Athelstaneford is a village three miles north-east of Haddington in East Lothian.
Athelstaneford gets its name from the legendary battle between Saxon King Athelstane and Pictish King Hungus in the 9th century. It began as a model village in the late 18th century, thriving on agriculture and weaving.
Just behind the parish church is a beautifully restored, dovecot that houses a short audio-visual dramatisation of the 9th century battle. The dovecot is well worth a visit and the audio visual is very atmospheric. Adjacent to the dovecot is a viewing point with an interpretative panel and there are spectacular views northwards towards the battle site.
Between 815 AD and 832 AD, legend describes how an army of Picts, under Angus mac Fergus (High King of Alba), had been on a punitive raid into Lothian (which was Northumbrian territory), and were being pursued by a larger force of Angles and Saxons under Athelstane.
The Scots were caught and stood to face Athelstane in an area to the north of the modern village of Athelstaneford. The two armies came together at a ford near the present day farm of Prora (one of the field names there is still called the Bloody Lands).
King Angus prayed 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 a blue sky. The king vowed that if, with the saint's 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.
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