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Orkney Islands (United Kingdom)

Last modified: 2002-06-21 by rob raeside
Keywords: orkney islands | scotland | united kingdom | cross: scandinavian |
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[Flag of the Orkney Islands] by Vincent Morley

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Description of the flag

The unofficial flag of the Orkneys was mentioned to me in general terms by a Scottish visitor to one of the FOTW web sites. I have found some more details about it in NAVA News, November-December 1995, in a little piece by Bill Cogswell called "Flag of the Orkney Islands". The flag - with the nickname Cross of St Magnus - has a yellow field with a red Nordic cross (proportions unknown). St Magnus was Earl of Orkney from about 1080 and was killed by his co-ruler Hakon Palsson in 1115. He was declared a saint in 1135. Inspiration for the flag came from the unofficial flag of Shetland, which is a white Nordic cross on blue, and of course other Nordic flags. The colours are those of the Scottish royal banner and the arms of Norway.

Jan Oskar Engene, 20 February 1998

Origin of the flag

The flag of the Orkneys was in fact a joint suggestion by the late Allan Macartney (1941-98), who later became the Member of the European Parliament for the Highlands and Islands, and myself. We first thought of it not long after the Shetland flag was invented, about 1970. Our basis was that red and yellow are the colours of the royal arms of both Scotland and Norway, thus reflecting the islands' dual heritage. But it was not until 1994 (I think) that Allan persuaded the Orcadians to take it up and manufacture some. I have not been to Orkney since then and I do not know what success it has had.

Kenneth Campbell Fraser, 23 November 1998

Use of the flag

Judging from the note in NAVA News, the flag has left the drawing board and sticker stage and is actually sold for local use but I am not sure how widespread the use is. The main source of the note was a discussion the note's author had with an Orkney business that sold the flag.

I can also add that a visitor to the FOTW site gave me some feedback in which he told me the Orkney flag is used on fishing boats in the islands.

Jan Oskar Engene, 20 February 1998

Banner of Arms

[Flag of the Orkney Islands] by Chris Pinette

This flag is probably unofficial.
Jon Scot, 19 March 2002

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