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Fisherman's Wedding Flag, Scotland

Last modified: 2017-04-16 by rob raeside
Keywords: scotland | fisherman's wedding flag | wedding | france |
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[Scottish Fisherman's Wedding Flag] image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 20 March 2017, based on image located at by James Dignan, 2 November 2005
[Note image shown at is artificially stretched horizontally. Image copyrighted by Scottish Fisheries Museum.]

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About the flag

The image is labeled "Title: Fisherman's wedding flag". Anyone know anything about this?
James Dignan, 2 November 2005


Wedding flags were used at marriages in fishing communities. The flag would be made by the bride and hoisted from the mast of the groom's fishing boat. After the wedding the youngest member of the crew brought it down. It was said that the state of the flag was an omen for the marriage itself. The flag is made of cotton and has the traditional design of three stripes in red, white and blue. The red stripe was always nearest the mast when the flag was flown.

This flag is in good condition - a good omen perhaps? The flag was last flown for the marriage of John Clark and Edith Birrell in Anstruther, Fife in March 1991. John Clark was a fisherman on the "Antares" KY23. The  original owner of the flag is unknown but they were often kept by brides as wedding souvenirs.

This flag ... is apparently a signal flag for the letter T; the joke being that the T signal flag can mean, "Keep clear of me; I am engaged in pair trawling".
David B. Lawrence, 17 August 2009

For the illustration above, I've picked the red and blue of the Union Jack. The specimen seen at Scran is slightly different, in that the blue may be even darker, but I tried to avoid confusion. It's also different in that the stripes there aren't all of equal width. The red and white are more or less the same, but the blue is more narrow. Considering there's also some overlap visible between the blue and the white, I wonder whether the fly of this flag may have been repaired by salvaging the good part of the blue and sewing that on again.

We see that the meaning of Tango: "Keep clear of me; I am engaged in pair trawling" is from 1969 RYA Flags and Signals. Does this mean that such flags are a post-1969 custom? Is there any evidence that this is still done today, or was this rather short-lived?
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 20 March 2017