Tiny Outer Hebridean islands set to raise the flag to boost identities
They are tiny islands with big identities.
N o w c o m m u n i t i e s o n E r i s k a y, B e n b e c u l a a n d North Uist are coming together to design new flags that will reflect the culture, history and values of the islands they call home.
The Court of the Lord Lyon – the legal protector of Scotl and’s heraldr y, f l ags and national symbols – will oversee the competition that will select how each island is represented.
All islanders are invited to contribute, with those who have moved to the mainland or overseas particularly encouraged to take part with design ideas going to a shortlist and public vote over the summer.
Three votes will take place – one for each island – by online and postal voting.
Alasdair Allan MSP, SNP member for Na h- Eileanan an Iar, said: “As well as being an obvious expression of the identity of a community and providing a collective symbol to rally around, community flags could help to boost the profile of each island and boost marketing efforts.
“People often think of the Western Isles and one community, but the Western Isles is at least half a dozen completely distinct communities, all which are a very long way from each other.
“All these communities have a very strong sense of identity and they all have a very strong history.”
Mr Allan said he expected symbols of the islands’ mythology and heritage to appear in the shortlisted designs.
South Uist had its official flag confirmed in 2017 and confirmation followed soon afterwards for Barra. In the time since, the t wo islands have used their respective nordic crosses as effective icons for their communities, which are now central to efforts to market Barra and South Uist.
Once voting has completed, the Court of the Lord Lyon will assess the proposed flags to check t hey do not clash with any official Scottish flags already in existence.
Philip Tibbetts, honorary vexillologist with the Court of the Lord Lyon, has toured s c ho ol s on t he i s l a nds t o encourage ideas and entries.
He said: “I have been greatly impressed by the positive reception to the concept of the flags as well as the ideas the pupils have come up with so far – the distinct histor y, geography and culture of each island is serving as a very rich palette for some very creative minds.
“I was also very impressed on my visit to see the innovative ways that the neighbouring flags of Barra and South Uist are already being used to promote their communities.”
0 The island community on Benbecula is to design and vote on a new flag