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Douglas of Cavers Banners





Banner of Douglas of Cavers   (While we are on the subject of the different kind of flags, it may be well to mention that the third important variety was) the standard—a flag of great length, its size varying with the rank of its owner, from that of the king, which was eight or nine yards long, down to a simple knight's, which was four.

The badge was generally displayed on the standard with the motto on a scroll, the extremity being swallow-tailed, except in the case of royalty, when it was pointed. The Banner-roll or Bandrol, the Penonsil or Pensil, the Ancient, the Pavon, the Guidon, and the Gonfannon were other shapes of flags into which it is unnecessary here to enter minutely. Some of them, like the pensils and bandrols, were used in funeral processions.

As might be expected from their constant exposure to the weather and the chances of battle, but few old flags have come down to us. We have, however, a few interesting examples. None of these, however, are knights' pennons ; but one banner still exists, which was exhibited at the Heraldic Exhibition in 1891.

I do not know its history, but from the style of the design it must be of considerable antiquity. It is a square of blue silk, fringed round three sides, and bearing in the dexter chief corner next the "hoist" of the flag a shield with the arms of Douglas of Cavers, argent a man's heart gules on a chief azure, three mullets of the field, all within a bordure of the second.

There is a large scroll in the shape of the letter S extending from the sinister chief to the dexter base, forked at the extremities, each fork terminating in a little ball or tassel.

The motto on the scroll is " Doe • or • Die."

Note: Doe or Die was the motto on a banner born by Col Richard Douglas's Regiment.



The Otterburn Banner


(But the flag with which the name Cavers is more generally associated is) an ancient standard supposed to have been carried by Archibald Douglas of Cavers, the son of the second Earl of Douglas, at the Battle of Otterburn. It has been described as a noble relic of medieval heraldic art, and it certainly justifies this description.

Next the hoist is a St Andrews Cross, accompanied by two small irregularly placed hearts ; then there is a splendid lion passant, vigorously handled and full of life, behind him at the top edge of the flag are two if not three mullets, and after these is a tau cross, the remainder of the standard being occupied with the Douglas motto. Jamais areyre.

The saltire, the hearts, and the mullets, and the motto are all typical of the Douglas family and their Scottish connection, but the presence of the lion passant and the tau cross are difficulties which have not yet been fully accounted for.

I cannot here enter into a discussion either on the probable history of the standard, which is disputed, or the origin or meaning of these bearings to which I have alluded. If you care to go into the matter further, you will find a careful examination of the whole subject from the pen of the late Mr J. M. Gray in the Scotsman of 25th August 1891.


Text and images from 'Heraldry in relation to Scottish history and art-1898'


Cavers bannerAt a re-enactment


See also:

  • Douglas of Cavers
  • Douglas Heraldry
  • Otterburn banner
  • Douglas models

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    Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024