Throughout history flags have been used in battle to send signals to allies or enemies. Nowadays they’re mostly used symbolically to reflect the values, history and traditions of the places they represent.
A city flag can reflect the uniqueness of that place and instill a sense of pride. Many cities in the UK already have one, but there are still many that haven’t got a flag to call their own. So we decided to give 14 of Britain’s most famous cities a flag to fly, using the 5 basic principles of flag design.
1. Dundee, Scotland
Dundee’s Coat of Arms features a pot of white lilies on a blue background, which represents the city’s first patron saint – Saint Mary. The two green dragon supporters represent Dundee’s other patron saint – Saint Clement.
2. Nottingham, England
Nottingham’s coat of arms depict a rough, wooden cross in green rising out of the base of a red shield, between two open crowns of gold. We also see a walled castle with three towers standing upon a wreath of red and gold. The meaning of the arms are a mystery.
3. Swansea, Wales
Sitting atop the arms is an osprey. We also see blue and white waves, symbolising that Swansea is a significant seaport. The castle represents the city’s medieval formidable fortifications.
4. Bangor, Wales
The Bangor Coat of arms features a cross and a crown sitting on a shield, which is separated by a diagonal stripe and mace. There is a single star in the upper and lower sections of the shield. The meanings of these elements are shrouded in mystery.
5. Newcastle upon Tyne, England
The three castles represents the town taking its name from the “New Castle”, built by order of Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conqueror in 1080. The mythical sea-horses, shaded in green with gold manes, fins and tails – are a reminder that Newcastle is a seaport.
6. Stirling, Scotland
The castle is surrounded by four oak trees which represent the Royal Castle and the Forest of Stirling. The wolf on the crag recalls the legend of a Danish invasion that was thwarted when a barking wolf warned the garrison of the enemy’s approach.
7. Leeds, England
The owl supporters were taken from Sir John Savile’s coat of arms. Savile’ was the first Alderman of Leeds. The fleece represents wool, the staple trade of the town. The three star-shaped objects known as mullets were metal weapons used in medieval battles.
8. Glasgow, Scotland
Glasgow’s arms tell stories of its patron saint – Saint Mungo, also known as Saint Kentigern. The oak tree has Kentigern’s bell hanging from it which refers to a fire he started using one of its branches. The salmon is said to have been caught in the River Clyde by one of Kentigern’s monks.
9. Brighton & Hove, England
The two dolphins on the shield are thought to be a reference to the fact that Brighton is a seaside city. The blue border with six martlets is derived from the arms of the County Sussex in which Brighton is located.
10. Salford, England
Salford’s arms combine elements of the five local authorities that formed the new city of Salford in 1974. The five bees represent the five industrial communities that grew up around the textile industry. The two black millrinds (the iron centres of millstones) are symbols of the city’s engineering history.
11. Sheffield, England
The lion on the crest is taken from the arms of the Dukes of Norfolk – lords of the manor of Sheffield.
The 2 supporters, Vulcan and Thor, were chosen to represent Sheffield as a place whose prosperity is founded almost entirely on its metal industries.
12. Cambridge, England
On the shield there is a bridge over a river with three sailing boats, which represents the origin of the name Cambridge – named after the bridge at the farthest navigable part of the Cam river. Above the bridge are two roses and a fleur-de-lis representing Cambridge’s royal connections.
13. Lancaster, England
Leicester’s coat of arms were inspired by the arms and badge of Edmund, first Earl of Lancaster (son of Henry III), who bore the royal lions of England. The five red roses in the crest represent the five Lancashire councils. The silver wave represents the River Lune.
14. Chelmsford, England
The shield is silver with three blue waves, referring to the Rivers Chelmer and Cam. The two stars represent the family of De Vere, said to be the most important family Essex has ever produced. The blue lions recall the arms of Mildmay, also a very important local family.
It’s been said that a flag can be shorthand for history. Whether it stems from patron saints, local industry or folklore – each city has its own unique story to tell.
We studied the coat of arms for each city, as a coat of arms is packed with information about a city’s history, industry and folklore.
We then used the “Five Basic Principles of Flag Design” to design our flags. The list, generated by the North American Vexillological Association using expertise from over 20 renowned vexillologists, has become a valuable resource for anybody wishing to design or redesign a flag.
Here are their recommendations:
- Keep it Simple
- Use Meaningful Symbolism
- Use Two to Three Basic Colours
- No Lettering or Seals
- Be Distinctive or Be Related
Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2011). Flag. britannica.com
Hambly, B. (2015). The 5 Basic Principles of Flag Design. hamblywoolley.com
English Heritage. (2018). Our Guide to Heraldry. english-heritage.org.uk
Kaye, T. (2006). Good Flag Bad Flag. ausflag.com.au
Heraldry of the World. (2018). Dundee. ngw.nl
Heraldry of the World. (2018). Bangor. ngw.nl
Heraldry of the World. (2018). Brighton and Hove. ngw.nl
Heraldry of the World. (2018). Cambridge. ngw.nl
Heraldry of the World. (2018). Chelmsford. ngw.nl
Heraldry of the World. (2018). Glasgow. ngw.nl
Heraldry of the World. (2018). Lancaster. ngw.nl
Heraldry of the World. (2018). Leeds. ngw.nl
Newcastle City Council. (2017). The Coat of Arms of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne. newcastle.gov.uk
Heraldry of the World. (2018). Nottingham. ngw.nl
Heraldry of the World. (2018). Salford. ngw.nl
Heraldry of the World. (2018). Sheffield. ngw.nl
Heraldry of the World. (2018). Stirling. ngw.nl
Heraldry of the World. (2018). Swansea. ngw.nl
The information in this article is provided for education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. The information in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial or any other advice. The information in this article is general in nature and is not specific to you the user or anyone else.