Committee of Scottish Bankers

Banknote Design Features : Bank of Scotland Tercentenary Series

Sir Walter Scott

The Tercentenary series of banknotes notes was issued in 1995 to coincide with the three hundredth anniversary of the founding of Bank of Scotland.  A portrait of the celebrated author Sir Walter Scott figures prominently on the front of each denomination. This is in recognition of Scott's defence of the Scottish £1 note, under threat from the Westminster Parliament in 1826.  Writing a series of public letters under the pseudonym 'Malachi Malagrowther', Scott successfully led the campaign against currency reform in Scotland and the Scots were allowed to keep their pound notes.

Also featured on the front, at the bottom left hand side, are different symbols for each denomination - circle (£5), diamond (£10), square (£20), triangle (£50) and three merging circles (£100). These have been inserted to assist people with impaired vision to identify each value. The Bank of Scotland is the only Scottish bank to have adopted these helpful symbols on all of its notes.

             Bank of Scotland £5 note symbolBank of Scotland £10 note symbolBank of Scotland £20 note symbolBank of Scotland £50 note symbolBank of Scotland £100 note symbol

On the back of the notes can be found an image of the Mound in Edinburgh, Head Office of the Bank since 1806.

Bank of Scotland Head Office, The Mound, Edinburgh

A prominent feature of the Edinburgh skyline, this magnificent building has a foot in both the Old and New Towns, located as it is directly between the two.

The three symbols which appear on the right hand side here represent the main constituents of the modern bank. Top to bottom they denote:

  • Bank of Scotland banknote symbolsPallas, the goddess of weaving, surmounted by the Latin motto 'Ditat' ('she enriches') which appeared on the seal of the British Linen Bank. This Scottish bank, founded by Royal Charter in Edinburgh in 1746, merged with Bank of Scotland in 1971;
  • the saltire cross and gold bezants which form part of Bank of Scotland's coat of arms, granted in 1701;
  • a ship in full sail taken from the Union Bank of Scotland's coat of arms. Originally the motif of the Ship Bank, which Glasgow-based institution subsequently merged with the Union Bank of Scotland. This latter was then absorbed by Bank of Scotland in 1955.

The designs on the back of the notes reflect various aspects of Scottish industry and society. The themes have been carefully selected, and all are of particular resonance:

  • Vignette depicting Oil & EnergyThe £5 note represents the oil and energy industry, so crucial to the Scottish economy from the 1970s.


  • Vignette depicting DistillingThe £10 note depicts the distilling and brewing sector, which some would argue to be the very essence of Scotland!


  • Vignette depicting Education & ResearchThe £20 note pays tribute to Scotland's major achievements and contributions in the fields of education and research.


  • Vignette depicting The ArtsThe £50 note celebrates the vibrancy and rich diversity of Scottish arts and culture.


  • Vignette depicting TourismThe £100 note features tourism, one of the biggest employers in the Scottish service sector.



Information on the design features of Bank of Scotland's Bridges series and the banknotes issued by Clydesdale Bank and  The Royal Bank of Scotland appears elsewhere on this site.