Flower of Scotland

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This article is about the song. For the national flower of Scotland, see thistle.
Flower of Scotland
Flag of Scotland.svg

Unofficial anthem of  Scotland
Lyrics Roy Williamson, 1965
Music Roy Williamson, 1965
"Flower of Scotland"
Song by The Corries
Released 1965
Writer(s) Roy Williamson
Composer(s) Roy Williamson

Flower of Scotland is a Scottish song, used frequently at special occasions and sporting events. Although there is no official national anthem of Scotland, Flower of Scotland is one of a number of songs which fulfil this role, along with the older Scots Wha Hae, and Scotland the Brave, amongst others.[1][2] It was written by Roy Williamson of the folk group the Corries, and presented in 1967,[3] and refers to the victory of the Scots, led by Robert the Bruce, over England's Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.


The song was composed and is sung in English, typically with Scots pronunciation of a few words (e.g. "Tae" as opposed to "To").

O Flower of Scotland,
When will we see
Your like again,
That fought and died for,
Your wee bit Hill and Glen,
And stood against him,
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again.

The Hills are bare now,
And Autumn leaves
lie thick and still,
O'er land that is lost now,
Which those so dearly held,
That stood against him,
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again.

Those days are past now,
And in the past
they must remain,
But we can still rise now,
And be the nation again,
That stood against him,
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again.

Popular use[edit]

The song has been used as a National Anthem by the Scotland national rugby union team, ever since the winger, Billy Steele, encouraged his team-mates to sing it on the victorious Lions tour of South Africa in 1974.[4] The song was adopted as the pre-game anthem during the deciding match of the 1990 Five Nations Championship between Scotland and England, which Scotland won 13–7 to win the Grand Slam.[5] The Scottish Football Association adopted "Flower of Scotland" as its pre-game national anthem in 1997[6] although it was first used by them in 1993.[7] Usually only the first and third verses are sung. At any home International Scotland Rugby union test match the first verse is accompanied by bagpipes followed by the third verse unaccompanied by any instrument.[8]

When sung at sporting events, crowds will often call back after certain lines:[9] after the words "and stood against him", you may hear "England" or "Gainst who?".

The song was sung at boxer Jim Watt's fights.

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 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where it was again Team Scotland's anthem and was sung following a Scottish first place. (notably it was sung 4 times when Team Scotland won 4 gold medals in the opening day).[10]

The tune was originally composed on the Northumbrian smallpipes,[citation needed] which play in D and have the benefit of keys on the chanter to achieve a greater range of notes.

Ewan McGregor performed the song in Magadan in 2004 for the filming of the TV show Long Way Round.

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.[11] 10,000 people took part in the poll in which Flower of Scotland came out the winner. The results were as follows:

Tune Votes (%)
Flower of Scotland 41%
Scotland the Brave 29%
Highland Cathedral 16%
Is There for Honest Poverty 8%
Scots Wha Hae 6%

Scottish pirate metal band Alestorm have performed a cover of it live and recorded it, which is on their album Captain Morgan's Revenge. In addition, the Canadian Scottish-influenced Celtic Punk band The Real McKenzies have included the song on the album "Loch'd & Loaded" as well a staple in their live performance among many other traditional Scottish ballads.

At the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, the song was sung at Edinburgh Castle by 53 Scottish children selected from schools across Scotland.[12]


  1. ^ "Action call over national anthem". BBC News. BBC. 21 March 2006. Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "Scots anthem call rejected". BBC News. BBC. 29 October 2003. Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
  3. ^ The Corries website – (visited 28 August 2007)
  5. ^ "The Perfect Rugby Anthem – Flower of Scotland!" WalesOnline, 7 February 2009 (visited 26 May 2011)
  6. ^ BBC Sport Academy – (visited 16 December 2009)
  7. ^ http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/12776640.Why_SFA_president_wants_to_scrap_Flower_of_Scotland__apos_dirge_apos_/
  8. ^ Match vs Liechtenstein
  9. ^ "Flower Of Scotland At Hampden Park". 
  10. ^ "Glasgow 2014: Scotland open Games by winning four golds". 
  11. ^ "Flower of Scotland is first choice in RSNO anthem poll". heraldscotland. 2006-07-03. Retrieved 5 February 2011. 
  12. ^ "London 2012: Scottish choir sings for opening ceremony". BBC. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 

External links[edit]