The Full Wiki

Flag of Scotland: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

The Flag of Scotland, also known as the Saint Andrew's Cross or more commonly The Saltire, is the national flag of Scotlandmarker. As the national flag, the Saltire differs from Scotland's state flag, the Royal Standard of Scotland, in that the Saltire is the correct flag for all individuals and corporate bodies to fly in order to demonstrate both their loyalty and nationality. It is also flown from Scottish Government buildings every day, with certain exceptions, from 8am until sunset.

The white saltire, or crux decussata, (from the Latin crux: cross, and decussis: the numeral 10), was first used as a symbol of Scotland in 1180, during the reign of William I, and historical evidence shows that a celestial blue background has been applied to flags depicting the Saltire since the early C16th; one such example appearing in the Register of Scottish Arms by Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount, circa 1542. However, other colours for the flag's backround, including red and black, have also been recorded. The legend surrounding Scotland's association with the Saltire dates from a C9th battle, where Óengus II led a combined force of Picts and Scots to victory over the Angles, led by Æthelstan. Representing the X-shaped cross upon which the Christian martyr Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, was crucified, the Saint Andrew's Cross is one of Scotland's most recognisable symbols.


Saltire with sky blue field.
Saltire with navy blue field.
The Scottish heraldic term for an X-shaped cross is a 'saltire', from the old French word saultoir meaning a type of stirrup. In heraldic language, it may be blazoned Azure, a saltire argent. The tincture of the Saltire can appear as either silver (Argent) or white, however the term Azure does not refer to a particular shade of blue.

Since the C16th, shades of blue ranging from sky blue to navy blue have been used for the flag's background; the shade of blue most likely being determined by the dye available at the time. When incorporated as part of the Union Flag during the C17th, the navy blue used for Union Flags destined for maritime use was probably selected on the basis of the durability of darker shades of dye. However, this shade soon became standard on Union Flags both at sea and on land, with some flag manufacturers even selecting the same navy blue colour trend of the Union Flag for the Saltire itself. This resulted in a variety of shades of blue being depicted on the flag of Scotland, leading to calls being made to standardise the colour of Scotland's national flag.

In 2003, a committee of the Scottish Parliamentmarker met to examine a petition that the Scottish Government adopt the Pantone 300 colour as a standard. (Note that this blue is of a lighter shade than the Pantone 280 of the Union Flag.) Having taken advice from a number of sources including the office of the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the committee recommended that the optimum shade of blue for the Saltire should be Pantone 300. Recent versions of the Saltire have therefore largely converged on this official recommendation. (Pantone 300 is, 0, 114, 198 in the RGB colour model, or #0072C6 as hexadecimal web colours).

The flag proportions are not fixed, but are generally taken to be 1:2, 2:3, 3:5 or 4:5. The bars in the cross in all cases should be 1/5 (i.e. 20%) of the flag width.


According to legend, in 832 A.D. Óengus II led the Picts and Scots into battle against the Angles, led by Æthelstan, near modern-day Athelstanefordmarker, East Lothianmarker. Throughout the night before the battle, Óengus prayed to God for victory on the field, and vowed that if victorious he would make Saint Andrew the Patron Saint of Scotland, (a position akin to that then held by St Columba). On the morning of the battle, white clouds forming an X shape in the sky were seen by both armies. The Picts and Scots were heartened by this, however the Angles regarded the phenomenon with some trepidation. Emboldened by this apparent divine blessing, Óengus took to the field and the Angles, despite having a superior force in terms of numbers, were defeated.

With the formation of white clouds being interpreted as the X-shaped cross upon which Saint Andrew was crucified, Óengus honoured his pre-battle pledge and duly appointed Saint Andrew the Patron Saint of Scotland. The white saltire set against a celestial blue background is said to have been adopted as the design of the flag of Scotland as a result of the legend of King Angus II (Óengus II).

