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ABC Flag Blog

All about county flags from the Association of British Counties

Welcome the the ABC Flag Blog.

As part of our efforts to strengthen the identity and recognition of the nation’s counties, the county flag is a highly effective weapon in our arsenal. A flag often seems synonymous with the entity it conveys, its very existence can reinforce the notion and status of that entity; a bright eye-catching design rippling in the breeze will attract attention of itself and invariably lead to an enquiry about what or where it represents.

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The above proposed flag has been designed by David Nash Ford of the Royal Berkshire History website http://www.berkshirehistory.com/odds/arms.html The overall design is loosely based on the Welsh national flag and the Buckinghamshire flag (and county council arms) which both have depictions of animals overlaid over a bi-colour field. The colours of blue, gold (yellow) and white are taken from the former county council arms

Berks Council Arms

and may also be seen as representing the River Thames and the country’s chalk hills. The emblem on the flag is a golden silhouette of the crest on the former council arms

Berks crest

and refers generally to the forestlands of Berkshire and specifically to the legend of a late 14th century royal huntsman named Herne The Hunter. Legend has it that after various nefarious deeds by his jealous rivals, this one time favourite of the king was dismissed from royal service and distraught, he hanged himself from an oak tree which was then struck by lightning. The white hart is “one of the manifestations of his restless spirit”. The emblem is a variation of the Berkshire badge used by the Royal Berkshire Militia and, according to Drayton’s poem of 1627, a banner with this badge, or something very like it, was carried by the men of Berkshire at the Battle of Agincourt “Barkshire a Stag, vnder an Oake that stood,”  Before its formal award of arms, the Berkshire County Council used insignia depicting the same stag and tree

Berks Seal

Variations of this are used today across the county, examples include;

Reading RFC - Berkshire WanderersReading RFC – Berkshire Wanderers;

Berks scouts   Berkshire Scouts ;

Berks and Bucks Football AssociationBerks and Bucks Football Association;

Berks cricket.Berkshire Cricket;

BERKSHIRE TABLE TENNIS ASSOCIATION Berkshire Table Tennis Association;

Berkshire Local History AssociationBerkshire Local History Association;


bfedBerkshire Federation of Women’s Institutes

The proposed design is therefore a relevant proposal for the county’s flag. It is also now widely available commercially. However, whilst it has been warmly received in some quarters, it has also met with opposition; the flag breaks the rule of tincture by placing a yellow charge partially on a white background making it less visible from any distance. Additionally, the particular form of the central emblem, as lifted from the badge used on a cap by county regiments,

Royal Berkshire

creates a curve in the composite tree and stag emblem that has led to criticisms that it resembles a letter “C”, which misleads some people who thus make no association with Berkshire. For these reasons the flag is unlikely to be registered for lack of compliance with the FI guide to good flag design.


Accordingly ABC member Michael Garber has designed this stag and tree flag for Berkshire. In discussion with Jason Saber and Philip Tibbetts, the colours and elements have been specifically designed to feature the stag and oak tree charges and three colours of David Nash Ford’s original flag. The design thus retains as much of the original symbolism as possible, which, as explained, is considered highly apt for the county but in an arrangement that is felt to be more effective.


A further proposal has been designed by Brady Ells. The design is formed on the basis of the description of the traditional stag and oak emblem which refers to the animal eating from the branches of the tree, as depicted in the old council insignia

Berks Seal

The flag features a front facing stag however, inspired by the coat of arms of Windsor


where a stag forwards facing stag represents the county of Berkshire, a device used in this fashion since 1532 where it appeared on the town’s seal.


A similar forward facing stag also appears on the arms of Wokingham Borough


and Woking Town


To illustrate the stag’s consumption of the oak, the front facing stage is seen munching on a sprig of oak held in his mouth


It may be further noted that an oak sprig has itself been used to represent the county of Berkshire, three examples of this are;

the arms of the Middleton family, granted in 2011,  charged with 3 gold oak sprigs to represent Berkshire, home of the Middletons

Middletons  ;

another example is the Badge of the House of Windsor which also features gold oak sprigs, alluding to the county where their Windsor home is located



and a third example is found in the coat of arms of the old Windsor Rural District Council…

 Windsor Rural District Council

All three previous examples being gold, so is the oak sprig in this proposal.

The field of the proposed flag, colours and form, is of course, based on the Arms of the old Berkshire County Council…

Berks Council Arms

The embattled border taken from those arms makes for a very distinctive design, quite different from other county flags.





The flag is the armorial banner of the arms attributed to the local Dark Age ruler, Edwin of Tegeingl, a former kingdom that covered much of the territory of Flintshire.


The arms bore a black engrailed cross, i.e. a cross with scalloped edges and floral ends – heraldically described as “flory”, on a white field between four choughs, a bird once likely to have been widespread in the vicinity, in black and red.

One of the earliest known appearances of the arms of Edwin Tegeingl is in a window at Llanrhos church, probably erected by, or commemorating Richard ap Hywel of Mostyn (d.1540).

