A two penny plack issued in the reign of James VI (1567–1625). Made of billon, an alloy, the coin was struck between 1583 and 1590. It is an example of coinage from the time before the Scottish king acceded to the English throne.

This coin was hammered twice. Two instances of the design can be seen, slightly out of line, on either side – the result of double striking.

A crowned shield with lion rampant adorns the heads side of the coin. The legend translates as ‘James VI by the Grace of God King of Scotland’. In Latin, it reads: 'IACOB 6 D.G. R. SCO'.

A thistle takes centre place on the reverse. Letters on this side, which stand for ‘Edinburgh town’, read: 'OPPID. EDINB'.

Billon and copper coins were issued in smaller amounts at this time. And none were struck in the first 16 years of James VI’s reign. Scottish documents of 1585 refer to the striking of coins at Dundee and Perth, owing to the plague outbreak in Edinburgh. But the only coins that are known of carry the Edinburgh Mint signature.

James VI was the first Protestant King of Scotland. As Elizabeth I’s nearest heir, he succeeded to the throne of England after her death in 1603.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle has witnessed many of the defining events in Scotland’s history. Sieges were fought over the mighty stronghold. Royalty lived and died within its walls. Just the sight of the Castle Rock has terrified and inspired countless generations.

Fierce Iron Age warriors defended a hill fort here, and the nation’s oldest poetry tells of a war band feasting here for a year before riding to their deaths in battle.

The castle’s royal connections go back 1,000 years, and the city’s oldest building stands on the site. David I built St Margaret’s Chapel around 1130, as a tribute to his devout mother.

Edinburgh has been besieged more than any other castle in Europe, and the Scots and English struggled over its control during the Wars of Independence. In 1314, Thomas Randolph, a relative of Robert the Bruce, led a daring night raid to reclaim it from the English.

Over the last 200 years, Edinburgh Castle has become a national icon. Today it is Scotland’s leading tourist attraction and a chief element of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Home of royalty

Scottish monarchs commissioned grand buildings here – both as secure lodgings and to show off their wealth, power and good taste. The castle’s royal role continues today.

Monarchs who sheltered here include:

  • Queen Margaret (later St Margaret), who died here in 1093
  • Mary Queen of Scots, who gave birth to James VI in the Royal Palace in 1566

Edinburgh was among Scotland’s chief royal residences during the 1400s and 1500s.

Bonnie Prince Charlie – Mary’s great-great-great grandson – captured Edinburgh but failed to take the castle during the 1745–46 Jacobite Rising.

Army headquarters

Edinburgh Castle became more important as a military base from the late 1500s onwards.

After the ‘Lang Siege’ of 1571–3, the castle’s military strength was repaired, maintained and improved. Additions included:

  • the distinctive Half Moon Battery
  • a huge garrison
  • a secure jail for prisoners of war

The military presence remains unbroken – Edinburgh Castle is still an active base today. It also houses three military museums, the Scottish National War Memorial and the Prisons of War exhibition.

Find out more about Edinburgh Castle


Date Made
21 x 19 x 1mm
Property Information
Edinburgh Castle
Object Number
Access Status