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Scotland (United Kingdom)

Last modified: 2009-08-08 by rob raeside
Keywords: scotland | saltire | cross: saint andrew | saint andrew |
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[Flag of Scotland] 2:3 (also used in other dimensions); image by Antůnio Martins-TuvŠlkin, 30 May 2006

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Scottish districts and municipalities

* The asterisk indicates the flag is listed in the UK Flag Registry and can be flown without special planning permission.

Flags from Scotland's history

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Origin and History of the Flag

The Saint Andrew cross is one of the oldest national flags of all, dating back at least to the 12th century, although the honour of the oldest flag among the modern nations generally falls to the flag of Denmark.
Stuart Notholt

(Notes taken from Graham Bartram's presentation on this topic at the ICV 19 in York.)

The Saint Andrew's cross.
Who was Saint Andrew? Andrew was one of Christ's disciples and legend has it he was active in Scythia, and crucified on a cross with diagonal beams. His remains were preserved, and (again by legend) Constantine wanted to remove them to Constantinople. A Greek monk was warned by an angel of this intent, and instructed to take them to the ends of the Earth. This he did, until he was shipwrecked in Scotland. Some of Andrew's relics were known to have been brought to St. Andrews, Scotland, by the Bishop of Hexham in 733 AD (Hexham Abbey is also dedicated to St. Andrew). In 1160 AD, St. Andrews Cathedral was erected, and the saint's relics were kept there until the cathedral was destroyed during the Reformation.

The earliest record to the Saint Andrew's cross flag dates from 1165 AD, where reference is made to a 9th Century battle. This was known in the 16th Century, although no record of the original source remains today.

Significant chronology of the flag includes:

  • 1180: The oldest extant record of the St. Andrews cross flag is on a seal in St. Andrews, where it is used as a religious, not a national, emblem (as shown at
  • 1286: the St. Andrews cross was first known to be a national emblem of Scotland (the seal of the guardians of Scotland:
  • 1385: every Scots soldier used a saltire on his uniform (often used on black, not blue - the background colour seems to have been of less importance)
  • 1388: the Standard of the Earl of Douglas used a St. Andrews cross and a lion
  • 1503: the first certain use of a plain St. Andrew's Cross flag - but the field was red, not blue (the Vienna Book of Hours).
  • 1512: the Lord High Treasurer's accounts mention the use of blue bunting.
  • 1542: the first certain illustration of the St. Andrew's Cross on a blue field as we have it today (armorial of Sir David Lindsay).
  • Reign of James IV: flagship Great Michael flew a flag with the St. Andrews cross and on the fly a red lion on yellow
  • 1588: Scottish ship illustrated flying three saltires
  • 1606: James VI (Scotland)/James I (England) combined the Scottish and English flags into the union flag of Great Britain
  • 1707: Queen Anne continued using James VI/I's design. A Scottish version is also known, with the saltire over the St. George's cross
  • 1801: the modern union flag introduced.
  • 1970's: the Scottish saltire became much more prominently used in Scotland
  • 1 July 1999: the union flag and the saltire were both used at the opening of the Scottish Parliament. Normally, though, only the Scottish saltire is flown.
Graham Bartram, 15 August 2001; chronology augmented by Kenneth Campbell Fraser, 23 November 1998

Based on the chronology above, It would be better to say that the flag dated from the 16th Century.
Kenneth Campbell Fraser, 23 November 1998

Here's some additional information on the early St Andrew's cross from Perrin:

1385: The ordinances for its use on soldier's uniforms read: 'Item every man French and Scots shall have a sign before and behind, namely a white St Andrew's Cross, and if his jack is white or his coat white he shall bear the said white cross in a piece of black cloth round or square'.
Two quotes from the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland:
1512: Payment for a roll of blue say (woollen bunting) for the banner of a ship 'with Sanct Androis cors in the myddis'.
1540: Delivered to be three ensigns for the ships sixteen 'elnis' red and yellow 'taffites'. Delivered to be the crosses thereof, four 'elnes' half 'elne' white 'taffities' of Genoa.
I've left out details of the dates and price and people concerned and turned the old Scots into modern English where I am certain of the meaning. I presume 'elnis/elnes' are measures and that 'taffities' is a type of fabric. Red and yellow were the Stuart livery colours and were sometimes used as the field of the white cross. There is no indication of how the two colours were arranged.
David Prothero
, 24 November 1998

Legendary Origin of the Flag

The Scottish flag traces its ancestry back to the Battle of Athelstaneford, making it possibly the oldest of national flags, although among modern independent nations that honour generally falls to the Danish flag.

