Highlands & Islands

Hundreds vote for a Sutherland flag

Flags in vote Image copyright Flag Institute
Image caption Four designs are in the poll

Hundreds of votes were registered within 24 hours of the opening of a poll to choose a flag for Sutherland.

People who live or work in Sutherland can vote for one of four designs for the new banner. The designs feature symbols and colours linked to the area.

The organisers, The Flag Institute and the Sutherland Flag Committee, have been delighted by the response.

Voting, which opened earlier this week, will be open until 26 November and can be done online.

A design was chosen by a judging panel earlier this year, but the choice was strongly criticised on social media and organisers decided to put the shortlisted designs to a public vote.

'Fly proudly'

Philip Tibbetts, honorary vexillologist to the Court of the Lord Lyon, the body which will formally recognise the winning flag, said: "It looks like the vote has got off to the fastest start of any competition and is shaping up to be a close race between all the finalists.

"I look forward to the final decision and whichever design wins will provide the county with a visually strong and symbolically rich flag, in the best traditions of Scottish community flags, that can fly proudly alongside the Saltire itself."

People can also vote by sending a letter or postcard with their choice, name and postcode to Sutherland Flag, c/o Highland Council, Drummuie, Golspie, Sutherland KW10 6TA.

The flag designs and what they symbolise:

Image copyright Flag Institute
Image caption The flag at the centre of the row will again be in contention for the winning design

In the centre of this design is an eagle in a forward swooping position. Eagles, both white-tailed sea eagles and golden eagles, are re-establishing themselves in the west and east of Sutherland, symbolising the unity of the county.

Along the red hoist are three golden stars to emphasise, along with the red and gold colours, the traditional symbols of Sutherland as drawn from the ancient Scottish Earldom.

Image copyright Flag Institute

The three golden stars of the ancient Scottish Earldom of Sutherland are placed on a thin red vertical stripe.

This stripe recalls the "thin red line"' of the famous defence of the Sutherland Highlanders at the Battle of Balaclava and the enduring brave spirit of the people of the county.

Either side of the red stripe is blue, separated by gold, which recalls the position of the county having both Atlantic and North Sea coasts.

Image copyright Flag Institute

The vertical division of the flag recalls the distinctive east and west sides to the county, according to the Flag Institute. Over the top is placed a wildcat counter-changed in the yellow and maroon colours.

The colours represent both the county's flora and "blood of its soldiers and civilians".

The wildcat is symbol that originated from the crest of the Earls of Sutherland and subsequently used by the successors of the Sutherland Highlanders, as well as the 5th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. It is also used by the Clynelish Distillery and Ross and Sutherland Rugby.

Image copyright Flag Institute

The over-layed Saltire and Nordic crosses denote Sutherland's unique history on the mainland where the extent of Viking control met Scotland.

The golden sun that is formed where the arms of the crosses meet symbolise 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 sunsets on Sutherland's west coast.

The black recalls the peat of the Flow Country and dark skies and together with the white recall the central colours of the former Sutherland Council arms.

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