The Scottish thistle as a Heraldic badge. Since the reign of Alexander III (1249–1286) the thistle has been the national emblem of Scotland. From then on it’s been the symbol of the Order of the Thistle, a chivalric order of Scotland. According to legend, a Norse army was attempting to sneak up on a Scottish army's encampment. Being barefoot was a Norseman’s misfortune since he stepped on a thistle. His cry of pain alerted the Scots to the attack. The Thistle is Scotland's national emblem. A symbol for bravery, courage, and loyalty.