The earliest use of the Saltire as a symbol of Scotland can be traced to 1180, however material evidence for the Saltire being used as a flag, as opposed to appearing on another object such as a seal, brooch or surcoat, dates from somewhat later. The earliest reference to the Saint Andrew's Cross as a flag is to be found in the Vienna Book of Hours, circa 1503, where a white saltire is depicted albeit with a red background. Further evidence shows that by 1542 a blue background was also used for the Saltire when depicted as the flag of Scotland. An even earlier example known as the "Blue Blanket of the Trades of Edinburghmarker", reputedly made by Queen Margaret, wife of James III (1451-1488), also shows a white saltire on a blue field, however in this case the Saltire is not the only emblem to be portrayed.


Use by the Scottish Government

The Scottish Government has decreed that the Saltire will fly on all its buildings every day from 8am until sunset. An exception is made for United Kingdommarker "national days", when on buildings where only one flagpole is present the Saltire shall be lowered and replaced with the Union Flag. Such flag days are standard throughout the United Kingdom, with the exception of Merchant Navy Day, (3 September), which is a specific flag day in Scotland during which the Red Ensign of the Merchant Navy may be flown on land in place of either the Saltire or Union Flag.

A further Scottish distinction from UK flag days is that on Saint Andrew's Day, (30 November), the Union Flag will only be flown where a building has more than one flagpole - the Saltire will not be lowered to make way for the Union Flag where a single flagpole is present. This distinction arose after Members of the Scottish Parliament complained that Scotland was the only country in the world where the potential existed for the citizens of a country to be unable to fly their national flag on their country's national day.

Use by military institutions on land

The seven British Army Infantry battalions of the Scottish Division plus the Scots Guards and Royal Scots Dragoon Guards regiments use the Saltire in a variety of forms. Combat and transport vehicles of these Army units are frequently adorned with a small, (130x80mm approx.), representation of the Saltire; such decals being displayed on the front and/or rear of the vehicle. (On tanks these can be also be displayed on the vehicle turret). In Iraqmarker, during both Operation Granby and the subsequent Operation Telic, the Saltire was often flown from the communications whip antenna of vehicles belonging to these units. Funerals, conducted with full military honours, of casualties of these operations in Iraq have also included the Saltire; the flag being draped over the coffin of the deceased on such occasions.

In the battle for "hearts and minds" in Iraq, the Saltire was again used by the British Army as a means of distinguishing troops belonging to Scottish regiments from other coalition forces in the hope of fostering better relations between, in this case, soldiers from the Black Watch and the Iraqi population in the area south west of Baghdadmarker. Leaflets were produced for distribution to Iraqi civilians by members of the Black Watch, depicting troops and vehicles against a backdrop of the Saltire.

In the period immediately prior to and following the controversial merger in March 2006 of Scotland's historic infantry regiments to form a single Royal Regiment of Scotland, a multi-million-pound advertising campaign was launched in Scotland in an attempt to attract recruits to join the reorganised and simultaneously rebranded "Scottish Infantry". The recruitment campaign employed the Saltire in the form of a logo; the words "SCOTTISH INFANTRY. FORWARD AS ONE." being placed next to a stylised image of the Saltire fluttering in a breeze. For the duration of the campaign, this logo was used in conjunction with the traditional Army recruiting logo; the words "ARMY. BE THE BEST." being placed beneath a stylised representation of the Union Flag fluttering in the breeze. Despite this multi-media campaign having had mixed results in terms of overall success, Recruits turn their backs on army Ian Bruce. Defence Correspondent. The Herald. 2005-08-09. Accessed 2009-06-01
Recruits down 15% as Army severs local links Ian Bruce. Defence Correspondent. The Herald. 2007-09-19. Accessed 2009-06-01 the Saltire continues to appear on a variety of Army recruiting media used in Scotland.

Other uses of the Saltire by the Army include the cap badge design of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, which consists of a (silver) Saltire, surmounted by both a (gilt) lion rampant and a representation of the Crown of Scotland. (This same design, save for the Crown, is used on both the Regimental flag File: Flag - III Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland
The Golden Lions Scottish Infantry Parachute Display Team image at and tactical recognition flash of the Royal Regiment of Scotland).

The Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy adorn three of their aircraft with the Saltire. Specifically, the Westland Sea King Mk5 aircraft of HMS Gannet, operating in the Search and Rescue role from Royal Naval Air Station Prestwickmarker, Ayrshiremarker, display a Saltire decal on the nose of each aircraft.

Although not represented in the form of a flag, the No. 602 Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force uses the Saltire surmounted by a lion rampant as the device shown on the squadron crest, and the station crest of RAF Leucharsmarker, Fifemarker, also shows the Saltire, in this case surmounted by a sword.

General use

Planning permission to fly the Saltire from a vertical flagpole is not required, therefore it can be flown at any time by any individual, company, local authority, hospital or school. In recent years, embassies of the United Kingdom have flown the Saltire to mark St Andrew's Day.

Many local authorities in Scotland fly the Saltire, including Glasgow City Council, which flies the flag from the City Chambers building in George Square, and the City of Edinburgh Council, which flies the flag from their own City Chambers. In 2007 Angusmarker Council led by Robert Myles decided to replace the Saltire on Council Buildings and replace it with a new Angus flag, based on the council's coat of arms. This move led to public outcry across Scotland with more than 7,000 people signing a petition opposing the council's move, leading to a compromise whereby the Angus flag would not replace but be flown alongside the Saltire on Council Buildings.

Unusually, the ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne flies the Saltire as a Jack on vessels which have a bow staff, including when such vessels are underway. The world famous Paddle Steamer Waverley also adopts this practice when operating in and around the Firth of Clydemarker.

The practice of maritime vessels adopting the Saltire, for use as a jack or courtesy flag, may lead to possible confusion in that the Saltire closely resembles the maritime signal flag M, "MIKE", which is used to indicate "My vessel is stopped and making no way through the water". However, so as to avoid confusion and a possible fine, owners of vessels wishing to display an alternative flag to that of the Saltire have resorted to unofficial use of either the Royal Standard of Scotland or the historic Scottish Red Ensign. Last used by the pre-1707 Royal Scots Navy and merchant marine fleets, the Scottish Red Ensign now appears in the catalogues of several flag manufacturers, due to its increased popularity among private citizens for use on water.

Many bodies of the Scottish Government use the flag as a design basis; for example, Safer Scotland's emblem depicts a lighthouse shining beams in a saltire shape onto a blue sky. Other Scottish companies have also used the saltire in similar ways.

Use outside Scotland

Inverse representations, (blue saltire on a white field), of the Scottish Saltire are also used outside Scotland. In Canadamarker, an inverse representation of the Saltire, combined with the shield from the Royal Arms of the Kingdom of Scotland, forms the modern flag of the Canadian Province of Nova Scotiamarker, the first colonial venture of the Kingdom of Scotland into the Americas.

In Russiamarker, during the period before and after the Soviet Unionmarker, the naval ensign of the Russian Navy has been an inverse representation of the Cross of Saint Andrew. (Saint Andrew is also a patron saint of Russia). The very same Saltire was also flown as the flag of Galiciamarker in Spainmarker until 1891, when Russia requested the Galician flag to be modified in order to avoid confusion between Galician ships and Russian Navy ships. The current Galician flag is actually the original blue-over-white saltire but without one of the arms of the cross.

The U.S. state of Alabama's flag is officially "a crimson cross of St. Andrew on a field of white", however the reference is used only to describe the shape without using the vexillological term saltire. Similarly, the Spanishmarker island of Tenerife and the remote Colombianmarker islands of San Andrés and Providencia also use the saltire on their flags. In Polandmarker, the official banner of the city of Krakówmarker, (twinned with Edinburghmarker), feature the coat if arms of Kraków overlying a white saltire on a blue field. The Dutchmarker municipality of Sint-Oedenrodemarker, named after the Scottish princess Saint Oda, also uses the Saltire as the basis of its flag.

The Scottish Saltire is also used unofficially by students and graduates of Xavier Universitymarker because of the university's blue and white official colours and the resemblance of the flag to the letter "X". It is also the flag for St. Andrew's Scots School, Argentina (founded in 1838) and its "spinoff" university Universidad de San Andrés.

