The History behind the Scottish Flag

The national flag of Scotland is the Saltire. It is made up of a great white cross which spans diagonally across the flag on a blue background. This was the supposed shape of the cross that St. Andrew was put to death on and therefore the flag is also known as the 'Cross of St. Andrew'. Interestingly the Saltire, which dates back to the 12th century, is thought to be one of the oldest national flags in the world.

According to legend, the birth of the Saltire came about in a battle near Athelstaneford in East Lothian about the time of 832AD. Apparently the Scots looked up at the sky and saw a cross formation in the clouds which resembled the cross of St Andrew and they thus took this as a sign that they would succeed in battle. They did indeed win the battle, and from that point forward began to take the cloudy white cross and the evening sky azure as their country’s emblem.

There is another Scottish Flag which is called the ‘Royal Flag’ of Scotland or the ‘Rampant Lion’. It bears the emblem of a red lion raised up on its hind quarters on a yellow background bordered by a red border with Fleury and counterfleury. This flag is only supposed to be used by Scottish monarchs or government officials acting in their capacity to govern the country but it has seen more wide-spread use in recent years. The rampant lion emblem was originally introduced by William the Lyon in 1165 to replace the boar emblem which once decorated the country’s flags.

With the unification of England, Ireland and Scotland under one government, the Union Jack became the national flag of the United Kingdom. It is said to be made up of the flags of Scotland, England and Ireland and its use is strictly sanctioned and limited only to governmental and military use. The dragon of Wales was not incorporated. Should any member of these countries desire to fly a flag, they are only permitted to make use of their country’s native flags.

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