The Heraldry Society
of Scotland
4 Dryden Place
Scotland, UK.




Scots Heraldry - The Heraldry Society of Scotland

    Adapted from various articles by the late Dr Patrick Barden
National Flags:

The Union flag is the correct flag flown by citizens and corporate bodies wishing to show their loyalty to the United Kingdom. This should not be flown upside down. The broader white diagonals are uppermost in the hoist. The Scottish Saltire, blue with its white diagonal cross, is the flag of St Andrew, patron saint of Scotland. It is the correct flag for Scots or Scottish corporate bodies to fly to demonstrate their loyalty and nationality. It is quite correct to fly it alone or together with the Union flag. Since the Royal Navy introduced flags of a length twice their height it has become common to use British national flags of these proportions. However it is not necessary to fly these national flags in these proportions. Regimental colours for instance, are in a length to height ratio of 5 to 4, a much more comfortable shape to carry on a banner staff and where national flags are to be flown alongside square heraldic banners, they may also be square.

The St Andrews flag, Scotland
The flag of the Heraldry Society of Scotland
The Union Jack flag of the United Kingdom
The Heraldic Banner:

This is the personal flag of an armiger which shows the arms, as depicted on the shield, and nothing else. Conventionally, the design is placed on the flag as if the flagstaff were to the left of a drawing of the shield. Thus, a rampant animal is said to 'respect' the staff, an eagle displayed looks towards the staff and so on. The design should go through the fabric so that on the reverse side all the devices will be turned about but will still respect the staff. It is quite wrong to use a banner of a plain colour with the owners arms on a shield in the middle. This implies that the arms are of that colour with a small inescutcheon in the centre. It is equally wrong to show the helmet, crest, motto and supporters on a banner.

The purpose of a banner is to locate and identify its owner and it is the visual equivalent of his name. Flown over his house, it identifies his property, elsewhere, it indicates his presence. The size of a house banner will depend on the height of the building and the pole. It should be large enough to be identified from a reasonable distance. The best shape for a heraldic house flag is square, regardless of its size. A smaller banner or Parade banner is designed to be carried in processions, either by its owner or by his appointed banner bearer. Such a banner is usually made in fine fabric and may be fringed. Its proportions should be those of an upright rectangle about five wide by six deep.

The Parade Banner
McKerrell of Hillhouse
The House Flag
of Robin Blair
The Parade Banner
 Ian Grant
The Pipe Banner

The base drone of the pipes. The same applies to an armigerous corporation. and where such a body has a pipe band, the pipe major attaches the banner to his pipes. The pipe banner may take various forms but is always shaped with an angle at the top corresponding approximately to the angle of the drone on the piper shoulder. It then hangs down behind him and may end in a swallow tail, a double rounded end or any other way suited to the arms. The arms themselves are shown in the same manner as on a personal banner but are commonly turned so that they are right way up when the pipes are being played. A certain amount of distortion is allowed to enable the artist to fit the arms into the odd shape.

Pipe banners are also much used in the Highland regiments, where each company commanders' arms are borne on the pipes of the regimental band. Each regiment has its own tradition for the display of the arms and the regimental badge and these traditions are so well established as to have become acceptable even when they do not conform to the strict rules of heraldry. A pipe banner may have a different design on either side and in this case it needs to be rendered opaque by including a layer of black fabric between the two sides. A fringe may be added to any pipe banner, either plain or of the appropriate tartan.

The Trumpet Banner

Rarely now called for, the trumpet banner consists of an approximately square banner of the arms, usually in very rich materials, fringed and tasselled according to taste and suspended from the trumpet by ribbons or straps. The arms are placed in such a way that the charges are right way up and facing away from the trumpeter when he is playing.

The Street Banner

Where the only available flagstaff is attached to the facade of a building, the usual house flag is sometimes unsuitable The design is often obscured due to its being at an angle or the flag is partly furled when there is no wind or blown over the staff when the wind eddies round the building. The street banner can be adapted to overcome these difficulties. In shape, the street banner is very like a large pipe banner. The charges upon it however should look outwards away from the buildings. The heaviest fabric which is practical should be employed and stiffeners may be sewn into the hems or fringes attached to the staff. A smaller form of the street banner may also be used for internal decoration as for example, in the great hall of a castle.


Street Banner of Alistair
Campbell of Airds, right

Street Banner of Alistair

Campbell of Airds, left

Hall Banners of
John & Eilean Malden
The Gonfannon

Also known as a gonfalon, this is the form of banner often associated with the church where it is used in processions. It's essential feature is that it hangs from a horizontal bar which may in turn be suspended from a carrying staff. Not all church gonfannons are heraldic and many have highly decorated pictorial designs. Heraldic gonfannons are particularly suited to the internal decoration of historic buildings with arms appropriate to the people and events associated with them. The gonfannon is capable of a variety of interpretations, the simpler the better. A rectangular upright banner of the arms with long tails of the livery colours is recommended.


Gonfannon of Robert Lindsay
Earl of Crawford & Balcarres

Glenfannon of Roman Catholic
 Diocese of Argyll and the Isles
The Livery Pennon

The livery pennon is a very simple flag consisting of the tinctures of the field and principal charge in the arms arranged on a long streamer parted horizontally and tapering to a point. Such a pennon has a practical value as a storm flag when, in high winds and rain, an expensive heraldic flag might quickly torn to ribbons. A number livery pennons spaced along an avenue or around a games ground is an economical means of heraldically based decoration.


Livery Pennons


Next Page - Special Heraldic Flags


The Heraldry Society of Scotland   last Update 27 Oct 2021