The Luckenbooth Brooch!
The Royal Mile, one of the most famous streets in Edinburgh, runs from the castle all the way down to Holyrood Palace. When Edinburgh castle was first established this was the only accessible route, a natural ramp formed thousands of years ago gave access to a castle otherwise impregnable from the east.
With the establishment of Holyrood palace, or rather the original monastery in the 12th century, the route between the two became an important thoroughfare. Businesses and government offices sprang up as well as several churches such as the magnificent St Giles Cathedral.
By the 16th century many parts of this route became dedicated to markets and the wide area running down from St Giles towards the Canongate featured some of the city’s first permanent shops. Many of these housed small trade people who made and sold their wares, and among the most popular were the jewellers. The shops themselves were very small and were known as ‘Locked Booths’. From this we get the word ‘Luckenbooth’.
The Luckenbooth brooch became a very popular item in 16th century Scotland. It featured the ‘Heart & Crown of Scotland’ and was romantically linked to the tragic Mary, Queen of Scots as it was the brooch she had given to Lord Darnley.
The style of the Luckenbooth brooch became very popular throughout the UK. By the 18th century the trade in silver to the new world featured the little brooch and many ended up traded with Native Americans, particularly the Iroquois of the Six Nations. As a result of this the Luckenbooth became a popular decorative symbol in their costumes.
The tradition was that the young man would give his lady a Luckenbooth brooch on their wedding day. When their first child arrived the brooch would then be pinned to the babies shawl to protect it from “evil spirits”. As such it had very similar connotations to the Irish ‘Claddagh’ ring especially with the similar heart shaped theme. This tradition can be carried over to today. A Luckenbooth Brooch makes a fantastic gift for your bride on your wedding day, or a gift for a newborn as a symbol of protection and love. Whatever you pick one up for, it is and always will be an enduring symbol of Edinburgh and of Scotland.