The Saltire and Time Portals


Scottish Flag I was reading something about the origins of the Scottish flag recently and it gave me an idea for possible wierdness that could be incorporated into a role-playing campaign.

According to Scotland Calling “Legend says that in 832 AD, an army of Scots was facing a Northumbrian army. The Scottish king prayed to St Andrew for help, and saw the saltire of St Andrew (the saint had been martyred on a diagonal cross) in the heavens against a clear blue sky. On seeing the cross in the sky, he swore that if the Scots beat the English in the battle that was about to be joined, then St Andrew would forever be the patron saint of Scotland

The Scots did in fact win the battle, and from that day on the saltire has been the national flag of Scotland.”

This makes it sound like the Scots saw a single X-shaped cloud. I suspect the reality is that there was a group of clouds in a rough X formation as described in Wikipedia.:

According to legend, in 832 A.D. Óengus II led an army of Picts and Scots into battle against the Angles, led by Æthelstan, near modern-day Athelstaneford, East Lothian. The legend states that whilst engaged in prayer on the eve of battle, Óengus vowed that if granted victory he would appoint Saint Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland; Andrew then appeared to Óengus that night in a dream and assured him of victory. On the morning of battle white clouds, forming an X shape in the sky, were said to have appeared. Óengus and his combined force, emboldened by this apparent divine intervention, took to the field and despite being inferior in terms of numbers were victorious. Having interpreted the cloud phenomenon as representing the crux decussata upon which Saint Andrew was crucified, Óengus honoured his pre-battle pledge and duly appointed Saint Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland. The white saltire set against a celestial blue background is said to have been adopted as the design of the flag of Scotland on the basis of this legend.

I personally have never seen a natural X-shaped cloud and a search on google failed to find any, which inclines me to think such things don’t happen. Occam’s Razor leads therefore to the conclusion that the Wikipedia version of the legend is correct. However, for gaming purposes I am going to ass ume that the Scots saw an actual X-shaped cloud. How could this happen?

I said above that I have never seen a natural X shaped cloud. I have, however, seen two contrails cross and produce an X in the sky. Of course, contrails were in short supply in the ninth century so the only way I can think that Óengus could have seen one would be if one had been transported to the past would be through some kind of time portal.

If such portals exist then other things could disappear into the past. Or things from our future (or indeed our past) could appear in the twenty-first century.


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