One legend, (very much a story but of interest nonetheless), concerns the fact that it is believed by generations of Scotsmen that our national flag, the white saltire on a blue ground, the oldest flag in the British Commonwealth, originated in a battle fought, a little more than a mile from present day Markle,in the Parish of Prestonkirk in East Lothian, in the Dark Ages between the Picts and Scots on one side and the Angles of Northumbria on the other. There are various versions of the tale but it is generally agreed around the time of the 8th century, an army of Picts and Scots under King Hungus found themselves surrounded by a force of Angles under their leader Athelstan. King Hungus prayed earnestly for deliverance to God and the saints and that night St Andrew appeared to the King and promised them victory. Next day, when battle was joined, the vision of the white saltire (the diagonal cross on which the Apostle had been martyred) was seen by all in the blue sky. This so encouraged the Picts and Scots and affrighted their adversaries that a victory was won. King Athelstan was slain at the crossing of the burn, still known to this day as Athelstaneford. The story continues that this all was seen as a 'Miracle' and may have been the origin of the name "Markle"! In the nearby East Lothian village of Athelstaneford, a flag heritage centre commemorates and discusses the development of the legendary white cross on the blue background.
Thomas Middlemass, 6 February 2000

Nick Groom in his book, The Union Jack, the story of the British Flag, published April 2006 claims the following: page 85.
"Constant attacks from the Vikings".
"It was during the course of these raids that king Angus adopted St. Andrew as the Patron Saint...and the next day as a silver saltire shone in the bright blue sky...thereafter the Picts adopted the diagonal white cross as their national banner". He notes "Bellenden's 1536 translation of Hector Boece 1520...worked from a lost source c1165...this is erroneously given as the eve of a battle with the Saxons at East Lothian in 832".
Also on the Bristol University website, The Union Jack, Nick Groom:
"The St Andrew's cross, a silver saltire on blue...It was also the omen seen in the sky by the Pictish king Angus before he defeated a Danish invasion".

In my opinion the enemy of the Picts at the Battle of Athelstaneford, were Angles-Saxons and not Vikings-Danes. So, I e-mailed Mr. Groom. He stated that: "used the Oxford Companion to British History (1997), and then followed up original sources (as indicated in footnotes and bibliography)". All the sources I can find, show the enemy of the Picts at the Battle of Athelstaneford to be Angles-Saxons.


