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A proposal for the Sutherland Flag, based on the arms borne by Hugh de Moray Earl of Sutherland

Proposed Sutherland flag competition gains support

In April 2017, just over a year after its neighbour Caithness registered its own county flag, several interested parties met to initiate a county flag competition for Sutherland. The gathering,

which took place at the former Sutherland District Council chamber, above the public library in Dornoch, comprised the county’s Lord Lieutenant Dr Monica Main, five of her deputy Lord Lieutenants; Major General Patrick Marriott; Lieutenant Colonel Colin Gilmour; Sheila Stewart; Kim Tulloch; and David Grant; plus Graeme Smart from Kinlochbervie High School, Frances Gunn, Tongue, community volunteer development officer and Garry Cameron, ward manager for East Sutherland and Edderton.

The group was given a presentation by the Flag Institute’s Community Vexillologist, Philip Tibbetts, seen at the centre of the group in the above photo, who told the meeting,

“A flag brings pride to communities and has real benefits. It has become incredibly popular in Caithness in a short space of time.”

describing how the Caithness flag was now flying at several public buildings and how it now features on items such as car stickers, lapel pins, bunting and T-shirts and appears on the kits of local sports teams.

He guided the meeting through the process of officially registering a flag with the Court of the Lord Lyon which is expected to take from six to nine months to complete.

The Lord Lieutenant is now to form a steering group comprising representatives of various local groups to oversee and progress the scheme. An open competition will be held to come up with a winning design encapsulating Sutherland’s history, culture and environment. School pupils and young people across the county are expected to play a major role.

Deputy Lord Lieutenant Patrick Marriott said the flag “would be a unifier”, while his colleague David Grant commented: “Hopefully it will engage a lot of people across Sutherland.”

One noted local emblem which may feature in competition entries is the design of the three gold stars on a red background which orginated as the arms borne by Hugh de Moray Earl of Sutherland.

Sharing a family origin with the Earls of Moray the arms resemble those used by that family, both bearing three lighter coloured stars on a darker background, in this case gold on red, in the former white on blue. The Moray arms, having been linked with the locality for many centuries, were subsequently incorporated into the arms awarded to the former Sutherland County Council

and then again into the arms borne by its successor administration, the Sutherland District Council and an armorial banner formed from the arms borne by Hugh de Moray Earl of Sutherland

has been suggested as a possible local flag, although as these arms are still privately owned they could not be deployed in this manner. Possibly, however, a flag design which incorporated the stars in like manner as the council arms, might be an option as the ancient local linkage of this pattern makes it an obvious basis for a flag for the county.


7 thoughts on “Proposed Sutherland flag competition gains support

    • No. As described, the design shown is an extant armorial banner and is not available for public use. However, taking the precedent of its inclusion in the local civic arms, perhaps the theme of gold stars on a red field (background) may be incorporated into any prospective flag for the county. It is certainly part of established county symbology.

  • Has there be any final decision regarding a Sutherland flag?
    I notice that the Caithness flag is a beauty and most certainly has a Norse look to it which is in keeping with the Norse connection.
    Surely Sutherland has also a historical Norse connection? The Sutherland flag could be of a similar design as the Caithness flag but different enough to not be judged as a copy of……..

  • I’ve had a look at the flag and l have to say that the other entries in the final can’t have been up to much. Why oh why have you gone for such a Chinese looking flag – it’s dreadful.
    Compared to the Caithness flag this yellow & red flag with a bird and 3 stars really doesn’t look good.

    • Thanks for your comment but we are but confused by the “you” in your assessment, the Association of British Counties was not involved in the competition, we’ve merely reported it. As we anticipated, the chosen flag uses the red and yellow colour scheme and stars which have been used in the locality on various arms and devices, for some 800 years; any resemblance to China, whose flag was adopted in the mid-twentieth century, is purely coincidental. According to press reports, a number of entries in the competition made use of these established “county colours”, so people were evidently aware of the relevance of this colour scheme. The Caithness flag is widely flown today both in the county and elsewhere but it was also subject to criticism and complaint upon its announcement, as most county flags have been, initially.

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