Scotland’s national flag is thought to be the oldest in the world. Know as the Saltire or St Andrews Cross it consists of a white diagonal saltire set against a blue background. The shape of the Saltire takes its shape from the cross on which St Andrew Scotland’s patron saint was crucified. Its use came into being as a result of an important Scottish victory. Under the High King of Alba an Army made up of Picts and Scots attempted to take land in what is now East Lothian from the Angles Saxons – land which was still part of Northumberland at that time. This was no easy feat, as the opponent Angles Saxons forces were much greater in number. It is said that on the eve of battle St Andrew appeared in a dream to the High King and assured him of victory and that in the morning of the battled white clouds formed a white cross in the sky. And so inspired he was able to lead his men to victory and the Saltire was adopted as a powerful symbol of the emerging nation of Scotland. In regular use from the 14th century, it wasn’t until the 16th century that the Saltire was placed against a coloured background. At the union of Scottish and English parliaments in 1707 the Scottish Saltire was incorporated into the design of the Union flag. Despite this its use dwindled until the near the end of the 20th century. Today the Saltire is Scotland’s official national flag. In 2003 Scottish politicians, following consultation with the office of the Lord Lyon King of Arms among others, made recommendations that the same shade of blue (pantone 300) be used for all Saltire flags. However as it is a voluntary rather than a statutory code there are no consequences for using a different shade of blue, although most do stick to the recommended celestial blue. The Scottish Government ruled that the Saltire should fly from all its buildings from 8am until sunset, apart from on UK national days when the union flag should be flown. On St Andrews Day it is common for embassies across the UK to fly the Saltire. And Northern Ireland the Saltire is used to celebrate Ulster-Scotch heritage. The Saltire is displayed by the Scottish Division of the British Army as well as the Scots Guards regiments, on combat and transport vehicles. In the battle for "hearts and minds" in Iraq, the Saltire was used by the British Army as a means of distinguishing troops belonging to Scottish regiments from other coalition forces, in the hope of fostering better relations with the civilian population. As well as being one of the key components of the Union Flag a similar design is used in other countries. In Canada, for example, an inverse representation of the Saltire blue on a white background, with the shield from the Royal Arms of the Kingdom of Scotland. Together form the flag of the Nova Scotia (New Scotland) in Canada. Nova Scotia was the first colonial venture of Scotland into the Americas. The Saltire is proudly displayed at sporting events and often features on traditional highland wear items, including sporrans, plaid brooches, socks, cufflinks and buckles.