Creating a Berwickshire flag is easier said than done, and after three years of discussions at meetings of Scottish Borders Council’s old Berwickshire area committee, that job has been passed on to the lord-lieutenant Jeanna Swan’s office.
Villagers at Foulden, Mordington and Lamberton first asked the question about the possibility of flying a Union Flag, Saltire and a new Berwickshire flag at the England-Scotland border on the A1 at Lamberton in 2014.
Their argument was that on the south side of the border crossing, the Union Flag, St George’s Cross and Northumberland flags were being flown, so the Borders also ought to have three flags.
The matter was taken up with Transport Scotland regarding flying flags at the border and also the Lord Lyon’s Court to find out about using either the council coat of arms or the Berwickshire coat of arms, but all sorts of protocols are involved and little progress was made.
Berwickshire deputy lieutenant Susan Swan has taken up the case, assisted by Gavinton flag expert John Marjoribanks and Philip Tibbetts, community vexillologist at the Flag Institute.
Reporting to last week’s Berwickshire locality committee, Mrs Swan said that what is being suggested now is that incorporating any coat of arms is abandoned and a new Berwickshire flag is created with the help of experts.
“I realise that it’s quite a politically contentious issue, and we are keen to emphasise that we don’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” said Mrs Swan.
It was agreed that Mrs Swan should meet with Mr Marjoribanks and Mr Tibbetts and bring back ideas to a future meeting in Duns.
Explaining some of the difficulties, Mr Marjoribanks said: “The coat of arms of the former Berwickshire County Council could not be used as the basis of a flag because, when the county ceased to exist, the arms reverted to the crown.
“The coat of arms of Scottish Borders Council could have been used as the basis of a flag at the border crossing but, as the arms are the legal property of the council, it could only be used with its express permission.”
“In the last few years, a new form of community flag has started to emerge, thanks largely to the impetus of the Flag Institute.
“The basic idea is to develop a simple, instantly-recognisable flag that people can identify with and which fosters community spirit.”
“In Scotland, the Lord Lyon, the legal authority for the registration of coats of arms, has taken the step of providing official recognition to community flags by approving their design and entering them in his registers for use by communities.”