  • Chronicle of the Scottish nation, John of Fordun (died c.1384 or 1385), edited by William F. Skene, translated from the Latin. Pages 144-144; "Now we must show who this Athelstan was, whom King Hungus overthrew in battle". "the second was the one in question" "whom his father bestowed all the of the English-born nation" "except the kingdom of Wessex". "Content with only his ancestral kingdom of the West Saxons, as soon as he began to reign he handed over to his eldest son, Athelstan, the other dependencies which his father had subjugated". "King Athelstan" "massing together the" "whole English nation". "so great a panic invaded the hearts of the enemy, that their ranks were broken and they all turned to flee, except a few with the king who held their ground, and were overcome and slain". "king's head" was cut off" "and taken away by Hungus". To prove that there is no confusion with Vikings-Danes. For example; on page 147, "a great fleet of heathen, Danes, Norwegians, and Frisians, emerged".
  • The Chronicles of Scotland, Hector Boece (1464-1536). "Translated into Scots by John Bellenden, 1531". Pages 27-29; "Hungus, King of Pichtis" "Athelstane, King of Saxonis" "Achayus, havand Inglismen at extreme hattrent, send xm (x=10 m=1000, 10x1000=10000) chosin men in support of his gude bruthder Hungus." "King Hungus beand on sleip, apperit the Apostill Sanctandrow and bad him be gude confort" "for he suld haif the nixt day ane glorious victory of Englismen". "It is said that ane schynand croce was sene" "the samym croce that the Apostill deit on". "The slauchter was made sa huge at this tyme on Englismen that skairslye war left of all thair army VC (V=5 C=100, 5x100=500) men on live". "Athelestane" "and slayn with sindry nobillis of England". "In memory herof the place quhair he was slayn and his army diffayit is callit yite Athelstanefurd". To prove that there is no confusion with Vikings-Danes. For example; on page 63, Gadanus, King of Denmark, come with ane grete army first aganis Scottis and syne angis Inglismen." and page 64, "The Scottis and Inglismen war sa astonyst be this cruelte of Danys". Also, "Danys" mentioned another nine times and once "Danis". The Historie of Scotland, John Leslie(1527-1596). "Translated in Scottish by Father James Dalrymple in 1596". Pages 267-268; "Hung king of Peichtis" "Athelstane king of Easte Saxone". "ffor the Croce quhairvpon S.Andro diet" "suddanlie apperit, in viue and bricht colouris, in a manner, sett in the Aire". "the Saxounis war sa slane doune, that of al thair armie, skairse chaipet fyve hunder". "Athelstane thair king thair being slane, the place quhair that feild was strukene, was eftir named Athelstane". "S. Androis croce was ay borne befor in the Ansignye, and armes of the cuntrey." "This the Scotis evin vnto this day obserues maist religiouslie, in the rememberance of yt victorie wonn throuch the helpe of S. Andro".
    To prove that there is no confusion with the Vikings-Danes. For example; on page 278, "Quhen Constantin his realme, now put to rest, in dainger be the Danes ne fallis neist. for Cadan king of Denmark". "With ane gret armie against Scotland".
  • The History of The Church and State of Scotland, Book I, John Spottiswood (1565-1639); Page 23, "We are now at the year 800, or thereabout" "An.800". "amongst the Picts Hungus, a Prince" "Athelstane king of the West-Saxons". "The history addeth, that in the joyning of the battel there appeared in the air a cross, in the form of the Letter X". "King Athelstane himself there killed, whereupon the village took the name which at this day enjoyeth, Athelstan Foord". "Hungus" "he did appoint the cross of S. Andrew to be the Badge and cognisance of the Picts".
  • Scotichronicon, Volume 2, Book IV, Walter Bower (1385-1449), General Editor D E R Watt, Edited by John and Winifred MacQueen, Aberdeen University Press. Page 305; "At the same time as that Hungus King A/Ethelwulf was reigning in Wessex. In 802 his eldest son Athelstan had his head impaled on a stake and King Hungus carried it away to his kingdom with him, after he had been victorious in battle, as will appear in detail in the next chapter."
    Page 307-311; "The second Athelstan, the subject of the present account, was the son of A/Ethelwulf, and his father during his lifetime conferred on him all the regions of the English people" "except" "Wessex". "A/Ethelwulf "content with merely the kingdom of the West Saxons". "Hungus king of the Picts led a great army to lay waste the nations of the Angles nearest to him, the Northumbrians". After various days' marches" "came" "to a pleasant plain in Lothian" "at a place now called Athelstaneford". "When Athelstan heard this, he brought together the might of the Angles both north and south" "he came unexpectedly upon the place where Hungus was encamped and so successfully surrounded him on all sides" "that no way of escape was left open to him." "Although far fewer in number, they rushed the enemy" "panic seized their enemies" "and turned away to flee, except for a few around the king who held their ground, but they were likewise overcome and killed". King Athelstan's head was cut off".
    To prove that there is no confusion with the Vikings-Danes. For example, page 329, "Dane" "Danish". Page 331, "The pagans of the Danish race". "But after some years a certain Dane".
  • History of Scotland, Volume 1, George Buchanan (1506-1582). Page 263; "when Athelstane, the Angle, wasted the neighbouring country of the Picts, Hungus their king obtained from Achaius, already incensed against the English, ten thousand Scots". "Athelstane" "following close upon his route, overtook him not far from the town of Haddington." "It is added, that a decussated cross appeared visible in the heavens" "which so terrified the English, that they were scarcely able to withstand the first attack of the Picts". "Athelstane having been killed here, is said to have given his name to the place, which to this day is called Athelstaneford." "Hungus who ascribed the victory" "to the power of St. Andrew".
  • A History of Greater Britain, Book II, John Major (1469-1550). Page 108; "Hungus the Pict put to flight Athelstan of England near to Athelstaneford." "There it was that the cross of St. Andrew appeared to Hungus, when in time of need he had been made king of the Picts."
Thomas Murray, 20 December 2007 (originally sent to Dauvit Brown, June 2006)