In Northern Irelandmarker, sections of the Protestant community routinely employ the Saltire as a means of demonstrating and celebrating their Ulster-Scots heritage.

Incorporation into the Union Flag

The Flag of Scotland is one of the key components of the Union Flag, which has been used in a variety of forms since 1606, when the Flag of Scotland and the Flag of England were first merged to symbolise the Union of the Crowns. (The Union of the Crowns having occurred in 1603, when James VI, King of Scots, acceded to the thrones of both England and Ireland). In objecting to the 1606 design of the Union Flag, whereby the cross of Saint George surmounted that of Saint Andrew, a group of Scots took up the matter with John Erskine, 18th Earl of Mar, and were encouraged by him to send a letter of complaint, via the Privy Council of Scotland, to James VI, which stated that the flag's design "will breid some heit and miscontentment betwix your Majesties subjectis, and it is to be feirit that some inconvenientis sail fall oute betwix thame, for our seyfaring men cannot be inducit to resave that flage as it is set down". Although documents accompanying this complaint containing draughts for alternative flag designs have been lost, evidence of an alternative Scottish variant, where by the Scottish cross was uppermost, does exist. This version may have seen limited and possibly unofficial use in Scotland before 1707, including on one occasion in 1617 where in welcoming James VI to Dumfriesmarker, the Town Commissar was reported to have stated "Your Royall Majestie, in whose sacred person the King of kings hath miraculouslie united so many glorious Kingdoms, under whose Scepter the whyte and reid crocies are so proprtionablie interlaced". This description of the crosses being "so proportionablie interlaced" is interpreted by some as evidence of a Scottish version of the union flag, however others dispute this interpretation.
Actual use of this flag is suggested in the depiction of Edinburgh Castlemarker by John Slezer, in his series of engravings entitled Theatrum Scotiae, c. 1693. Appearing in later editions of Theatrum Scotiae, this engraving depicts the Scotch (to use the appropriate adjective of that period) version of the Union Flag flying from the Castle Clock Tower. Such a design is described in the 1704 edition of The Present State of the Universe by John Beaumont, Junior, which contains as an appendix The Ensigns, Colours or Flags of the Ships at Sea: Belonging to The several Princes and States in the World. Within this appendix, the flag's blazon is given as "Azure, a Cross gules, fimbriated, argent; over all a Saltier of the last". This blazon is described elsewhere as "On a blue shield (field?) of Scotland the red cross of St. George fimbriated with its white field, surmounted by the white cross of St. Andrew".

On 17 April 1707, just two weeks prior to the Acts of Union coming into effect, and with Sir Henry St George, Garter King of Arms, having presented seven designs of flag to Queen Anne and her Privy Council for consideration, the flag for the soon to be unified Kingdom of Great Britainmarker was chosen. Along with that version finally selected, the designs for consideration had included that version of Union Flag showing the Cross of Saint Andrew uppermost; identified as being the "Scotts union flagg as said to be used by the Scotts". Despite bold lobbying on the part of the Scots representatives to the Privy Council, all their efforts were to be in vain, for that version of Union Flag showing the Cross of Saint George uppermost was destined to win the day.

From 1801, in order to symbolise the union of the Kingdom of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland, a new design which included the St Patrick's Cross was adopted for the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Irelandmarker. The Flag of the United Kingdom, having remained unchanged following the partition of Ireland in 1921 and creation of the Irish Free State and Northern Irelandmarker, continues to be used as the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irelandmarker.

File:Flag of Scotland.svg|The Saltire, the flag of Scotlandmarker: A white saltire on a blue field. (Shown is the Scottish Parliamentary Committee's recommended shade of blue: Pantone 300).File:Union Jack 1606 Scotland.svg|Scottish Union Flag. A Scottish variant of the 1606 Union Flag used in the Kingdom of Scotland from the early C16th until 1707, following the Union of the Crowns in 1603.File:Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg|The Union Flag used in the Kingdom of England from 1606 and, following the Acts of Union between Scotland and England, the flag of the Kingdom of Great Britainmarker from 1707-1800.File:Flag of the United Kingdom (3-5).svg|Union Flag used since 1801, incorporating the Cross of Saint Patrick, following the Act of Union between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland in 1800.

