So happy to hear that you enjoyed the mystical taste of this stone relic…..imagine how great it would look with the water flowing through it!
There are tales of it flowing with wine at times of victory and celebration……
It would be stunning! And a good spot to be under when the wine was flowing 😉 Peace . . .
Beautiful images, Seonaid. Your words really brought these mystical animals to life again. 🙂
Thanks so much, it’s lovely to hear that the weaving of words and images has a magical effect 🙂
Beautiful shots. The green patina on the statues makes them look even more as a relic should.
Indeed Colline, and even with the green patina of age I think the whole fountain looks so fresh…as though it was dreamed and carved just a few decades ago….not 500 years!
Pingback: Royal Relics
What a fantastical land with the little bear peeping down!
I know Gilly, and how cross and dissapproving does the man beside the bear look….there’s a story there for sure 🙂
Thank for for transporting me back in that wonderful way you have, Seonaid. It is a real gift. xx
Thanks Rachael, it’s always lovely to hear that the words worked their magic 🙂
Your images and writing invoke a combination of the stories of Alice in Wonderland and Narnia.
We do fairy tales quite well here 🙂
Native tales woven and rewoven over hundreds, even thousands of years, all the way back to our own aboriginal past. I can often find echoes which feel so familiar in your dreamtime tales….ancient roots and ties to the earth 🙂
Yes! Our Dreamtime stories are like fairy tales explaining things that ancient people had no scientific answers for. Things like giant kangaroos trapped under the ground and making earthquakes. They also contain the Law of community and land like a finger wagging, “don’t do this or else”. Our Indigeneity is not so unique – your history and making sense of circumstance and place is rich and vast. Challenge, hardship, cruelty, trauma, and displacement is there too, just as in ours.
That’s so true, and I love the underground kangaroo tale in your latest post. Here we might blame the Cailleach Bheur ( the ancient old blue woman of winter) dropping some rocks from her apron or her peat creel as she crosses the mountains 🙂