One of the ordinaries in heraldry. Its name is of uncertain etymology, representing a bend sinister conjoined with a bend dexter, or a cross placed transversely like the letter X. Like the other ordinaries, it probably originated, as Planche suggests, in the clamps and braces of the shield.
The form of the saltire has been assigned to the cross on which St. Andrew is said to have been crucified; hence, the frequency of this ordinary in Scotch heraldry. A saltire is subject to the variations of being engrailed, invected, etc., and may be couped. When two or more saltires are borne in a shield, they are couped, not at right angles, but horizontally; and as they are always so treated, it is considered superfluous to blazon them as couped. Charges disposed in the form of a saltire are described as placed "saltireways," or "in saltire." The former term is more properly applied to two long charges, as swords or keys, placed across another (in which case the rule is, that the sword in bend sinister should be uppermost, unless otherwise blazoned); and the latter to five charges placed two, one, and two.
Related term(s): Ordinary; Heraldry; Bend; Sinister; Dexter; Couped
Source information: Wilhelm, Thomas. A Military Dictionary and Gazetteer. Philadelphia: L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1881. 506.