Heather Tattoos: Symbolism Meanings and More

Heather Tattoos: Symbolism Meanings and More

If you’re looking for a delicate flower with a host of positive meanings, the heather makes a beautiful and meaningful tattoo. Popular in Scotland, it’s a well loved flower to often used to symbolize healing and protection.

Heather has had a long history in the highlands of Scotland, known for its medicinal properties and its fragrance. Both its delicate beauty, and its symbolism make it a popular choice for use in tattoo imagery.

This article looks into the history of heather flowers and tattoos, the symbolism and the meaning behind them.

What Is The History of Heather Tattoos?

Heather is one of the more common choices for floral tattoos. When it began to be used in tattoos and other imagery is not well documented, but it gains most of its fame from the fields and moors of heather in Scotland.

Scotland values the heather flower for its reputed healing properties. One clan, Clan Ranald, wore the image of white heather as a symbol of victory and good fortune in battle.

Queen Victoria prized the image of the heather flower, as well as the flower itself, as a symbol of good luck.


History of Heather Flowers:

Heather is native to the Northern Hemisphere, but is most well known for growing on the moors of Scotland. The most common is the purple flowers, but heather actually grows in several colors, including white, pink and red

The first historical reference to heather is Scottish legend.

The daughter of the bard Ossain, Malvina, fell in love with a warrior named Oscar. He was called to war and killed in battle.

The messenger who brought Malvina the news of Oscar’s death also brought a spray of heather to serve as reminder of his love. When Malvina cried, the heather turned white, giving her comfort and causing her to bless the flower.

It was later that the heather was adopted as a symbol by Queen Victoria.

Later, brides carried white heather as a symbol of good luck and a fruitful union.


What Does Heather Symbolize?

Heather has many meanings. The most common, dating from the days Queen Victoria, are:

  • Good Luck
  • Admiration
  • Protection

Since then, Heather has also come to symbolize:

  • Beauty
  • Solitude
  • Independence
  • Survival

Colors can also play a part in the symbolism attached to heather tattoos.

  • White: White was traditionally used for Victory and Luck in Battle
  • White: Also served as Good luck and Fruitful Unions for Marriages.
  • White: Can also represent traditional meanings such as Innocence
  • Pink: Grace and Beauty, Feminity and Friendship
  • Purple: Solitude and Majesty
  • Yellow: Wellness, Luck and Positivity
  • Red: Red Heather is actually a symbol of bad luck, due to it’s resemblence to blood spilled on the battlefield.

What Do Heather Tattoos Mean?

Heather tattoos can present a variety of meanings.

One of the most common uses is to depict a connection to Scotland, or Scottish heritage. Like the thistle, this tattoo can symbolize a connection to the Scottish moors where Heather is so often found.

Among those with ties to a specific clan, a white Heather can represent a desire for luck and victory in conflict.

The heather plant may also represent a wish for healing, as Heather was reputed to have several medicinal properties in older days.

Heather tattoos can also represent a desire for good luck in non-combat arenas, such as the beginning of a new stage in life.

A Person might choose a heather tattoo to commemorate a survivor of an ordeal. Heather is a hardy plant that is even known to flourish in the winter months, making it a great representation for survival and endurance.

Yellow heather is a rare choice for imagery, and usually represents a desire of positive influences and wellness.

Heather can also be chosen purely for its aesthetic beauty.

The small, delicate design of the flower makes it an elegant flower to use as a frame or a supplement to other tattoos, and can add a deeper meaning with subtle positive imagery.

Pink heather tattoos may represent a friend or loved one, either as a memorial, or as a way of carrying their positive influences with them.


Heather Paired With Other Images:

Heather paired with thistle is a common image, and hearkens back to Scottish imagery. It may symbolize a tie to a certain clan, or a general connection to Scottish heritage.

Heather paired with a name is more likely to represent a memorial to someone, or a person who represents certain qualities. It may even symbolize well-wishes or a desire for protection to be extended to that person.

Heather is rarely depicted with other images, which makes these connections a symbol of a more personal and deeper meaning when they are worn that way.


Where Do Heather Tattoos Usually Go?

Heather tattoos are generally small, long and delicate images.

The most common location for heather tattoos is the forearm, usually in one or two sprigs, thought it’s sometimes depicted as a bouquet of heather springs.

The second most common location for heather tattoos is the ankle. This is usually a single or double sprig near the ankle bone.

A less common location  for heather tattoos is the upper arm, for larger depictions or heather paired with other flowers.

On rare occasions, it’s placed on the chest or collarbone.


Style and Characteristics of Heather Tattoos:

Most heather tattoos share common characteristics.

– They’re usually depicted as realistic or illustrated blooms with upright sprigs.

– The most common depiction is of single sprigs, though there’s plenty of tattoos with doubled sprigs or full sprays of 5 to 6 sprigs.

– Heather tattoos are most commonly done in purple, pink or indigo flowers.

– When connected to the Scottish region they are most prominently known for, they may be paired with thistles, and tied with ribbons.

– Most often, these flowers are used in smaller images, even miniatures, in keeping with the delicate nature of the blooms.


Whatever style of heather imagery you choose, this flower makes an beautiful tattoo both aesthetically and symbolically.  For both its postive symbolism and its long connection to the Scottish and British history, this flower is a symbol of strength and encouragement.


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