A Borders face appears on the nation’s new tenners

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The Royal Bank of Scotland has this week unveiled the designs for its new £5 and £10 polymer notes.

And in pride of place on the new tenner is a portrait of Jedburgh scientist Mary Somerville.

In designing the new notes, the Royal Bank of Scotland engaged with thousands of people across Scotland through workshops, online communities and polling surveys.

As a result of this work, ‘the Fabric of Nature’ was chosen as the theme to underpin the design elements of the note set.

The new notes will be printed on De La Rue’s Safeguard Polymer material, and they will also contain a wide variety of new security features, making them difficult to counterfeit, but easy to authenticate.

Following the announcement that a recent public vote that led to nineteenth-century scientist Mary Somerville being chosen to feature on the £10 notes, which will enter circulation next year, the RBS Scotland Board has chosen writer Nan Shepherd to feature on the £5 note.

The chairman of the RBS Scotland Board, Malcolm Buchanan, commented this week: “I am delighted that we have been able to involve the public throughout this process; from the workshops and surveys that helped to decide on the theme, right through to the public vote that resulted in Mary Somerville being chosen to feature on the £10 note.

“People in Scotland will be using this money every day and it is quite right that they got to play an important role in designing it. This truly is the people’s money.

“The Royal Bank of Scotland has never before featured a woman on its main issue bank notes.

“It gives me enormous pleasure that we are able to celebrate the fantastic, and often overlooked, achievements of two great Scottish women. Both made huge contributions in their respective fields.”

Mary Somerville, who is credited with predicting the existence of the planet Neptune and for whom the term ‘scientist’ was coined, was the most popular candidate in a Facebook campaign to appear on the newd £10 notes.

The mathematician and astronomer known as ‘The Rose of Jedburgh’ was voted in with help from writer Jules Horne, of Hawick, who contacted Somerville College, Oxford (named after Mary) to support the campaign.

“I’m a massive fan of Mary Somerville, and helped Scottish Borders Council Museums to develop their scientist and engineer display at Jedburgh Castle Jail,” said Jules.

“I saw that she was on the shortlist and sent the link on Facebook to Somerville College, and also to Women in Science. They spread the word to their alumni, and over 4,000 people voted for Mary.”

Born at Jedburgh in 1780, at a time when women’s participation in science was discouraged, Mary took part in her brothers’ lessons, and was only able to fully commit to her own education after the death of her first husband.

Eventually she was jointly nominated to be the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1835.