You are quite right to object to 'Danes' as the enemy of the Picts as stated on the website: the enemy was reputedly a king Athelstan of England. The story in medieval Scottish sources is chronologically impossible, however: Athelstan and Ungus/Unust/Onuist king of the Picts were not contemporaries (doesn't matter which of two Onuists you pick: 729-61 or 820-34). I think 'Danes' must have crept in in a misguided attempt to make the story credible for the second Onuist.

In this case we are helped by the survival of two account of St Andrews foundation, both 12th century. One (the longer, called the 'B' account) can be dated to David I's reign (1124-53) as it stands, but it seems to have an earlier core dating from about 840. Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to show what belonged to this earlier core. The other (the shorter, called 'A') can be dated to sometime in or shortly after 1101. The exciting thing about the shorter legend of 1101+ is that it gives what looks like the earliest account of the famous battle. It does not say that a saltire was seen in the sky (that is a much much later detail) but it does describe a cross. The whole passage reads (with apologies for a translation that tries to stick closely to the Latin, and is not very elegant!) [note that the king, obviously Onuist, is called 'Ungus']:

'At that time, not by chance but by divine instigation, a king of the Picts called Ungus son of Urguist, rising up with a great army, killing with the cruelest devastation the British nations living in the south part of this island, finally reached the plain of Mercia and wintered there. Then all the peoples of nearly the whole island, coming with a united force, surrounded him, intending to destroy him and his army completely. Next day, the aforementioned king went out for a walk with his seven most intimate companions, and a divine light shone around them, and they fell forward onto their faces, unable to bear it [the light]. And lo!, a voice was heard from heaven: 'Ungus, Ungus, hear me, an apostle of Christ, Andrew by name, who am sent to defend and protect you. Get up; behold the sign of the cross of Christ which stands in the sky and will go before you against your enemies: nevertheless, offer a tenth part of your inheritance in alms to God Almighty and in honour of St Andrew His apostle'. Now on the third day, advised by the divine voice, [Ungus] divided his army into thirteen troops, and the image of the cross went in front of each division, and a divine light shone from the top of each and every sign. Thereupon they became victors.'

You'll notice that English are not specified explicitly, by the way, but Mercia is (the biggest Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the eighth century). Now, an early source (northern English annals of the 8th cent) refers to Onuist I and the king of Northumbria coming to terms with the king of Dumbarton on 1 August 756, and then talks of one of them (presumably Onuist) leading an army from Govan to 'Newburgh' where, on 10 August, it was nearly completely destroyed. Alex Woolf has pointed out to me that 'Newburgh' here could be a place in Staffordshire in Mercia, and that this could be the situation mentioned in the legend, when Onuist was facing annihilation in Mercia but managed to escape. What was Onuist doing down in Mercia, you might ask? Another early English chronicle (again from the 8th cent) refers to the king of Wessex in 750 rebelling against the king of Mercia and Onuist king of the Picts. It looks as if the king of Mercia and Onuist shared the position of preeminent ruler of Britain. Maybe in 756 Onuist was trying to establish himself as king of Britain, but was nearly destroyed. This interpretation might also explain the terms of reference in the account in the legend: it is not referred to as 'Picts v. English', but as Onuist v. nearly all peoples in the island of Britain. It is as if Onuist was trying to establish a more powerful monarchy, and everyone else feared him and wished to destroy him. But that is just a bit of a guess!

