Flower of Scotland

Unofficial national anthem of Scotland
LyricsRoy Williamson, 1966–1967
MusicRoy Williamson, 1966—1967
Audio sample

"Flower of Scotland" (Scottish Gaelic: Flùr na h-Alba, Scots: Flouer o Scotland) is commonly used as the unofficial national anthem of Scotland. It was written sometime in the mid-1960s by folk musician Roy Williamson, and its lyrics focus primarily on the Wars of Scottish independence and Robert the Bruce, where it refers to Robert the Bruce, who was King of Scots, secured victory over Edward II, King of England, during the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The song's basic theme is said to "protect the country and sending the English King home to think twice about invading Scotland again".[1]


The song was composed in the mid-1960s by Roy Williamson of the folk group the Corries. It was first heard publicly in a 1967 BBC television series, where it did not yet include the third 'we can still rise now' verse.[2] The words refer to the victory of the Scots, led by Robert I, over Edward II of England at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Although there is no official national anthem of Scotland, "Flower of Scotland" is one of a number of songs which are used, along with the older "Scotland the Brave".[3]

The song was composed and is sung in English, with one Scots word ("Tae" for "To").[4] It has been translated into Scots.[5]

Popular use

Sporting events

Flower of Scotland being performed and played prior to the 2017 mid-year rugby union international Australia v Scotland

The song has been used as an anthem by the Scotland rugby union team, ever since the winger, Billy Steele, encouraged his team-mates to sing it on the British Lions tour of South Africa in 1974.[6] The song was adopted as the pre-game anthem for the 1990 Five Nations Championship, first non-officially for the initial home game against France,[7] then for the deciding match between Scotland and England at Murrayfield, which Scotland won 13–7 to win the Grand Slam.[8][9]

The Scottish Football Association adopted "Flower of Scotland" as its pre-game national anthem in 1997[10] although it was first used by them in 1993.[11] Usually only the first and third verses are sung. The most common shouted interjections are "'Gainst who?" and "Bastards".

Commonwealth Games

The song was used as the victory anthem of Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, replacing "Scotland the Brave". This trend continued to the Commonwealth Games in 2014 where it was again Team Scotland's anthem and was sung following a Scottish gold medal. It was sung four times when Team Scotland won four gold medals in the opening day.[12]


At the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, the song was sung at Edinburgh Castle by 53 Scottish children selected from schools across Scotland.[13]

Official anthem

In July 2006, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted an online poll (publicised by Reporting Scotland) in which voters could choose a national anthem from one of five candidates.[14] 10,000 people took part in the poll, in which "Flower of Scotland" came out the winner with 41% of the votes.[15]

On 13 January 2015, the Scottish Parliament heard evidence from a member of the public, Chris Cromar, who had brought forward a petition to the parliament for consideration on an agreed national anthem for Scotland. Cromar had, through the petition, called for the Scottish Government to formally recognise and adopt "Flower of Scotland" as the Scottish national anthem.

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) responded to a written request from the Scottish Parliament regarding the petition, whereby they stated that they believed the matter of agreeing a national anthem for Scotland would be "more appropriate for the 35,000 members of the Scotland Supporter's Club members". The SFA conducted a poll amongst its members and audiences on its social media platforms, with "Flower of Scotland" achieving a narrow victory. Despite this, the SFA alluded to the matter that the narrowing victory suggested "some food for thought" over what the national anthem should be, with "Scotland the Brave" retaining an affinity amongst Scotland's football supporters.[16]

On 17 March 2015, the Scottish Parliament officially closed the consideration of the petition under Rule 15.7, claiming that "this is not something that should be led by the Scottish Government but is likely to be determined informally over time". MSP Angus MacDonald said in a speech to the Scottish Parliament about the petition that "given the position of the Scottish Government, and given that there is still a considerable amount of debate outside as to what the national anthem should be, we should close the petition reluctantly and allow that debate to continue".[17]

Other uses

Paris Saint-Germain fans sing the chant "Ô Ville Lumière" ("City of Light") to the tune of Flower of Scotland.[18] The song was featured on the 1983 album 'A Sense of Freedom' by the Wolfe Tones.[19]

David Tennant’s character Crowley sings the song in episode 3 of the second season of Good Omens. [20]

See also


  1. ^ "Scotland's National Anthem: What is the Scottish National Anthem and why was it chosen? Lyrics and origins". The Scotsman. Retrieved 27 April 2024.
  2. ^ The Corries website Archived 29 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine – (visited 28 August 2007)
  3. ^ Andrew Black (24 May 2011). "Will Scotland ever have a national anthem?". BBC.
  4. ^ The Corries Complete Songbook; 1990, p11.
  5. ^ "The Corries - Flower of Scotland lyrics + English (Scots) translation".
  6. ^ SONGS OF THE SIX NATIONS Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ English, Tom (3 February 2011). The Grudge: Two Nations, One Match, No Holds Barred. Penguin Random House. p. 131. ISBN 9780224083218 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ Bath, Richard (ed.) The Scotland Rugby Miscellany (Vision Sports Publishing Ltd, 2007 ISBN 1-905326-24-6), p. 14
  9. ^ "The Perfect Rugby Anthem – Flower of Scotland!" WalesOnline, 7 February 2009 (visited 26 May 2011)
  10. ^ "BBC Sport Academy – The Flower of Scotland". BBC Sport. 23 January 2003. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
  11. ^ "Why SFA president wants to scrap Flower of Scotland 'dirge'". The Herald (Scotland). 3 June 2007.
  12. ^ "Glasgow 2014: Scotland open Games by winning four golds". BBC Sport.
  13. ^ "London 2012: Scottish choir sings for opening ceremony". BBC News. 11 July 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  14. ^ "Flower of Scotland is first choice in RSNO anthem poll". The Herald. Glasgow. 3 July 2006. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  15. ^ "Background Info". The Scottish Parliament. 11 May 2014. Retrieved 20 September 2022.
  16. ^ "Response to Petition" (PDF). www.parliament.scot. Scottish Football Association. Retrieved 18 February 2024.
  17. ^ "Official Report". www.archive2021.parliament.scot. Scottish Parliament. 24 January 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2024.
  18. ^ "VIDÉOS - Les chants les plus emblématiques des supporters dans les stades de foot en France". France Bleu (in French). 20 April 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  19. ^ Maley, Wily (2016). Scotland and the Easter Rising Fresh Perspectives on 1916. Luath Press Limited.
  20. ^ "Good Omens Season 2 Soundtrack Guide – Every Song & when It Plays". Screen Rant. 29 July 2023.