How old is the Scot­tish flag?

History Revealed - - Q & A -

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

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