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The Flag of Scotland

Some listeners of this weekly addition to Celtic Faire may know that the researcher for the topics is very proud of her Irish heritage. However, to bring awareness to the fullness of all Celtic nations celebrated by the Celtic Cultural Alliance, today’s spot features information about the Flag of Scotland., we’ll be covering flags from the other Celtic nations in subsequent broadcasts.

The national flag of Scotland is also known as Saint Andrew's Cross, or the Saltire. The white “x” from corner to corner over a blue background, rather than the Royal Standard of Scotland, is the correct flag for all individuals and corporate bodies to fly in order to demonstrate both their loyalty and Scottish nationality.

The symbolism represents the legendary story of the Christian apostle and martyr Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, was crucified on an X-shaped cross at Patras, in Achaea.

Use of the familiar iconography of his martyrdom first appears in the Kingdom of Scotland in 1180 during the reign of William I. This image was depicted on seals used during the late 13th century; including on one particular example used by the Guardians of Scotland, dated 1286.

Use of a simplified symbol associated with Saint Andrew has its origins in the late 14th century; when the Parliament of Scotland decreed in 1385 that Scottish soldiers wear a white Saint Andrew's Cross on their person, both front and back, for identification purposes.

The use of a blue background for the Saint Andrew's Cross is said to date from at least the 15th century. 

The legend surrounding Scotland's association with the Saint Andrew's Cross was related by Walter Bower and George Buchanan, who claimed that the flag originated in a 9th-century battle, where Angus II led a combined force of Picts and Scots to victory over the Angles (an early tribe of Germanic peoples who would later become Britain). Supposedly, a miraculous white saltire appeared in the blue sky and Angus' troops were roused to victory by the omen.

So there you have – the story behind the national flag of Scotland. For the Celtic Cultural Alliance, I’m Silagh White. Slainté.

Alison DelRe is the Director of Community Relations and Account Associate at WDIY.