The £5 note, which features illustrations of Scottish poet Nan Shepherd and is part of a new series of ‘Fabric of Nature’ themed notes coming into circulation this year and next, is made from a De La Rue’s Safeguard® polymer material. It also contains a variety of new security features, making it difficult to counterfeit but easy to authenticate.

Royal Bank of Scotland engaged with thousands of people across the country through workshops, online communities and polling surveys in order to develop a series of new notes with relevance to the people of Scotland. This lead to the choice of ‘Fabric of Nature’ as the theme and the Royal Bank of Scotland Scotland’s Board chose Nan Shepherd to feature on the note.

Watch to learn more about the £5 note design journey.





The creation of the new notes also involved a number of key Scottish arts organisations and designers including Graven Images, Nile, Stucco, Timrous Beasties, O’Street and the Glasgow School of Art.

Behind Nan’s portrait sits a picture of the Cairngorms, so beloved by Nan Shepherd and celebrated in her writing, as well as a quote from her book ‘The Living Mountain’.

The reverse of the £5 note features two mackerel, the single most valuable stock for the Scottish fishing industry, as well as an excerpt from the poem ‘The Choice’ by Sorley MacLean. 

From today, the new note is available in nine branches across seven towns and cities: Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Haddington, Paisley and Dundee. The notes will be rolled out across the rest of Scotland over the forthcoming weeks and by May 2017 90% of all £5 notes in circulation will be polymer.

The Chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland’ Scottish Board, Malcolm Buchanan, said: “This is a historic moment in the Royal Bank of Scotland’s 300 year history.

“It is our first polymer note, a note fit for a modern age and one that will serve customers across Scotland for years to come.

“It is a representation of what is meaningful to the people of Scotland, designed in partnership with them. This is a note for Scotland.”

The new notes are 15% smaller and the new material is cleaner, more secure and more durable than traditional cotton notes, on average lasting 2.5 times longer.

All aspects of the new Royal Bank of Scotland note come to life when using Blippar. Customers can download the Blippar app and hover over the Royal Bank of Scotland logo on the note to learn more about its story. Learn how to download the Blippar App:



The new notes are 15% smaller and the new material is cleaner, more secure and more durable than traditional cotton notes, on average lasting 2.5 times longer.

Erlend Clouston, Nan Shepherd’s Literary Executioner, commented: “Nan would have been delighted and honoured to see her image and her work celebrated on the new note. 

“Her work has become an important part of the Scottish literary canon and now people everywhere will carry her portrait and her words with them.”

Rebekka Bush, Creative Director at the Royal Bank of Scotland, added: “The collaboration with such respected and influential designers and experts during the development of the note has been remarkable. It has been an unprecedented partnership that has founded a great creative legacy alongside the design of a beautiful note.”

Royal Bank of Scotland has been issuing banknotes since 1727 and has an average of £1.5bn worth of notes in circulation on a single day.

Our Updates
The Royal Bank of Scotland
Our News
Press Release
scroll to top