Engraving of the painting The Fiery Cross by John Lamont Brodie, illustrating the old Scottish custom of summoning clansmen to war with a burning cross
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The crantara or cran-tara, also known as a crosterie, from the Scottish Gaelic cros-tàra or crann-tàra, was a fiery cross used by Scottish Highlanders to recruit other clan members to battle, later adopted by the American Ku Klux Klan as an intimidating rallying signal.[1][2]

During the period it was used in Scotland, the fiery cross was a small wooden structure carried in a relay by runners or riders from town to town. The last use of the crantara in Scotland was probably in the assembly of a force in excess of 22,000 Scots, who were defeated by the English at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547,[3][a]Also known as the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, after the area to the east of Edinburgh where it was fought.[4] the last pitched battle between Scotland and England before the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when James VI of Scotland became James I of England.

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Ku Klux Klan members at a cross burning in 2005
Source: Wikimedia Commons