Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Flag of Scotland
The national flag of Scotland features a white saltire, a Crux decussata (X-shaped cross) representing the cross of the Christian martyr Saint Andrew (Scotland's patron saint) on a blue field. It is often known as Saint Andrew's Cross. In heraldic language, it may be blazoned Azure, a saltire argent.
The Scottish flag is one of the oldest flags in the world, dating back to the 9th century. Legend has it that in c832AD King Hungus (or Angus) led the Picts and Scots in battle against the Angles under Athelstan. Hungus and his men were surrounded and he prayed for deliverance. During the night Saint Andrew, who was martyred on a diagonal cross, appeared to Hungus and assured him of victory. On the morrow a white saltire against the background of a blue sky appeared to both sides. The Picts and Scots were heartened by this but the Angles took fright and were defeated. The saltire has been the Scottish flag ever since.
There is no official definition of the exact shade of blue which should be used as the field. At various times colours as light as sky blue or as dark as dark navy have been used (a selection apparently motivated by which colour of blue dye was cheapest at the time), although recent versions have largely converged on the unofficial recommendation of Pantone 300. In 2003 a committee of the Scottish Parliament urged the Scottish Executive to adopt this colour as a voluntary standard (PE512). It is important that the blue is of a lighter shade than that of the Union Flag. The flag proportion is not fixed but is generally taken as 5:3 or 3:2, the former being preferred. The cross should have a width of 1/5 of the height of the flag.
The Scottish saltire and field is one of the components of the Union Flag. A reversed version (blue saltire on a white field) is to be found in the naval jack of Russia used before and after the Soviet Union St Andrew is also a patron saint of Russia. Additionally the blue saltire on white design is featured on the Coat of Arms of Nova Scotia, Canada and its flag, but the blue used for Nova Scotia is generally a light blue.
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