‘The People’s Money’ is the name used to describe the country-wide collaboration that inspired the new Royal Bank of Scotland note designs. Working across four Scottish cities – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Inverness (plus online forums) – the Royal Bank held free and frank public conversations around different themes for the note. In partnership with Nile, the Royal Bank assembled some of Scotland's leading creatives, including Graven Images, O Street, Stuco and Timorous Beasties.
The people chose ‘natural colour and light’ as their theme. It was a standout choice, with all the important cultural elements being reflected: education; water and weather; grand elements like our beautiful landscapes; as well as a nod to the everyday, but also our aspirations for the future.
Mary Somerville made science accessible to a much wider audience by breaking down complicated scientific topics into more simple terms. She thereby started the trend for ‘Popular Science’ through her widely published and used scientific writing.
Mary’s books spread across several scientific disciplines such as astronomy, physics, geography and biology. And it was her work that prompted the creation of the term ‘scientist’, a new professional concept and umbrella term to define it, coined in 1834 by William Whewell.
‘Mary Somerville as a young woman’
Artist: John Jackson
Owner: Somerville College, University of Oxford.
This particular passage was chosen for its reference to water – connecting it to the shoreline, which is the theme of the note. It was also chosen for its mention of the behaviour of light – connecting to the overall theme of the note family; ‘natural colour and light’.
From ‘The Connection of the Physical Sciences’, it’ is a lovely example of how Mary brought science into everyday language.
Landscape photograph of
Mary Somerville (née Fairfax) ran wild in the coastal countryside of her home in Burntisland. Inheriting her father’s fascination with natural history (in his case, plants and especially tulips), she studied the sea shells, birds and flowers that she found around her.
The image used is of Burntisland beach. Commissioned by Royal Bank of Scotland from photographer Peter Dibdin. It was taken at exactly this spot: 56.0622° N, 3.2235° W
Hidden in the UV layer is the diagram below. It is taken from Mary Somerville’s book ‘Mechanism of the Heavens’, where it illustrates how we can use the light of the sun hitting the moon to calculate the distance between the Earth and the Sun. This is an example of her efforts to make knowledge available to the wider population.
Scotland is one of the best places in Western Europe to see otters, especially along the coasts of the Hebrides and North Isles. Currently estimated at around 8,000 animals, Scottish otters can be rather different in their behaviour from otters elsewhere.
Only around half the otters in Scotland live in freshwaters, whereas almost all of those in England and Wales do so. The coastal dwelling Scottish otters can be very active during the day. So otter viewing is easier around Scottish shores – a boon for wildlife enthusiasts and filmmakers.
The Dog-Otterstooth pattern (a houndstooth variation) was created for the note by tweed designers Elspeth Anderson and Alistair McDade. Alistair and Elspeth designed the set of beautiful bespoke tweed patterns used across the full Royal Bank note series. First came the blue herringbone, which was created for the £5 note; this is now followed by Dog-Otterstooth for the £10 note.
Alistair’s vast knowledge of tweed helped guide the team to the key patterns that worked with the note stories. Elspeth’s genius was in creating the bespoke weaves, rooted in tradition but developed for a future Scotland.
Dulse is a red seaweed that grows in the area between the high tide and low tide to depths of 20m below the surface on the northern coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. Harvested from the Scottish coasts, it was used by the early Scots for dyeing yarn brown for the colouring of the tweeds and tartans for their plaids and kilts.
Excerpt from Moorings by Norman MacCaig (second two lines visible in UV layer).
Norman MacCaig (1910-96) was one of the great generation of Scottish poets writing after the Second World War who were pre-eminently associated with particular locations and real geographies. He is best known as a great love poet of the natural world: mountains, lochs, birds, beasts and landscapes of the north-west generally.
His voice is distinctly Scots, its music inflected by both Gaelic and the urban register, so that it is unimaginable coming from anywhere in the English-speaking world other than Scotland.
The Scottish midgie, an ever present element of summer in the Scottish countryside, is shown on all the notes (£5/10/20/50) as a cluster in the invisible UV layer on the obverse and individually hidden on the reverse.