Scottish Tattoo Ideas

Scotland has a rich history, and those who have a Scottish heritage will find no shortage of family and cultural symbols. For those who are particularly proud of their Scottish heritage, a tattoo is one way to express this loyalty and pride. Most Scottish symbols are quite simple, and designs range from small and inexpensive to extensive and pricey.

Lion Rampant

The lion rampant--a lion on its hind legs with extended front paws--was adopted by King William I during the 12th century. It is actually a symbol of royalty or of loyalty to the king of Scotland. The Scottish royal flag depicts a red lion rampant on a yellow background, so if your tattoo is going to be coloured, these are the most appropriate colours to use.


Those with a Scottish background are likely to have a Scottish name somewhere in their family history. has an extensive list of family crests, mottos and clan history. Scottish crests do tend to be quite detailed and specific, so a trained tattoo artist is recommended.

Scottish Saltire

The Scottish Saltire--also known as Saint Andrew's Cross--would make a simple and attractive tattoo. The flag is blue with a white cross (in the shape of an x) across it. Legend has it that Saint Andrew saw this cross in the sky during a battle against the Northumbrians, signalling victory. The Scots did indeed win, and the saltire became the national symbol of Scotland.

Celtic Knot Work

Although Celtic knot work is not only Scottish, it is Celtic in origin and is a great way to add dimension and texture to family mottos or symbols. offers a Scottish band tattoo, which imitates the arm bands of the early Scottish warriors.

Other Scottish Tattoo Ideas

Other Scottish tattoo ideas include symbols such as the thistle, which is the national flower of Scotland; mythological creatures, such as the Loch Ness monster or keltie; or the Luckenbooth, which is particularly suitable for romantic tattoos. Combinations are also attractive and interesting. For example, a lion rampant on a saltire background would be one option.

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About the Author

Nicole Crawford is a NASM-certified personal trainer, doula and pre/post-natal fitness specialist. She is studying to be a nutrition coach and RYT 200 yoga teacher. Nicole contributes regularly at Breaking Muscle and has also written for "Paleo Magazine," The Bump and Fit Bottomed Mamas.