Scottish Bank Notes
Scottish (and Northern Irish) banknotes are unusual,
firstly because they are issued by retail banks, not central banks, and
secondly, as they are not legal tender anywhere in the UK not even in
Scotland or Northern Ireland they are in fact promissory notes.
Indeed, no banknotes (even Bank of England notes) are now legal tender
in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Seven retail banks have the authority of Parliament to issue sterling
banknotes as currency. Despite this, the notes are sometimes refused in
England and Wales, and are not always accepted by banks and exchange
bureaus outside of the United Kingdom. This is particularly true in the
case of the Royal Bank of Scotland £1 note, which is the only £1 note to
remain in circulation within the UK.
In 2000, the European Central Bank indicated that, should the United
Kingdom join the euro, Scottish banks (and, by extension, Northern
Ireland banks) would have to cease banknote issue. During the Financial
crisis of 20072008, the future of private banknotes in the United
Kingdom was uncertain. It has been suggested that the Banking Act 2009
would restrict the issue of banknotes by commercial banks in Scotland
and Northern Ireland by removing many of the provisions of the Acts
quoted above. Banks would be forced to lodge sterling funds with the
Bank of England to cover private note issue for a full week, rather than
over a weekend, thereby losing four days' interest and making banknote
production financially unviable. Following negotiations among the UK
Treasury, the Bank of England and the Scottish banks, it was agreed that
the funds would earn interest, allowing them to continue to issue their
The issuing of retail-bank banknotes in Scotland is subject to the Bank
Charter Act 1844, Bank Notes (Scotland) Act 1845, the Currency and Bank
Notes Act 1928, and the Coinage Act 1971. Pursuant to some of these
statutes, the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs publishes an account
of "the Amount of Notes authorised by Law to be issued by the several
Banks of Issue in Scotland, and the Average Amount of Notes in
Circulation, and of Bank of England Notes and Coin held" in the London
As of late 2007, the Tercentenary Series, introduced at the time of the
Bank of Scotland's 300th anniversary in 1995, remains in circulation,
but will be withdrawn as their physical condition deteriorates and will
be replaced by the new Bridges of Scotland series:
£5 note featuring a vignette of oil and energy
£10 note featuring a vignette of distilling and brewing
£20 note featuring a vignette of education and research
£50 note featuring a vignette of arts and culture
£100 note featuring a vignette of leisure and tourism
Scottish Coins through the
As with Scottish weights
and measures, many of the Scottish denominations bore the same names as
those in England, but were of slightly different values. The dates, and
first kings to issue them are included:
* Pistole Gold, 12 pounds Scots
* Dollar Replacement for the ryal, 60 Scots shillings (James VI)
* Ryal Gold, 1565
* Crown or Lion Gold (James I)
* Half-crown, Demi-Lion or Demys Gold (James I)
* Ducat or bonnet - 40 shillings, 1539 (James V)
* Mark or merk Gold (giving rise to the term markland)
* Noble Gold, worth half a mark, 1357 (David II, reintroduced by
* Testoon silver, 1553. Was produced in France with the new process of
mill and screw. It's the first milled coin of Scotland.
* Bawbee Billon, six pence from 1537
* Groat Silver, equivalent to four pence, from 1357 (giving rise to
the term groatland)
* Half-groat Silver, equivalent to two pence, from 1357
* Turner Billon, two pence (James VI), later copper.
* Bodle Copper, two pence (Charles II)
* Penny - Billon, one of the earliest coins, dating from David I. Later
made of copper; giving rise to the term pennyland.
* Halfpennies Initially literally half of a penny, these became minted
coins in their own right in c.1280. Later made of copper.
* Farthing or quarter-penny - These were originally quarters of pennies,
but as with Halfpennies, became coins in their own right in c.1280.
Later made of copper.