Scottish Flag Heritage Centre

Scottish Flag Monument, Athelstaneford
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Scottish Flag Monument, Athelstaneford

Located in the 16th Century Hepburn Doo'cot behind Athelstaneford Parish Church, the Scottish Flag Heritage Centre is a tiny interpretation centre, funded by the Scottish Flag Trust. The Trust had been founded in 1992 to restore the Saltire Monument, but following the success of their appeal for funds the surplus money was diverted towards the creation of the heritage centre. Opened in 1997, the centre uses an audio-visual display to explain how the Cross of St. Andrew or Saltire became the flag of Scotland.

This came about following the Battle of Athelstaneford, which is thought to have taken place c.815 AD. between the Pictish King Hungus and the Saxon King Athelstane, who came from Northumbria. It is said that a white cross appeared against the blue sky, and that this inspired the Picts to victory and the symbol was later adopted as the flag of Scotland.

The Saltire Monument, located at the roadside in the southeast corner of the church yard, was erected in 1965. Built to the design of the late Dr. F.R. Stevenson, it was restored by the Scottish Flag Trust in 1993. The monument includes a panel showing the opposing armies facing each other, with the saltire in the sky above. A saltire flies permanently over the monument and is flood-lit during the hours of darkness.

The inscription on the monument states:

"Tradition says that near this place, in times remote,
Pictish and Scottish warriors, about to defeat an army of Northumbrians,
saw against a blue sky a great white cross like St Andrew's
and in its image made a banner which became the flag of Scotland."

Bearing the family arms on the door lintel, the Hepburn Doo'cot is a B-listed lectern-style doo'cot, located on the north side of the Athelstaneford churchyard. It was built in 1583 by George Hepburn. In 1633, his son, Sir John Hepburn, founded the Royal Scots, known as the Royal Regiment, who use the saltire as their banner.

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