The Sutherland flag won a vote held in late 2018 to select a flag for the county. The design is a combined saltire and Nordic cross symbolising Sutherland’s early history as a Scottish territory under Viking control. At the point where the arms of the two crosses meet, is a golden sun recalling “the sun raised high in the south for the origin of the county name “South Land” as well as the sunrises seen on the East Coast and the sunsets on the county’s West Coast. The black colour of the cross recalls the peat of the “Flow Country” and dark skies and together with the white recall the central colours of the former Sutherland coat of arms,
which depicted a black raven or eagle against a white field. The flag replaced the formerly selected design featuring a front facing bi-coloured eagle against a counterchanged red and yellow background
the winning design in the Sutherland flag competition which was announced in local press on January 28th 2018. This had proven locally unpopular both for its specific design and because of the manner in which it was selected without public consultation.
Along the hoist three gold stars derived from the arms of the earldom of Sutherland
and are also seen as reflective of the locality’s intense sunrises and sunsets
The Sutherland competition took place across September and October 2017, with judging taking place on Monday October 30th
at Drummuie in the county. Entries were received from as far afield as New Zealand Japan and Sweden with many featuring the county’s wildlife. The next step will be to “finesse” the art work, the winning design will then be manufactured with a formal unveiling and presentation ceremony held in the new year.
Pictured are, back row from left: Councillor Jim McGillivray, vice Lord Lieutenant Colin Gilmour, Lord Lieutenant Dr Monica Main, vexillologist Philip Tibbetts, Kieran Day, Kinlochbervie High School, Deputy Lieutenant Frances Gunn.
Front row, from left: Syke Macdonald, Golspie High School, Lord Lyon Dr Joseph Morrow, Carmen Heddie and Erin Mackintosh, both Farr High School, Deputy lieutenants Patrick Marriott and Graeme Smart, head teacher at Kinlochbervie High Scghool
Upon its announcement Colin Gilmour commented,
“I think it is eye-catching, which is what you want. A lot of these flags you would not know one from the other. This will stand out at a distance.”
A spokesman for the panel said that an eagle had featured on a considerable number of the entries and noted that,
“The eagle was chosen as a unifying feature of the flag – the west (of Sutherland) now has a fair population of white-tailed sea eagles and the east
has golden eagles in good numbers.”
A distribution reflected in the bicoloured form of the eagle.
“It was felt that the bird’s swooping pose, albeit perhaps unique on a flag, was considered bold and easy to identify from a distance” The original design was an amalgamation of several submissions, combining three gold stars on red from one submission, with a red and yellow counter-changed pattern from a second and a front facing swooping eagle from a third.
The third flag featured a golden eagle, face on, set against a purple background reflecting the Purple Saxifrage, wild orchids, Purple Milk-Vetch and of course wild heather (caluna vulgaris) that can be found across the county. The pentagon shape is a stylised reference to the roughly five sided shape of the county,
whilst the blue and white surround recalls both snowy peaks against a cold sky
and the foamy seas of the coastline.