None of this really helps explain the saltire specifically. Also, although Andrew was clearly a very important saint to St Andrews itself and some Pictish kings, it is not clear that Andrew became patron saint of Scotland (or that there was any patron saint as such) until the eve of the wars of independence. It all depends what is meant by 'patron saint' of a 'country/nation'.
Dauvit Broun, 2 July 2006

The saltire as the flag of St. Andrew

A saltire of any colour combinations is Andrew's.
Željko Heimer, 15 January 2001

Assuming "Saint Alban" isn't just another name for Saint Andrew, there appears to be more than one Saint on the list with a Saltire. Apart from the English custom to indicate all centred crosses as "Saint George'(s) Crosses" and all saltires as "Saint Andrew's Crosses", what do you base this comment on?
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 January 2001

I can't give you citations from references, but if you take a look at any lexicon regarding the cross, you'll find graphical representation of several cross types there. And, there the cross with oblique bars would be attributed to St. Andrew, I'm sure, without any special reference to Scotish flag. Another example would be a railroad crossing traffic sign. At least in continental Europe it is in form of diagonally crossed red and white bars, and is called Andrew's cross, as far as I am aware, in many European languages. And the Russian Naval ensign is called "andreevski" i.e. Andrew's flag.

Referring to a remark that a Saint Andrew's cross has arms that are perpendicular, and which are at 45 degrees to the edges of the flag, I believe that it is not so, meaning that there is no need for a diagonal cross to have perpendicular bars at 45 degrees to the edges. As far as I am aware, the representation of St. Andrew in church iconography much more often shows the Saint with his diagonal cross being of a shape similar to vertically hoisted Scottish flag.
Željko Heimer, 17 January 2001

About St. Andrew

[Note: this was originally written for an Anglican audience. There was no intention to offend or exclude people of other faiths, merely to inform people within a particular church context. An updated version of this article can be found at the Saints and Seasons webpage.]

The first-called Apostle
Protokletos, or first-called, is the byname given to the Apostle Andrew in the early Greek Church. This comes from the fact that in John's Gospel he is the first disciple named. (John 1:40) He and another (unnamed) disciple of John the Baptist were present when, on the day after the Lord's baptism, John saw Jesus walking past and said: "Look, the Lamb of God." The two then spent the day with Jesus. Andrew's first action was to call his brother Simon, saying: "We have found the Messiah." Jesus, on seeing Simon, said: "You are Simon, son of John(1). You shall be called Cephas(2)."

This passage in John explains the brothers' meeting with Jesus on the shore of Galilee at Bethsaida, rather baldly rendered in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark:
" 'Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed him." (Matthew 4:19,20; Mark 1:17,18)

Andrew (whose feast day is 30 November) seems to have been an approachable fellow: it was he who took the boy with the five barley loaves and two fish to Jesus. And when a party of Greeks wanted to see Jesus, Philip approached Andrew, who arranged things. Elfrida Vipont, writing in Some Christian Festivals, says: "Because of his approachability, and because of his special gift for bringing people to Jesus, St Andrew has always been especially associated with missionary work."

Indeed in later years Andrew is associated with missionary work on the Black Sea shores, although it is in the heart of Greece that he met his end. Tradition asserts that Andrew was crucified at Patras (modern Patrai), on the northern shore of the Greek peninsula known as Morea or the Peloponnese. No date is known; even the Encyclopaedia Britannica refers to it as being around 60/70 (AD). Traditionally Andrew's cross was X-shaped, and it is a convention of ecclesiastical and heraldic art that he either appears with an X-shaped cross, or saltire, or is symbolised by one.

The Roman Emperor Constantius II ordered Andrew's remains removed to Constantinople in 357. During the 8th century some relics were taken to Scotland where they were placed in the care of a monastic settlement founded two centuries earlier in Fife, called first Mucross, then Kilrymont. But after the arrival of Andrew's relics a new church was built there, dedicated to Andrew as patron saint of Scotland, and the place became known St Andrews. And that is how the home of golf came to bear the name of a Galilean fisherman.

Andrew became known as one of the Seven Champions of Christendom, the others being: George, of England; David, of Wales; Patrick, of Ireland; Denis, of France; James (Santiago), of Spain; and Anthony of Padua, of Italy. The cross (saltire) of St Andrew became the badge of Scotland, although it took some time to become fixed in its present colours of white on blue: mediaeval Scottish armies were instructed to place contrasting bands of cloth on their surcoats, white if the surcoat was dark. Today St Andrew's cross not only forms part of Britain's Union Jack, but plays a role in resurgent Russian nationalism, for Andrew is patron of Russia, too. Peter the Great borrowed the Dutch flag and rearranged its colours for Russia's banner, but he also took Scotland's flag and reversed its colours for a naval jack flag.

