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Vexillopedia

Flag of Scotland

Scotland
Ratio 3:5
Adoption 1503
Design A white satire on a blue field. [0]
Colors
#0065BD
#FFFFFF

History

According to legend, the Christian apostle and martyr Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, was crucified on an X-shaped cross at Patras, (Patrae), in Achaea. Use of the familiar iconography of his martyrdom, showing the apostle bound to an X-shaped cross, first appears in the Kingdom of Scotland in 1180 during the reign of William I. It was again depicted on seals used during the late 13th century, including on one used by the Guardians of Scotland, dated 1286.

Using a simplified symbol which does not depict St. Andrew's image, the saltire or crux decussata, (from the Latin crux, 'cross', and decussis, 'having the shape of the Roman numeral X'), began in the late 14th century. In June 1385, the Parliament of Scotland decreed that Scottish soldiers serving in France would wear a white Saint Andrew's Cross, both in front and behind, for identification.

The earliest reference to the Saint Andrew's Cross as a flag is found in the Vienna Book of Hours, circa 1503, in which a white saltire is depicted with a red background. In the case of Scotland, use of a blue background for the Saint Andrew's Cross is said to date from at least the 15th century, with the first certain illustration of a flag depicting such appearing in Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount's Register of Scottish Arms, circa 1542.

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 Óengus II led a combined force of Picts and Scots to victory over the Angles, led by Æthelstan. Supposedly, a miraculous white saltire appeared in the blue sky and Óengus' troops were roused to victory by the omen. Consisting of a blue background over which is placed a white representation of an X-shaped cross, the Saltire is one of Scotland's most recognisable symbols. [0]

Meaning

See History.