One of the earliest known appearances of the arms of Edwin Tegeingl in a window at Llanrhos church, probably erected by, or commemorating Richard ap Hywel of Mostyn (d.1540).


They are also seen on this plaque dated c.1550 bearing Thomas Mostyn’s initials


and they can be found above the entrance to the great hall at Mostyn, dated 1623.

Above the entrance to the great hall at Mostyn - dated 1623

Another early version is seen here in a late-16th century Welsh pedigree roll, probably by the poet Simwnt Fychan

Early version

The arms are also found on the historic Flintshire house “Fferm”, thought to have been built in 1607


and are seen here carved into a 17th century oak draw-leaf table.

carved into an oak draw-leaf table over 400 years ago!

After World War One every Flintshire man who served and the families of those who died, received a certificate of thanks, presented on behalf of all the people of Flintshire. The Tegeingl arms featured on the certificate beneath the dragon of Wales


The Tegeingl arms have also been used by the Flintshire county scouts as their badge

Flintshire county scouts badge

as proudly sported by this troupe of St. Asaph Scouts in 1947

St. Asaph Scouts, 1947, proudly wearing their Flintshire badges.

In the 1920s, before receiving a formal award of arms, Flintshire County Council, created in 1889, adopted a rather grand depiction of the Edwin Tegeingl arms as its seal, incorporating both the name Tegeingl and the year of its inception, between two Welsh dragons

The seal of the old Flintshire County Council

On the 12th of May 1938 the council was formally granted a coat of arms which augmented the original Edwin design with silver circles on each arm and a voided diamond at the centre of the cross

Flintshire CC

The council’s augmented version of the arms appears on the front cover


of the ‘Guide to the Flintshire Record Office’, published by the county’s first archivist M. Bevan-Evans in 1955 and can be seen on this plaque celebrating the county golf union

Flintshire Golf

Is is also seen on this image from 1958


depicting representatives from the county at the Festival of Wales Pageant in Cardiff. An early example of usage as a quasi flag!

A facebook page promoting the proposed Flintshire flag can be found at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Flintshire-Flag/209333945862298

With thanks to Shaun Evans and Brady Ells for their research in this post.


East Lothian – Haddingtonshire


This proposal for an East Lothian flag was conceived by Philip Tibbetts in consultation with Jason Saber and local resident Mark Cervi. The design incorporates the maroon and golden sun flag


which Philip had earlier proposed as a flag to cover all three Lothian counties as a region, the locality being recognised as a historic province. The proposal combines this with a saltire, as found in the Scottish national flag


– a pattern seen as a particularly apt basis for the proposed flag because legend holds that the Scottish saltire originated at the Battle of Athelstaneford, in the county.


The Saltire.

The saltire is ermine, as found in the arms first awarded to East Lothian County Council in 1927                         ELCC Arms

which included a red and ermine field, as found in the arms used by the Giffords of Yester


, a family granted lands in East Lothian by King William the Lion (1165-1214).

The ermine bands of the Giffords of Yester and subsequently the county council, thus appear in the form of a saltire


to recall the local origin of the Scottish flag and provide a pattern that is distinct and unusual.

The Sun.

Appearing in the arms of the Earldom of Lothian

Earldom of Lothian

the symbol of a sun has also long been associated with the region. One theory holds that the name Lothian may derive from the name of the Celtic God of Light, “Lugus”; the choice of a sun emblem may thus reflect this supposed etymology. As such it is evidently a highly apposite emblem for inclusion on the county flag. A sun symbol has since appeared on the civic arms of various authorities administering the locality including;

Midlothian County Council

Midlothian Regional Council

and Lothian Regional Council

Lothian Regional Council

The eye catching and powerful image of a blazing sun Blazing Sun thus has an obvious local pedigree and additionally is a unique local charge – no other county flag features such a device.

The Maroon Field.

A rich maroon hue is often found in Lothian. It features as the school colours of the celebrated local educational establishment “George Watson’s college”. Indeed the college’s website http://www.gwc.org.uk/cms/our-school/  features maroon coloured headers and text in profusion. A maroon and gold colour scheme is also deployed by Lothian buses

Lothian Buses

. These colours already serve therefore as something of a local livery and this arrangement is found in no other county flag and very few flags generally. It further makes an attractive and striking combination.

The basic field of the proposed flag is therefore a deep, rich maroon


The Combination.

The ermine saltire     Saltermine.    and the blazing golden sun Blazing Sun are laid against the background maroon colour Maroon   to produce a vivid, locally meaningful and distinct combination, quite unlike any other British county flag.



East Lothian David Eyre

An alternative design comes from county resident, David Eyre, where the green represents the rich agricultural land and rolling hills of the county, and the blue, the sea and sky of its coast. The shade of blue is Pantone 300, the colour of the Scottish saltire, which ties in with East Lothian’s claim to being the birthplace of the saltire. The yellow semi-circle recalls the sun, which as described above, has a strong local heritage and significance.





