Athelstaneford and the legend of the Saltire

Athelstaneford in East Lothian is supposedly the birthplace of Scotland’s flag, the St Andrew’s Cross or Saltire. Legend has it that in 832, an army of Picts under King Angus were being pursued by a larger army of Anglo-Saxons under Athelstan. Angus prayed for help and was rewarded by a white cloud in the shape of a saltire (the diagonal cross on which St Andrew was martyred) in the blue sky. He vowed that if Andrew led him to victory he would become the patron saint of Scotland. The rest is, allegedly, history.

The Flag Heritage Centre commemorating this has to be the smallest museum I’ve ever been in! It’s a lectern-shaped doocot (dovecote) behind the parish church with a door you have to bend down to enter. Inside, a short audiovisual presentation dramatises the story. The viewpoint beside it looks over the fields, and in the churchyard there’s a memorial (1965) showing the battle scene. Both sport saltires blowing in the breeze. This didn’t take long to visit, but it was a lovely experience.

25 thoughts on “Athelstaneford and the legend of the Saltire

  1. Alex Hurst May 18, 2015 / 01:00

    The flag centre is adorable!! And hey, one of my friends is in Glasgow right now, so I’m thinking about your A-Z posts every day. 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh May 18, 2015 / 07:38

      Fantastic! I hope your friend has a great time. The current weather leaves a lot to be desired unfortunately…..

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jazzfeathers May 14, 2015 / 15:53

    Is the museum that little house in the first pic? That’s so lovely! It actually looks like an all around lovely place 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh May 14, 2015 / 20:37

      That’s it! The doocot – originally a home for doves.


  3. Eli May 14, 2015 / 11:44

    That’s an interesting story- I think Norway and Scotland has some crossing points in the history back then…..:-) Looks like a lovely place- I would love to visit that museum:-)


    • Anabel Marsh May 14, 2015 / 12:17

      Yes, there were lots of interconnections between the countries over the centuries. It was certainly an interesting place – I haven’t been to anything quite like it.


  4. dmlsexton May 14, 2015 / 07:26

    Quite a charming story/legend it doesn’t quite matter which. The museum is also quite charming.


    • Anabel Marsh May 14, 2015 / 07:53

      It is! It’s also a very pretty village. We were delighted by the whole place.


  5. Celine Jeanjean May 14, 2015 / 03:02

    I didn’t know that was the story behind Scotland’s flag. I always thought flags were chose rather arbitrarily, but this makes me think I should look into the background of the French flag and other UK flags too.


    • Anabel Marsh May 14, 2015 / 07:50

      I’m sure they all have some sort of story. Probably the sort of thing I learnt in school and have now totally forgotten!


  6. Birgit May 13, 2015 / 22:20

    That is a tiny museum. I love the fields picture. The linear look has my eyes doing tricks. The last picture of the gravestone is quite neat-I love graveyards and gravestones


    • Anabel Marsh May 13, 2015 / 22:24

      I loved the lines in the fields, also the skull and crossbones. I enjoy graveyards too.


  7. Paul May 13, 2015 / 21:29

    I really enjoy your daily blogs 😀 With this one I’m going to side with “legend”. Last year I read a little about Athelstan and if I remember correctly he did come to Scotland with an army however it was in the 900s some time. Was he even born in 832? Good story though!


  8. Nadine May 13, 2015 / 16:05

    Now THAT’s a tiny museum!


    • Anabel Marsh May 13, 2015 / 16:22

      Yes, I’m glad there were only two of us. Three would definitely have been a crowd.


  9. Heyjude May 13, 2015 / 15:21

    Cute building and I like the story. Always nice to hear some historical facts.


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