The rest of Andrew's remains were transferred to Amalfi (40km from Naples), in 1208 and in the 15th century his head went to Rome. In 1964 Pope Paul VI returned the head to Patrai as a gesture of goodwill to the Greek Orthodox Church.

The name Andrew (Andreas, in Greek) means "manly". Some say it must have been a translation of a Hebrew or Aramaic name, but Galilee was a very mixed region and Greek was used more freely there than in Judaea. The name became popular in Scotland long before it was much used in England, but also appears in Spain (Andres), France (Andre), the Netherlands (Andries), Scandinavia (Anders), Russia (Andrei), Poland (Andrzej, pronounced Andjay) and Italy (Andrea). The Italian form is used as a girl's name in English, but since it means "manly" there seems little point. Andrew is also associated with earthquakes, through California's San Andreas Fault - named for a Spanish mission church.

(1) John: in Hebrew, Yochanan. Sometimes translated as Jonah (Simon bar Jonah).

(2) Cephas, or Kefas: Hebrew for "rock"; in Greek, Petros, which has become Peter in English.

Mike Oettle, 21 January 2002

As every body knows flag of Scotland is St. Andrew's flag, which is blue banner with a white saltire cross (St. Andrew's cross). Now, Nova Scotia and Russian Navy are using the same St. Andrew's flags, but reversed colors (white banner with a blue saltire cross). The only difference is that Nova Scotia has the Scottish Coat of Arms in the center of the saltire. Technially, all of these countries could call those flags the St. Andrew's flags.  Which is the real one?
"Georgiy", 11 June, 2003

I may get some argument on this, but in my opinion it's either or both and more. What makes it a St. Andrew's cross is not the color scheme but the diagonal orientation, commemorating the legend that Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross. It seems to me that a flag bearing a St. Andrew's cross is a St. Andrew's flag, regardless of the colors, if that's the symbolism the flag designer intended. On the other hand, if a flag designer puts a yellow saltire on blue and intends it to represent St. Alban, then the flag is not a St. Andrew's flag.
Joe McMillan, 11 June 2003

In 17th century Scotland, the colours carried by the infantry regiments that fought against Cromwell in 1648-50 are in a wide variety of colours. There are yellow saltires on black, black on yellow, white on red, red on white, white on yellow, white on black, white on green, red on yellow, yellow on red, white on blue and red quartered, yellow and white quartered on blue, and for those with no imagination, white saltires on blue :-). The choice of colours appears to be have dictated by the livery colours of the colonel. So at that time, it would seem that it was the saltire itself that was the 'national identifier', rather than it having to be a white saltire on a blue (of whatever colour) field.

On the same theme, there is a 16th Century manuscript in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague, which contains a roll of the arms of Scottish noblemen (Ms. 130 B 12; internal evidence dates it to c.1592). The first folio shows the arms of the King. The sinister unicorn supporter carries a banner of the arms, but the dexter supporter carries a banner which is barry of six gules and or a saltire argent overall. Or in other words, a saltire placed on the heraldic livery colours of the arms. There is a photo of the page in The Double Tressure, the journal of the Scottish Heraldry Society, issue 10 (1988) on page 23.
Ian Sumner, 12 June 2003

See also:

Use of the flag

July 1st 1999 was a very special day for Scotland and her people: after nearly three hundred years Scots regained the right to govern themselves, with the opening of the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh. It was a day full of flags, mainly the Saltire of Scotland, but with lots of others. The palace of Holyrood House was flying the new Scottish royal standard (at least "new" in terms of being used) while the queen was in residence. Edinburgh Castle was flying the Union Flag as a royal fortress and the General Assembly building, the temporary home of the new parliament, was flying the Union Flag on its left tower and the Saltire on its right tower (it has a twin-towered gateway).
Graham Bartram
, 4 July 1999

The "Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia" notes that the Saltire: blue with a white diagonal cross, is the flag of St. Andrew, patron of Scotland. It is the correct flag for Scots or Scottish corporate bodies to demonstrate their loyalty and nationality.
Randy Young, 19 March 2004

