The Saltire, Scotland's National Flag, by
(from e-mail on Tartan Day, 2003)
The Saltire has its darker colour when forming
part of the Union Flag (often referred to as the "Union Jack" popularly, but
incorrect technically; the "Jack" is the flag in naval use, as it was flown from
the Jack Staff).
It is perhaps worth remembering the origin
of the Saltire this Tartan Day.
National Flag is so-called because its cross resembles the simplest form of horse jump
of crossed poles, and comes from the French, "sauteur". However its origins are
much older. The
village of Athelstaneford in East Lothian flies
a Saltire with its explanation: it was during a battle there in 832 AD between
the Picts and Scots against the invading Angles lead by Athelstan of Northumbria. The odds were against the defenders. Their King, Angus mac Fergus, High King of
Alba (the ancient name for Scotland) prayed for victory. At that moment two
clouds made the form of the cross on which Saint Andrew was crucified. Despite
their smaller number, victory went to the Picts and Scots, and so, Saint Andrew
was adopted as Scotland's Patron Saint, and his cross as Scotland's Flag, just
as it was seen that day, a white Cross against a sky blue background.
471 years later the Saltire would deliver
another Scots victory at the Battle of Roslin,
February 1303, when 8,000 Scots defeated a superior English army in three
separate engagements. The Scots were encouraged by the sight of a Saltire
erected by Monks at the highest point in the Pentlands, celebrated in the
"Ballad of the Battle of Roslin"."
I have the full text and a photograph of
The Declaration of Arbroath on my website at:
Happy Tartan Day to all!
Iain Laird, 2003/04/06, E-mail: