Current issue notes
The Ilay series
Our Ilay banknote series was launched in September 1987. The notes are currently issued in £1, £10, £20, £50 and £100 denominations. The Ilay £5 was issued from 1987 until 2016, but beginning in October 2016 it is gradually being replaced by a new design (see below).
The Ilay series is named after the first governor of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Archibald Campbell, Earl of Ilay (1682-1761), whose portrait graces the front face of each note. Ilay's portrait also features as the watermark.
Ilay was the right-hand man in Scotland for Britain’s first Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, and played an important part in establishing Scottish banking. He was closely involved in the foundation of the Royal Bank in 1727 and also set up the British Linen Bank in 1746. He was noted for his support of Scottish universities.
On the reverse, each denomination in the Ilay series features a different Scottish castle. These castles first appeared on Royal Bank notes in 1972, following the merger of National Commercial Bank of Scotland and The Royal Bank of Scotland in 1969.
Full details of the signatories, issue dates, serial numbers and issue extents of the Ilay series are provided in our details for banknote collectors (PDF - 17KB).
New £5 note, 2016
Beginning in October 2016, the Ilay series £5 note is being gradually replaced by a new design. The new note is the bank's first issue on a polymer substrate, and features a portrait of the Scottish writer Nan Shepherd (1893-1981) on one side and an illustration of mackerel on the other. Other design features include a herringbone tweed pattern; woad flowers; and a quotation from poet Sorley MacLean (1911-1996).