The Scottish Crown

This crown, which measures 21 cm in diameter, was remodelled by order of James V in 1540 by the goldsmith John Mosman. The difference in carat between the arches and the circlet indicates that parts of the crown of James IV (1488-1513) were probably used.

The circlet is of highly polished gold, and its upper edge is adorned with a wave-shaped band. Originally this band was decorated with an alternating pattern of diamonds and blue enamel. Now, however, there are only eight diamonds left. From the circlet rise ten fleurs-de-lis alternating with ten crosses fleury. These are of French craftsmanship and are believed to have been produced - like the orb and the cross patée - during a journey to Paris that James V undertook in 1536.

The circlet is set with nine carbuncles, four jacinths, four amethysts, two white topazes, two rock crystals (foiled) and another white topaz with yellow foil behind. These stones are cut or polished in various ways. In the Middle Ages these stones were of much greater value than nowadays. Even more significantly, magical and medical powers were ascribed to them.

The arches are fastened on the back of the crosses fleury and slightly depressed in the centre, thus clearly making the Scottish Crown a royal as opposed to an imperial crown (the arches of an imperial crown are not depressed). Above the point of intersection of the arches rests the orb topped by a cross patée. The orb is enamelled in blue and decorated with golden stars, which is rather special because, except for this crown, this can only be seen on the Swedish and Norwegian Crowns. The orb is surrounded by four radial bands and the equatorial band. The cross patée is enamelled in black and adorned with a golden leaf-shaped ornament and seven oriental pearls. The small golden rosettas on the pearls cover the piercings.

The bonnet is of crimson silk velvet. It is adorned on each of the four quarters with a large oriental pearl set on a gold ornament delicately enamelled in blue, white, red and green. The edge of the bonnet is trimmed with ermine, which is visible beneath the circlet.

(Rebecca Jähner M.A.)