History of the Saltire

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Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Blantyre history

History of the Saltire

History of the Saltire This is the story of how a white diagonal cross on a sky blue background became the flag of Scotland and the oldest flag in Europe. At the time this story took place neither Scotland nor England were countries as we would know them today.

In part it symbolises our patron saint, St. Andrew, who was crucified on a cross this shape because he felt he was unfit to be crucified on the same shaped cross as Jesus. It is sometimes called the St Andrews cross because of this. 

St Andrew never came to Scotland only his bones were brought here. The place of there landing was named especially to commemorate this event. Its proper name is the Saltire.

The Picts and Scots tribes under King Angus were invading an area of Scotland now called the Lothians but then it was Northumbrian territory. They became surrounded by the the Angles tribe.


The night before the battle was due to begin King Angus fell on his knees and prayed to his God and the Christian saints to help him. Legend records that Saint Andrew appeared to him in a vision. History of the Saltire


The following day as the troops knelt to pray, a white cross appeared in the beautiful blue sky above the battle field.This was taken as a sign that the Picts and Scots had God and Saint Andrew on their side and made them fight all the more fiercely so King Angus won the battle.

When Scotland joined Britain and made it Great Britain the English and Welsh flag were added to bring about the Union Jack. The background of this flag should be sky blue but often appears dark blue. This is incorrect it should be sky blue and the Union Jack should only be called this when it is hoisted up the jack mast of a ship. Its proper name is The Flag of the Union’.

History of the Saltire Things to think about….

What is the name of the town where St. Andrew’s bones were landed? Two of the tribes gave their names to their country’s… Which two tribes and which two countries? Why does the background of The Flag of the Union appear dark blue?
The word ‘great’ when added to Britain does not mean Britain became terrific. What does it mean?


Sent in by Betty McGaulley


Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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