The Virgin and the Unicorn

The Virgin and the Unicorn

Mhairi Gregor

Based on the traditions of Scottish folklore, The Virgin and the Unicorn is a story encompassing life, death, and an enduring friendship. There is a castle fortified by stone where the deities dwell. The Unicorn is the first deity of the land, a beast of magnificence, power, and purity that keeps the land prosperous and true. It is a beast worshipped by all who walk the land. The Virgin Maiden is the second deity and the protector of unicorns, she is the only one who can wield its sacred powers for good. Man soon discovers the unicorn and its powers, deciding to take them for himself, he strikes the castle with an army of men, destroying everything in his path. A war is ensued, the virgin and the unicorn are forced into hiding when they discover man’s purpose. The chamber is fortified with sacred steel impenetrable by human forces. After man has won the battle and the remaining deities have been killed, only their souls remain to protect what is left of the barren land and castle while the virgin and the unicorn are still in hiding.



The story is set in the Scottish landscape of the Campsies. The Campsies is a vast landscape with an extensive historical background. The areajoins Stirlingshire, Glasgow and East Dunbartonshireandis an area full of historical narratives witha range of ruins that date back to as earlyas the 15thcentury. Some of these ruins include castles, chambered cairns and clachans. The development of the modern Scottish countryside can be traced by its agricultural qualities as farmers and peasants lived off the green landscape. The land itself was formed by volcanic intrusion that formed over mudstone and limestonebedrock. Traces of these can still be found today throughout the Campsies at a quarry near Crow Road. After researching and considering the Scottish landscape, its historical past and the ruins that still remain there presently I began to consider a talethat would involve the overall landscape and its ruins in a fairy tale like story. After discovering my initial storyline, I then had to create a character that would fit within Scotland’s historical past. Therefore, I began researching Scottish folklore, film, art and mythical creatures.

I began by researching films that utilised mythological creatures as characters within their storylines such as Pan’s Labyrinth and Apostle. Both provided me with the information I needed to create a detailed storyline about a particular mythological creature or deity that would be the main protagonist throughout my story. Scottish mythical creatures are imaginative beasts that have been believed to be roaming throughout the Scottish landscape. The unicorn is the most important and a wellestablishedcreature and is the symbol of Scotland. They area symbol of strength, resilience and have appeared throughout history in many different mediums suchas symbols on heraldic crests, engravings, tapestries gold coins and tombs. The unicorn has also been depicted throughout Christian texts and art symbolising Christ in his purest form.

After creating my characters for the storyline,I now needed to establisha place for them to inhabit and considering the ruins that have been conserved amongst the Campsies landscape, Idecided to create a castle that would surround the existing weather radar (Unicorn Chambers) creating a fortress that protects the chambers. This gave me the opportunity to design not only the interior of the unicorn chambers but also its surrounding castle. The relationship between the interior of both the castle and chamber to that of the outside landscape surrounding it was to create a space that represented a Edenic like landscape throughout. At one point this area is a lavish land and is balanced by the deities until there is a massacre of the deities by humanity, and both the maiden and unicorn are forced into hiding. This power that the unicorn and maiden possess are concealed and man destroys everything leaving barren waste land and the remaining souls of the deities lost in the mass killing. 

The relationship between nature and the built environment of the castle and unicorn chambers is harmonious. They both possess Edenic like qualities making the site and locations boundaries blurred between interior and exterior as nature has crossed the exterior threshold and is now a part of the castle’s interior. The reason for this is due to the unicorns’ celestial powers that create Edenic and balanced landscapes wherever it inhabits, even when it is forced within a confined space. Both the virgin maiden and the unicorn feel safe as the island is prosperous and only deities roam the land. The unicorn is worshipped by all for its powers of regeneration, so it feels no fear until it is threatened until the outside forces of man.

This project consists of sketches, collages and models that helped me to establish the overall appearance of the castle’s exterior and interior before and after the massacre creating a rich visual storyline for the viewer to lose themselves within.




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