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Scottish clan banners

Last modified: 2013-04-05 by peter hans van den muijzenberg
Keywords: scotland | clans |
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Examples of Clan Banners

Clan banners are the arms in flag form and are becoming very popular. Clan chiefs usually have their standard. It is difficult to find many clan banners on the web but here are some photos of them.

N.M., 21 October 2002

These are, of course, more correctly the chiefs' banners, since they are banners of the chiefs' personal arms. Under Scottish armorial law, clans and families don't have arms, individual members do. As N.M. says, the chiefs also have their standards (long tapering flags with their arms, badges, mottoes, etc., on them).

People do use these widely as if they were the flags of the clans themselves, the same way they use the royal lion banner as if it were an alternative flag of Scotland. You see the flags here in the United States at Highland games, Scottish heritage parades, and such. But technically they aren't.

Joe McMillan, 22 October 2002

MacGregor Clan Banner

[MacGregor clan banner] 

Morrison Clan Banner

[Morrison clan banner] 

Munro Clan Banner

[Munro clan banner]

Scottish Clan Standards

I came across this flag seller selling Scottish Standards: As I understand from the Scottish clans page, these are the standards that the clans gather under.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 30 May 2010

These are indeed called "standards" and are modeled on English personal heraldic standards of the late Middle Ages. British Royal Artillery regiments also use these shape and style of standards, but I think that usage was introduced after the Second World War.

That said, I have never seen such Scottish standards in use. I live in central Colorado where there are at least three annual Celtic festivals cum Highland games and clan gatherings. I usually attend at least one per year, and the parades of clans have never featured such standards. The vast majority of clan flags consist of unadorned tartan cloth on a pole. Some add the clan badge. A small number are true flags (not medieval standards) unrelated to the tartan.

At least one of the festivals I attend also includes a church service called the "kirking of the tartan" in which the tartans on a pole are blessed by the presiding pastor. It may be for this reason that most of the flags are actually tartan. According to popular mythology, kirking (churching) of the tartan started as a secret ceremony in Scottish churches after the 1746 Proscription of Highland dress wherein small pieces of banned tartan were brought to church to be consecrated. There is apparently no basis for this myth. The practice was, in fact, invented in the US by Rev. Peter Marshall on 27 April 1941 at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. Marshall was a Scottish immigrant who arrived in the U.S. in 1927 at age 24 and served as Chaplain of the U.S. Senate from 1947 until his death in 1949. The practice has since spread to other expatriate Scottish communities around the world such as Australia.

T.F. Mills, 30 May 2010