Airdrie Ulster Scots

St Andrew’s Cross – The Saltire


This flag is named after Scotland’s patron Saint, Andrew, a disciple of Christ Jesus and mentioned throughout the New Testament as a good an honourable man. The first thing you will notice about the St Andrews cross is the azure blue background (more on that later) on a white X shaped cross.


The history why the St Andrews cross is shaped like this is that history tells us that he himself was crucified on a X shaped cross at Patras in Greece. The flags use dates back as far as 832 AD. Although the first King to use it in Scotland as a heraldic symbol was William I (1165-1214)


The Picts had it as a local and unifying symbol in the 9thcentury when Oengus II (820-834 AD) led a combined force of both Scots and Picts over the Southern Angles tribes. He had made a solemn vow that if he won the battle he would do all he could to instate Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland. On the day of the battle there was a cloud shape in the form of an X. (Some historians say prior to the battle, some say during and some say after) He saw this as a sign that Andrew should indeed be the Saint of Scotland.


The flag was popularized for use in the late 13thcentury as a seal for the National guardians (or High protectors) of Scotland and was not until the 16th century being used as a national flag.


The colour of the flag is very important, the reason I say this is that I have seen many different variations of the colour blue, from azure, to royal blue and I have also seen many fly the flag of Tenerife which is of course a navy blue. Some mis-interpret the flag’s colour to be the same as that of the Union Flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (Pantone 280)


Yes the current Union Flag was based on the flags of St Andrew, St Patrick and St George; however the standard is now the Azure blue rather than the formally favoured royal blue. In fact the Scottish Government even passed a resolution in 2003 on the correct colour of the flag. (Pantone 300) It may seem like a tedious quarrel; however it is important to get the standard that represents the people of Scotland correct.


The flag has certain political connections and although the flag is flown by most of the mainstream political parties in Scotland alongside the Union Flag, it is uniquely flown alone by the Scottish National Party and the flag is popular with Scottish Nationalists who seek the independence for Scotland from the Act of Union which began in 1707.


The flag is also popular with followers of the Scottish football team, the “Tartan Army” and with followers of the Scottish Rugby teams. You will also see the flag being mis flown on many occasions at these events also. Lastly, the flag is flown alongside the Union flag by our military.


William S. Mc Cafferty