Of the flags of England, Scotland and Wales only the Scottish Saltire is, established by (Scottish) Constitutional Law, the Cross of St George is (as David states) established by custom and practice and the Welsh Dragon by Order in Council? In this instance I am taking the phrase "Constitutional Law" to mean 'Parliamentary Law', and not for a moment forgetting both the importance of "custom and practice" in English common law, and the legal status of a Royal Order in Council issued under the Royal Prerogative.
Christopher Southworth, 15 April 2004

Possibly the largest Scottish saltire "raised" can be seen in this image, from the Six Nations rugby tournament in Sydney, Australia, 2004.
Colin Dobson, 28 September 2004

The Sunday Times reported:
"Last year the First Minister (Jack McConnell) introduced a policy (23 November 2004) of flying the Saltire above all public buildings to instill national pride and to promote the country to foreigners. The flag is displayed at the Parliament, at Bute House, the First Minister's official residence and at Scottish Executive offices."

Some other examples of how the saltire is used include:

  • flag poles outside Perth's library and on a flag pole high up on the main Perth & Kinross Council building, at least three hotels and on Perth's museum.
  • Perth's football (soccer) stadium when it hosts a international football (soccer) match, involving Scotland.
  • Balhousie Castle in which the region's British Army infantry Regiment (Black Watch), has its museum has on its highest point, only a large Saltire flying from a flag pole. Five weeks ago, the Black Watch recruited in Perth's High Street. The exhibition trailer they used had two short flag poles, with two large Saltires and a billboard with poster depicting a large Saltire. Underneath the poster's Saltire were photos of infantry soldiers, armoured vehicles and the large words "SCOTTISH INFANTRY". There seemed to be no sign of a Union flag.
  • The Black Watch, which has only one battalion, the 1st, while in Iraq occupied a base named Camp Dogwood where the base's flag flying from a tall flagpole was a Saltire and not a Union flag.
  • It is common for a Scottish Regiment's armoured vehicles to have a small painted Saltire, on their turrets and trucks often have a painted Saltire on a bumper.
  • Five of the Black Watch were killed during this operation, four Scots and one Fijian. Television and newspaper reports of the two funerals, I saw showed each coffin, having a Saltire draped over it.
  • In July 2005, a Norwegian three masted tall ship visited Montrose and in June 2002, a Danish three masted tall ship visited Dundee. Both, flew a Saltire as the courtesy flag.
  • The Scot 100 South Pole Expedition, a dedicated Scottish expedition ended successfully in December 2004. Craig Mathieson who skied most of the way across Antarctica solo, flew a Saltire on reaching the South Pole.
Thomas Murray, 2 October 2005

A Scottish Parliament Flag?

The Magazine "Scotland on Sunday" reported discussion on the introduction of a flag for the Scottish Parliament.  It was reported that Members of Scottsih Parliament (MSPs) want to create a distinctive emblem to fly over Holyrood in a bid to promote its identity and restore pride. Among the new designs expected to be considered by the parliamentís cross-party housekeeping group is a version of the parliamentís existing logo, which features a Saltire against a purple backdrop with a crown above and cords to each side. Some Scottish Nationalist MSPs, however, are opposed to the idea, believing that as Scotlandís national flag, only the Saltire should fly above Holyrood.

Extracted from Scotland on Sunday, (click here for full article) located by Phil Nelson, 3 January 2003

In response to this article, and a query directed to the Scottish Parliament, the following reply was received:

"The article that appeared in Scotland on Sunday in December 2002 refers to 'new designs expected to be considered by the parliament's cross-party housekeeping group'. I can confirm that the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB - the 'cross-party housekeeping group') did consider the issue of having a parliamentary flag, but the matter is not currently a priority and I believe that it has not been taken any further. Should it wish to do so, the new SPCB elected by the new Parliament in May could consider the issue again in the future.
I hope that this will be of assistance.
Elizabeth Cantlie
Public Information Service, The Scottish Parliament

Sean McKinnis, 4 April 2003

The Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, George Reid MSP, replied to a question I sent to him. Here is his brief response:

Thank you for your interest in the subject of a Scottish Parliament flag. The Scottish Parliament has been granted armorial bearings from the Lord Lyon and a flag can be developed from this if required. This issue was last discussed by the Corporate Body in April 2002 but no formal decision has been taken regarding the matter.

Sean McKinniss, 12 August 2003