Legendary ideas about the unicorn include its supposed power to heal sickness and reverse the effects of poison and the belief that it can only be captured by a virgin. The mythical creature is described as a horse-like animal with a large spiraling horn projecting from its forehead.
The first accounts of the unicorn were found in Greek natural history. Greek writers were convinced that unicorns did in fact exist and that the creatures could be found in India. It was believed that the unicorn's horn was made of a substance called "alicorn." In the Middle Ages, the horn was believed to hold medicinal and magical powers. The myth that unicorns can only be tamed by virgins came from a medieval story in which a maiden representing the Virgin Mary traps a unicorn. As soon as the creature sees her, it lays its head on her lap and falls asleep. As a result, many pieces of biblical religious art feature unicorns.
The unicorn is also the national animal of Scotland. It was chosen because it was seen by the people of Scotland as a proud beast that would rather die than be captured. The creature has been used in Scottish heraldic symbols since the 12th century.