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Hebrides (United Kingdom)

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Last modified: 2003-07-12 by rob raeside
Keywords: hebrides | lewis | barra | gigha | scotland | cross: scandinavian | western isles | lymphad |
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Geography of the Hebrides

The Hebrides are grouped into the Outer Hebrides or the Western Isles (na h-Eileanan An-Iar) and the Inner Hebrides (na h-Eileanan A-staigh). The following islands make up the Outer Hebrides: Lewis (Leòdhas), Harris (Na Hearadh), North Uist (Uibhist a Tuath), Benbecula (Beinn na Bhadhla), South Uist (Uibhist a Deas), and Barra (Barraigh). The following islands make up the Inner Hebrides: Skye (an t-Eilean Sgitheanach), Rhum (Rùm), Eigg (Eige), Muck (Eilean nam Muc), Canna (Canaigh), Mull (Muile), Iona (I), Coll (Colla), Tiree (Tiriodh), Islay (Ile), Jura (Diùra) and Colonsay (Colbhasa).

Chris Pinette, 23 March 1998

Western Isles (Na h-Eileanan An-Iar)

I received the following message from Scott Hatton:

There is no accepted flag for the Western Isles though the Lewis flag has been spotted on other islands. Harris, the Uists and Benbecula have no flags.

Chris Pinette, 23 March 1998

Western Isles Council flag

[Western Isles Blue Ensign] by Pascal Gross

The western isles flag flown outside the council offices in Stornoway is yellow with three black lymphads one in each top corner and one in the bottom middle divided in the centre with a blue & white striped wavy band.
Neil MacDonald, 27 September 2001

Based on a shield on a Western Isles government web page I have drawn what might be the flag (based on the description above).

Pascal Gross, 18 March 2003

Western Isles Blue Ensign

[Western Isles Blue Ensign] by Chris Pinette

This flag is illustrated in Alfred Znamierowski, The World Encyclopedia of Flags. It is my understanding that the 'national flag' shown there is based on a misunderstanding of a badge grant to the Western Isles council. The badge with the lymphad was indeed granted by the Scottish heraldic authority. However, an ensign with a badge is a different matter and requires separate authorization.

The following item appeared in Flagscan No. 30, 1993, p. 20:

Roman Klimes in no. 12 of Flaggen, Wappen und Siegel, 1992, ascribes a flag to the Western Isles - the Hebrides. It is a British blue ensign with the badge ... of a sailing ship, black on white, in the fly. It was introduced Sept. 9, 1976. Klimes gives as his source The Lyon Register, No. 51.

Information given by R.M. Urquhart in his book Scottish Civic Heraldry, London: Heraldry Today, 1979, p. 78, makes it clear that 9 September 1979 is the date of the grant of arms and a badge to the Western Isles council. Urquhart quotes as source the same volume of Lyon's Register as mentioned in Flagscan. He remarks that the grant of a badge is unusual in that 'This is the first example of the granting of a badge to a Scottish Local Authority'. He does not mention the badge being placed on an ensign.

Jan Oskar Engene, 18 and 21 December 1999

When I wrote to Jos Poels about this Blue Ensign two years ago he replied: "As far as I know there is no evidence for the fact that this flag was legally adopted. I remember that I discussed this with William Crampton. In the documentation of the Flag Institute there is no trace of the existence of such a flag."

David Prothero, 21 December 1999

Lewis (Leòdhas)

[Flag of Lewis] by Sam MacNeil

I received the following message from Scott Hatton:

There is a flag for the isle of Lewis, the largest of the Hebrides. It is based upon the Nordic cross, reflecting the Norse tradition of the islands. the origins of the colours used and the meanings of the blue lines (water?) are unclear.

Chris Pinette, 23 March 1998

I want to suggest that this flag of the Isle of Lewis (Eilean Leodhas) is a made up flag because on numerous visits to the Island I have never seen it (and Im someone who always looks out for flags). The flags commonly seen are the St Andrews Cross and the occasional flag of Nova Scotia. Perhaps someone can tell where on Lewis the flag can be seen - it's definitely not in the North of the Island towards Ness or Tolsta.

Donald Mackenzie, 2 October 2002

Barra (Barraigh)

[Flag of Barra] by Sam MacNeil

I received the following message from Scott Hatton:

The Barra flag, more obviously a Nordic cross, is in green and white probably reflecting the Catholic heritage as well.

Chris Pinette, 23 March 1998


[Flag of Gigha] by André Coutanche

Gigha (the middle 'g' is silent - "Ghee-a") is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides, lying west of the Kintyre peninsula. On 15 March 2002 it was officially handed over to its inhabitants after a successful campaign by the Gigha Heritage Trust to buy the island. To celebrate the occasion a new flag was flown. It uses the logo of the Gigha Heritage Trust which was designed by Willie McSporran as the result of a competition held in November 2001. The logo was painted by Keith Helm. For more information, see
André Coutanche, 27 March 2002