Scotland's Flags

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The origins of Scotland’s Flag, and the Red Lion of Scotland

Scotland’s Flag

The Flag of Scotland is also known as the Saint Andrew's Cross or the Saltire because the cross goes diagonally from corner to corner. The Scotland’s Flag is one of the oldest flags in the world. According to legend the Martyr (Saint) Andrew, who was also a Christian Apostle, and was originally a follower of the John the Baptist before becoming one of Jesus Christ Apostle. He was also the brother of (Saint) Peter. The Scotland Flag is X-shaped white cross   on a blue background. The white cross represents – peace and honesty. The blue background represents vigilance, truth and loyalty as well as perseverance and justice. St. Andrew’s day is celebrated on the 30th November.

As well as being the Patron Saint of Scotland, he is also the Patron Saint of Greece, Ukraine, Romania and Russia as well as a number of other lands. Like Jesus, he was also crucified, but he had requested that he be crucified on a cross different to that of his leader and Jesus Christ, because he felt that in he was in no way worthy of being crucified on the same type of cross that Christ had died on. So Andrew was crucified on a diagonal cross, and unlike Christ, he was bound to the cross and not nailed. He was crucified in A.D 60 in Patras (Patrae) in Greece, by the Roman's whom, like Jesus they had come to fear, and despite being hung on the cross for several days, he still continued to preach and is said to have been Martyred at his crucifixion. His remains laid in Patras for over four hundred years.

The Emperor Constantius decided that he wanted Saint Andrew’s remains to be removed from Patrae to a place he felt to be more grander and moved to Constantinople the capital, it was said to have been one of the greatest city in the world in that era. The Saint’s remains were in the keeping of a man called Regulus, a Greek monk, who was visited by an angel in a dream/vision that he had. He was instructed to take Saint Andrew's remains to a faraway land. Saint Regulus was later and became known as (Saint Rule) please also note that (Rule is English for Regulus). He travelled across Europe on a journey which became treacherous and difficult culminating in the ship that he had travelled on getting caught in a storm which was driven and shipwrecked on Muckros in Fife. Muckros became known as Kilrymont and later would become called St. Andrew’s.

Originally Regulus built a small church with modest materials of turf, wood and mud. Later a grand Cathedral would be built in its place; a tower was also built within the Cathedral grounds and was called Saint Rules Tower. At the time of the Monk Regulus’ landing, Scotland was not a single country and split into four Kingdoms, they are as follows, to the North was the Picts, the far West was the Scots, to the West, the Britons and to the South-East was the Angles.

Around 832AD, the Picts in their Kingdom of Piclandwere at war with the Anglo-Saxons, this was headed by the King Angus II against the Northumbrian King Athelstane who is said to have camped in East Lothian, Athelstaneford. King Angus was surrounded by King Athelstane’s army and it seemed he would not have victory. It is said that he prayed for help and deliverance and saw across the clear blue skies a Saltire Cross and he made a vow that if he were to be victorious in his battle, he would make Saint Andrew the Patron Saint of Scotland. Another version was that King Angus had Saint Andrew visit him in a dream and had promised him victory. There are a number of versions, but nonetheless King Argus and his army won the battle despite the original odds against them. From then and thereafter, Saint Andrew became the Patron Saint of Scotland.

It would still be hundreds of years before the actual and Scottish Flag as we now know it would become Scotland’s National Flag. Many Kings, armies, the Governments and Parliaments of Scotland continued to use the Saltire symbol long before the national flag came about, the Saltire was used and was placed on the clothing of soldiers on the front and the back as way of identifying which army and group they belonged to, as well as on Kings and Captains badges, they were also embroidered on the tunics of men and on banners etc. In 1385 the Scottish Parliament made a decree that for identification that Scottish Soldiers would wear the Saint Andrews Cross on them on the front and the back of their clothing. There were variations of the Saltire-Saint Andrew’s Flag being used and it wasn’t until at the very least the 15th century that the blue background was used for the Saint Andrew’s Cross on the National Flag.

Even when Scotland’s national flags were made there were many shades of the colour blue that were used for the background from Sky blue to Navy blue. The standard colour of the blue background of the flag is now Pantone 300 colour. This was because there was a call for the colour of the Scotland’s National Flag to be standardized, this was eventually decided by a committee of the Scottish Parliament in 2003 who recommended that the shade of blue used for the Saltire be the Pantone 300 colour, and be used as standard.

Scotland's National Flag

Red Lion of Scotland

The Lion Rampant of Scotland flag is another old flag from Scotland, its proper name is called the Royal Standard of Scotland. This was the flag of the royal Kings and Queens of Scotland their royal banner.

It is reputed that William I also known as ‘‘the Lion’’ in the 12th Century was the first person to use the Royal Standard. Malcolm III may have used it earlier during his reign in the 11th Century.

The Union of the Crowns of Scotland, England and Ireland was in 1603, and the Royal Standard of Scotland was then incorporated into a new flag, the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom. The Royal Standard that is used in Scotland is different to the one used in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales as well as for overseas. The Royal Standard used in Scotland comprises of two Royal Standard of Scotland images, one Richard the Lionheart image and the coat of arms of Ireland (the harp). Whereas the flag used outside of Scotland and within the rest of the United Kingdom has one Royal Standard of Scotland, two Richard the Lionheart symbols and one Irish coat of arms

Royal Standard Flag