The Royal Order of Scotland comprises of two degrees, the degree of Heredom of Kilwinning and the Rosy Cross Degree. The word Heredom has been variously interpreted, but the most obvious derivation is from the Hebrew word Harodim, meaning “The Rulers”, and the name Kilwinning refers to the re-establishment of the order by King Robert the Bruce at Kilwinning, where he presided as its first Grand Master. The degree of Heredom of Kilwinning is particularly interesting and enlightening to students of Craft Masonry, as its lectures deal exhaustively with the symbolism and teachings of the first three degrees of Saint John’s Masonry.
Tradition informs us that the Rosy Cross degree, which incorporates the conferral of Knighthood, originated on the fields of Bannockburn on Summer Saint John’s Day in the year 1314, and was instituted by Robert the Bruce who, having received signal assistance from a body of Freemasons in the battle for Scottish independence conferred on them the Masonic Rank of Knighthood as a reward for their faithful services. Each received a characteristic considered descriptive of his performance at Bannockburn.
The degrees of the Order and the rank of Knighthood can only be conferred in the Grand Lodge of the Order, which has its seat in Edinburgh, or by special authority to a Provincial Grand Master or his Deputy. The Constitution of the Royal Order decrees the King of Scots to be the hereditary Grand Master for whom, at every meeting of the Royal Order wherever held; a vacant seat or throne must be placed at the right hand of the Presiding Officer. In the absence of a reigning Scottish Monarch the acting Head of the Order is the Deputy Grand Master and Governor who is currently Bro. Sir Archiblad Donald Orr Ewing, 6th Bart., MA.
There are no reliable records tracing the history of the Order from its alleged revival in 1314 until the middle of the 18th century, when it appears to have flourished in France from 1735 until 1740. From France, the Order appears to have moved to London where it flourished from 1741 to 1750, and on 22nd July of that year, its adherents reconstituted the Grand Lodge of the Royal Order of Scotland in Edinburgh, where it has ever since had its Headquarters. The ceremonies of the two degrees are interesting being markedly different from the other degrees in Freemasonry. Part of the ritual is rendered in irregular rhyming form.
Originally, membership of the Order was restricted to Scotsmen or those of Scottish descent, but later the privilege has extended to deserving and highly esteemed Masons of other nationalities. The only Masonic qualification required by the Constitution of the Order is that Candidates must have been a Master Mason for at least five years.