East Lothian opens design competition to find new flag

The saltire is said to have adopted as the national symbol of Scotland following a battle near the present day village of Athelstaneford in East Lothian. Picture: Jon Savage/TSPL
The saltire is said to have adopted as the national symbol of Scotland following a battle near the present day village of Athelstaneford in East Lothian. Picture: Jon Savage/TSPL
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Legend dictates it was in East Lothian the saltire was first adopted as Scotland’s national symbol.

But despite such historic links with heraldry, the county has no official flag of its own. Now an open design competition has been launched to put that right, more than 20 years after the council area was created.

Organised by East Lothian Council and the Scottish Flag Trust, the competition is open to all and is free to enter.

The county would follow a growing trend of civic flags winning official approval following the examples of Barra, Kirkcudbrightshire and Caithness.

READ MORE: Barra flag wins official recognition after long campaign

East Lothian provost John McMillan said having a distinctive new civic flag would allow “individuals and groups across the county to express pride in their local community, to celebrate their heritage and help raise recognition and awareness of East Lothian nationwide”.

He added: “I think this competition will capture the imagination of many people and will attract a great deal of interest from across the county as well as further afield. I’m particularly keen for our schools to get involved too and I very much look forward to seeing all the entries as I’m sure they’ll be varied and inspiring.”

David Williamson, chairman of the Scottish Flag Trust, said: “What makes this initiative particularly special is the collaborative working between East Lothian Council and the Scottish Flag Trust along with the support and guidance of the Lord Lyon.

“We are hopeful that this competition, followed by a public vote, will deliver a new flag that will reflect the county and be welcomed by everyone.”

It was near the present day village of Athelstaneford in East Lothian that Óengus II led an army of Picts and Scots into battle against the Angles, led by Æthelstan, in AD 832.

Óengus is said to have vowed that if granted victory he would declare Andrew as patron saint of Scotland. On the morning of battle, white clouds forming the shape of an X were said to have appeared in the sky.

The story was widely shared medieval Scots chroniclers such as John of Fordun and Andrew of Wyntoun.

Guidelines and entry forms for the competition are available online at www.eastlothian.gov.uk/designaflag with hard copies also available at council offices and libraries.