Royal Standard of Scotland

The Royal Standard of Scotland, also known as the Banner of the King of Scots or Lion Rampant of Scotland, is the flag used historically by the King of Scots. As a state flag, it remains the personal banner of the monarch and use of this flag is restricted under the Act of the Parliament of Scotland 1672 cap. 47 and 30 & 31 Vict. cap. 17.

Despite the legal restrictions concerning the use of this flag, it is often regarded as a second, albeit unofficial, national flag for Scotland, most often seen at sporting events.

See also


  1. Court of the Lord Lyon website Retrieved on 28 November 2009
  2. SCRAN website Retrieved 28 November 2009
  3. Scottish Government website From 8am till sunset - The Saltire should now where possible be flown every day from Scottish Government buildings. Retrieved on 28 November 2009
  4. National Archives of Scotland website It was used on seals in Scotland from about 1180 onwards, sometimes along with the lion rampant, which was the heraldic symbol of the Scottish crown. Retrieved 28 November 2009
  5. SCRAN website Retrieved 28 November 2009
  6. Flag Institute The Story of Scotland's Flags Bartram. G. n.d. n.p. Retrieved 30 November 2009
  7. National Archives of Scotland website Retrieved 28 November 2009
  8. The Royal Regiment of Scotland website "The new cap badge incorporates two of Scotland's most recognisable symbols, the Saltire and the Lion Rampant". Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  9. website
  10. Civic Heraldry website Retrieved 30 November 2009
  11. The Scotsman The Scotsman Parliament to set standard colour for Saltire Retrieved 28 November 2009
  12. The Scotsman MSPs are feeling blue over shady Saltire business Retrieved 28 November 2009
  13. University of Edinburgh School of Law Retrieved 28 November 2009
  14. The Scottish Government - Flag Flying Guidance website Retrieved 30 November 2009
  15. "Royal and ceremonial"/
  16. BBC News- "Ministers agree flag day review"
  17. Image of Saltire on tank turret
  18. MoD Image 1 MoD Image 2
  19. Palace Barracks Memorial Garden Accessed 2009-05-31
  20. Accessed 2009-5-31
  21. Scottish Infantry, forward as one. Scottish recruitment campaign television advert. (
  22. No.602 Sqn RAuxAF Badge
  23. Retrieved 01 December 2009
  24. Scottish Government Retrieved 01 December 2009
  25. Scotland
  26. Forfar Dispatch. URL accessed 05 February 2008.
  27. CalMac image of MV Jupiter Retrieved 01 December 2009
  28. Waverley Excursions image Retrieved 01 December 2009
  29. Mail on Sunday article November 25 2007 - partial c/o Accessed July 24 2008
  30. FOTW Accessed July 24 2008
  31. The Flag Loft Accessed 24 July 2008
  32. Scots Independent - The "Scottish Red Ensign" shown here flying on the Jean de la Lune in Leith Docks, is making a comeback! Accessed July 24 2008
  33. Mr Flag Accessed 24 July 2008
  34. [ Scottish Government website} Retrieved 01 December 2009
  35. Galician Flag Retrieved 01 december 2009
  36. State of Alabama Retrieved 01 december 2009
  37. Universidad de San Andrés image gallery Retrieved 01 December 2009
  38. CAIN Web Service, University of Ulster Retrieved 01 December 2009
  39. Scots History Online
  40. Royal Website
  41. Flag Institute
  42. Full text at 'The Internet Archive'
  43. Scottish variant" at Flags of the World
  44. Google books: "This flag had official recognition"
  45. Google books: "Unofficial 1606 Scottish Union Flag"
  46. Googel books
  47. Google books
  48. de Burton, Simon "How Scots lost battle of the standard" (9 November 1999) The Scotsman. Edinburgh. Retrieved 30 June 2009.
  49. Flags of the World
  50. "The Lion Rampant"

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address