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Scottish Money

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 2007–2008, 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 own notes.

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 Gazette.


Bank of Scotland notes
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Series, introduced at the time of the Bank of Scotland's 300th anniversary in 1995, remains in circulation, but will be withdrawn as their physical condition deteriorates and will be replaced by the new Bridges of Scotland series: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 ages


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

Scotland: Gold pistole of William II (1701)


* 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 Robert III)

* 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


* Shilling

* 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.

* Plack

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