National Flag Heritage Centre


Athelstaneford Parish Church, Main Street, Athelstaneford, East Lothian, EH39 5BE

    NATIONAL FLAG HERITAGE CENTRE Athelstaneford - Birthplace of Scotland's Flag. The St Andrew's Cross or Saltire is Scotland's national flag.

    Tradition has it that the flag, the oldest in Europe and the Commonwealth, originated in a battle fought close by the East Lothian village of Athelstaneford in the dark ages, believed to have been 832AD.

    An army of Picts under King Angus, and aided by a contingent of Scots, was invading Lothians (at that time still Northumbrian territory), and found itself surrounded by a larger force of Saxons led by Athelstan.

    Fearing the outcome, Angus led prayers for deliverance and was rewarded by seeing a cloud formation of a white saltire (the diagonal cross on which St Andrew had been martyred) against the blue sky.

    The king vowed that if, with the saints help, he gained the victory, then Andrew would thereafter be the patron saint of Scotland. The Scots did win, and the Saltire became the flag of Scotland.

    How to Get There
    Athelstaneford lies 20 miles to the east of Edinburgh and is easily accessed and signposted from the A1 exits at Haddington and Dunbar.

    What to See
    The Flag Heritage Centre lies to the rear of Athelstaneford Church and occupies a lectern doocot built in 1583 and restored in 1996. Visitors can enjoy a short audio-visual dramatisation of the traditional origins of Scotlands flag.

    Within the churchyard is the Saltire Memorial, erected in 1965, which incorporates a granite panel showing the two armed hosts facing each other beneath the St Andrews Cross in the sky. Attached is a tall flagpole on which the Saltire is flown permanently, floodlit at night.

    When to Visit
    The Flag Heritage Centre is open daily between 9.00am and 6.00pm from April to October, and on St Andrews Day. Admission is free.


    4 Visitor Attraction
    Opening Times
    Open All Year
    2016 Opening Times
    1 Apr 2016 - 31 Oct 2016

    N.B. The Centre is open each year from 1 April until 31 October and on St Andrew's Day. The site is open all year.


    • Children Welcome


    • Public Toilet Facilities

    Public Transport Directions

    Getting there by aeroplane:- From Edinburgh Airport go east by road from airport towards Edinburgh, take A720 city bypass, continue eastwards along A1, Athelstaneford site signposted (B1347).

    Transport within Scotland

    For public transport information to visit here from within Scotland, enter your postcode and visit date below.

    Journey Planner

    What's Nearby

    Recently Viewed