How old is the Scottish flag?
While details are sketchy as to when the St Andrew’s cross went from beloved national emblem to official flag, it seems to have had its first unfurling in the 16th century – in 1512, perhaps.
Yet the (admittedly legendary) origins of Scotland’s use of the saltire go back a wee bit further. In AD 60, the apostle and future saint Andrew asked to be crucified on a diagonal cross as he considered himself unworthy to die in the same way as Jesus Christ.
Scotland adopted Andrew, and the saltire, in the centuries that followed, perhaps after his bones appeared in Fife, and churches sprang up in his name. At some point, he became patron saint – in AD 832, if one tale is to be believed. The night before the Pictish King Angus II fought the English forces of Athelstan, he had a vision of St Andrew promising he would triumph. The next morning, his army saw a huge white saltire made of clouds appear against the blue sky. A memorial at Athelstaneford in East Lothian, the site of battle, still commemorates the Scottish victory.
SALT WITH THE WOUND This saltire was flown at the Battle of Culloden – the climactic clash of the Jacobite Rising of 1745