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Battle site of Athelstaneford (832) *

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Athelstaneford Parish Kirk cc-by-sa/2.0 - © kim traynor - geograph.org.uk/p/2009828


Close to the church in Athelstaneford you will find the Flag Heritage Centre in a lectern doo cot, where the story is told of the battle and the origins of the Scottish flag, the 'Saltire'.

The audio visual is quite impressive and there is a viewing point with an interpretative panel .

The legend goes that in 832 Óengus mac Fergusa, King of the Picts was pursued by a Northumbrian host led by their leader Athelstane. The Scots were forced to make a stand in an area some 2.5 km to the north of the modern village of Athelstaneford and there ensued a long and bloody battle across the narrows of the Peffer Burn. In desperation Óengus called for divine intervention and Saint Andrew seems to have answered by shaping the clouds into a cross.

As expected the Northumbrians were beaten and the white cross on a blue background has been the Scottish flag ever since. The site of the battle is the present day farm of Prora (a field there is still called the Bloody Lands).

In the church itself you'll find a permanent Nigel Tranter exhibition. Nigel Tranter was a very prolific author of architectural and history books about castles, and also of deeply researched historical novels that cover centuries of Scottish history.

The Saltire

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