Why are three saltires needed at the border?

Saltire on display at the Lamberton border crossing
Saltire on display at the Lamberton border crossing

A request is to be made for the three Saltire flags flying at the border crossing on the A1 at Lamberton to be replaced by one saltire, a Union flag and a Berwickshire flag.

Foulden, Mordington and Lamberton Community Council put in a request to this month’s Berwickshire Area Forum asking for clarification as to who was responsible for deciding to fly three Saltires at the border.

On the English side of the A1 there is a Union Jack, a Northumbrian flag and the St George’s Cross.

Area Forum chairman, Councillor Michael Cook explained that although Scottish Borders Council had been responsible for putting up the original three flagposts, it was now the Scottish Transport Minister who decides what flags are flown on the border crossing. The change came about when the Scottish Executive did work on the entry points to Scotland - at Lamberton that work included placing a stone at the lay-by, where tourists now stop to get their pictures taken standing next to it, and the large welcome to Scotland sign (in English and Gaelic).

No explanation was forthcoming as to why it is necessary to fly three Saltires - and Ayton Community Council representative John Slater said: “It seems a waste of resources for three flags flying, all the same.”

Spurred on by their neighbours’ instantly identifiable red and yellow Northumberland flag, Berwickshire councillors and community council representatives have agreed that chairman Michael Cook should write to the Scottish Government requesting that Saltire, Union and Berwickshire flags be flown at Lamberton.

The Northumberland flag is believed to date back to the 7th century king of Northumberland, the colours of gold and red adopted by the first Earl of Northumberland in medieval times.

However, Berwickshire doesn’t as yet have a flag so now they are going to have to come up with what to put on a possible local flag - with the Berwickshire Coat of Arms - the chained bear and the tree symbol - being the most popular choice at the Area Forum.

The Coat of Arms was applied for by the County Council of Berwickshire in 1890. It shows a bear chained to a wych elm tree, a pun on the county’s name - a bear and a wych (elm), combined to produce Berwick.

When Berwickshire County Council disappeared during local government reorganisation in the mid 1970s, the Coat of Arms was regranted to Berwickshire District Council and on their demise it has now reverted to the Crown.

A request will need to be made to the Lord Lyon King of Arms for permission to use the Berwickshire coat of arms on a flag.