The proposed flag of Montgomeryshire is not exactly a novel creation but more a novel use of a traditional emblem, being a banner of the arms of a locally celebrated seventh century hero named Brochwel Ysgithrog famed for his resistance to the invading Saxons. In the mediaeval period a coat of arms was created for him bearing three white horse heads on a black field.


These are said to represent the Saxon white horses, with their heads severed, symbolising his victory over the Saxons at Chester in 564 A.D. The arms borne by the local county council in the twentieth century

Montgomeryshire Arms

included a black and white border as a reference to Brochwel’s arms. The proposed flag is therefore a natural and obvious flag for the county to fly. Despite its anciently attributed origins however, there is no long attested record of this emblem being used to represent the county – the reference is more oblique. It would, however, be a viable contender in any county flag competition.

An alternative suggestion as a traditional design for deployment as the county flag is a banner of the arms used by the the Mathrafal dynsasty of the kingdom of Powys, later Powys Wenwynwyn or Powys Cyfeiliog

Powys arms

Powys Banner






, which features a red lion rampant against a gold field.

Before the formal award of arms to the former Montgomeryshire County Council, the body made use of the arms of the old kingdom of Powys as reported in the 1894 Book of Public Arms by Arthur Fox Davies

Public Arms 1894 image


Public Arms 1894


The emblem was later incorporated into the badge of the “Denbighshire and Montgomeryshire Joint Fire Service”

the lower half being a red lion on gold, to represent Montgomeryshire.

The “Montgomeryshire lion” also appears on the badge of the former local police division

Monty lion2

and the county Girl Guide troop uses a standard which includes what is described as “the Mongomeryshire lion”.Monty lion1

The device also featured on the cover

Monty Collection 1978

of the publication “The Montgomeryshire Collections” produced by the organisation “The Powysland Club”, based in Welshpool, in the county, the above example appearing on a 1978 edition. However, interestingly, by 1993 the emblem used by the organisation and appearing on the journal was changed, apparently now incorporating the three horses heads of the Brochwel arms


Both ancient arms thus appear to have a legitimate claim for use as the county flag of Montgomeryshire.

However, it is worth considering that this is the fifth proposed lion flag for a Welsh county and distinctiveness being one of the recognised traits of an effective flag, a surfeit of lions will nullify the effectiveness of any one flag, as people will likely be hard pressed to distinguish them. On the basis of being that bit more distinctive whilst still retaining an obvious linkage with the county, the three white horse heads would appear to be a better option as the county flag of Montgomeryshire.

With thanks to Brady Ells for his research for this post,





Before its formal award of arms Denbighshire County Council used a lion rampant as a seal

Denbighshire black lion rampant seal

as recorded in Arthur Fox-Davies’s 1894 Book of Public Arms

In 1962 the same rampant lion was included in the formal arms granted to the council  Denbighshire CC armsWhilst several sources have suggested that the lion derives from the arms of Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, who built Denbigh Castle, it should be considered that the castle was constructed as an instrument of suppression of the local population and it would therefore be rather peculiar for the council’s arms to celebrate this aspect of the locality’s history. Additionally the De Lacy arms were unequivocally acknowledged as being yellow with a rather unusual, distinctly purple lion.

De Lacy

More likely is that the lion recalls the arms, a black lion rampant on a white field,

Powys Fadog

assigned to the mediaeval Welsh kingdom of Powys Fadog which included swathes of modern day Denbighshire. The same lion appeared on the badge of the former Denbighshire Constabulary

Denbighshire Constabulary

Administrative reforem abolished the Denbighshire county council in 1974 but the sucessor Clywd administration retained the black lion in its own coat of arms

Clwyd County Council 1974-1996

Whilst this body was itself abolished in 1996 two local groups established in the time of its existence also use the black lion in their insignia; Clwyd- Denbigh Federation of Womans’ Institutes


and Girlguiding Clwyd

Girlguiding Clwyd

The design was incorporated into the badge of the “Denbighshire and Montgomeryshire Joint Fire Service”

Whilst in this illustration the upper half of the lion appears to be green, the context makes it clear that this was intended to be the black lion on white of Powys Fadog, to represent Denbighshire, whilst the lower half being a red lion on gold represents Montgomeryshire.

In 1996 a newly constituted Denbighshire County Council reeceived new arms which nonetheless retained the original black lion rampant of Powys Fadog Denbighshire County Council 1996-

Accordingly the armorial banner based on this design, which has been a persistent and widely used county emblem, has been suggested as a likely flag for the county. However there is also another design associated with this entity. It is attested that in the 13th century a younger brother of the House of Powys succeeded to the throne ahead of an older one and upon his accession amended the arms to include a field of red and white stripes

An equally viable contender for the flag of Denbighshire, similarly derived from the insignia of Powys Fadog, is thus the armorial banner of this second set of arms used there, with the black rampant lion on a red and white striped field

Denbighshire Flag

which certainly makes a more visibly effective flag than the all white version, which would inevitably be frequently indiscernible against cloudy skies.

Thanks to Brady Ells and Philip Tibbetts for their contributions to this entry.

M Fielding Design

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