Douglas of Cavers Banners
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
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."
(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
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 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
Douglas of Cavers
Any contributions will be
Errors and Omissions
We are looking for your help to improve the accuracy of The Douglas
If you spot errors, or omissions, then please do
let us know.
If you have met a brick wall with your research, then posting a
notice in the Douglas Archives Forum may be the answer. Or, it may
help you find the answer!
You may also be able to help others answer their queries.
Douglas Archives Forum.
We try to keep everyone up to date with new entries, via our
What's New section on the
We also use
the blog to keep researchers abreast of developments in the