Made in 1831, this coin is an example of the first pennies made during the reign of William IV (1830–7). A rose, thistle and shamrock symbolise the union of England, Scotland and Ireland. The last William IV era pennies were made in 1837.

William IV is shown facing right, in the ‘laureate head’ style – with laurel wreath crown. The legend translates as ‘William IV by the grace of God’. It reads: ‘GULIELMUS IIII DEI GRATIA’, with the date below, 1831.

Britannia is seated facing right on the reverse. She holds a trident and her other hand rests on a shield to the left. The rose, thistle and shamrock are below. The text on this side, which means ‘King of Britain Defender of the Faith’, reads: ‘BRITANNIAR REX FID: DEF:’.

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
dia 28mm (dia 1 1/8")
Time Period
Property Information
Edinburgh Castle
Object Number
Access Status