Also known locally as “The Mearns”, a proposed flag for the county, derives from the arms of the former county council
granted in 1927, which depict the Scottish crown jewels or “Regalia”; the royal crown, the sword of state and the sceptre. The arms are evidently based on those of the local Clan Keith
, hereditary holders of the post of Earl Marischal, charged with care of the Regalia but with the addition of a depiction of Dunottar Castle in the county, to recall a significant chapter in Scottish history when William Keith, the 6th Earl Marischal, took the Regalia to the castle for safekeeping against the army of Oliver Cromwell, the building being subsequently besieged. The castle’s governor, George Ogilvy of Barras and the minister of nearby Kinneff parish, James Granger, smuggled the items out of the castle and buried them under the floor of the parish church until restoration of the monarchy in 1660.
The proposed design from Brady Ells, retains the saltirewise depiction of the sword and sceptre from the civic arms, placed between two alternate coloured bands of red and yellow at top and green and yellow below. These are taken from the lesser arms of the Keith family
and the arms of the former Kincardine and Deeside Council
where green and yellow bands at the base are said to represent the countryside of the locality! Additionally the red and yellow bands of the Keith arms are also found on the civic arms of Stonehaven, the modern county town
Kincardineshire is named for its former county town, Kincardine, in the Howe of the Mearns, which was a burgh with a castle but following its destruction the town decayed and vanished. Another proposal for the county’s flag, from Philip Tibbetts, includes a tower to symbolise the ruin of Kincardine Castle,
the last trace of the original town and county seat. The red and yellow colours and the sword are from the former civic arms of the county, the latter recalling the role played by Kincardineshire in saving the nation’s crown jewels.
The origin of the county’s alternative name, “The Mearns”, is uncertain. It may be from the Gaelic words A’ Mhaoirne, meaning “The Stewartry”, itself deriving from “household guardian” i.e. “steward”. The protective imagery of the sword and castle together, thus also serve to represent the origin of the name Mearns. An alternative story is that it comes from “Mernia”, a Scottish lord to whom the land was granted, and whose brother, Angus, had obtained the adjoining shire of Forfar.