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Dictionary of Vexillology: B (Banner Roll - Bar Sinister)

Last modified: 2024-05-18 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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An 18th Century corruption, now obsolete, of the equally obsolete term bannerole (see 'bannerole').

Please note, it is suggested by one source that this term could also apply to a roll or scroll depicting banners.

See ‘finial’ (also supplementary note)

Please note that the Editors consider this term to be both contradictory and confusing, and suggest therefore, considerable caution before use.

1) A term sometimes used to describe a miniature banner; this is often (but by no means invariably) straight-sided and triangular ended or swallow-tailed, is designed to be displayed vertically and usually shows emblems of either national and local significance (see also ‘bannerette’, ‘emblem, general’, ‘table flag’ and ‘triangular ended’).
2) A medieval term, now obsolete, for a knight entitled to lead men into battle – a knight banneret – whose armigerous lance pennon was square-ended, or for the group of knights so lead – a banneretus (see also ‘armigerous’, ‘banderium’, ‘lance pennon 1)’ and ‘pennoncier’).

[banneret] [banneret]
Table Flag/Banneret of Čađavica, Croatia (fotw); Lance Pennon of Sir Robert Knolles. Knight Banneret c1360, England

1) A small ceremonial banner decorating a set of bagpipes, a drum or a trumpet – a drum banner, pipe banner or a trumpet banner or tabard (see also ‘war banner’).
2) See ‘banner 3’.

7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles, UK (fotw)

A medieval term, now obsolete, for a banneret (see ‘banneret 2)’).

See ‘bannerhead’.

Banner of Bad Westernkotten, Germany
Banner of Bad Westernkotten, Germany (fotw)

The term - and a direct translation of the German "bannerhaupt" - sometimes used in German language vexillology - to describe the plain area of field that may appear at the head of a hanging flag or a banner and almost invariably bearing a civic or regional coat of arms (see also ‘banner 2)’, ‘hanging flag’ and ‘hoisted flag’).

Main, Germany  Bad Westernkotten, Germany  Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany
Hanging Flag of Frankfurt am Main, Germany (fotw); Banner of Ludwigshafen, Germany (fotw); Hanging Flag of Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany (fotw)

1) In largely Scottish usage a term, now obsolete, for one who bears a standard.
2) An originally 17th century term, now obsolete, for a Chinese soldier belonging to one of the eight “banners” (or divisions) of the Manchu army (see also ‘banner 7)’).

The term, now obsolete, for a small flag (usually three feet - 91 cm - square) that displayed a single quartering from a deceased person’s coat of arms for use at that person’s funeral – a banner roll (see also ‘achievement of arms 2)‘, ‘badge banner’, ‘banner of arms’, ‘canton 3)’, ‘coat of arms’, ‘great banner’, ‘grumphion’ and ‘quartering’).

Main, Germany
Bannerole (or single quartering) from the Arms of the 4th Duke of Buccleuch d1687

Please note - not be confused with banderole (see ‘banderole’).

1) The heraldic term for a horizontal stripe that is rarely borne singly, and which in strict heraldic practice should occupy about one-fifth the width of a shield, a banner of arms or any quartering thereof – but see note b) below and compare with ‘fess’ (also ‘barrulet’, ‘barry’, ‘filet’ and ‘quartering 1)’).
2) In vexillology see ‘stripe(s)’.
3) In UK military usage and in some others, the metal clasp which is added to a medal ribbon to indicate a second award of that same medal, or the battle, campaign or reason for its award.

bar bar bar
Examples; Flag of Chicago, US (fotw)

a) In vexillology a fess and a bar are regarded as almost synonymous.
b) With regard to 1), in strict heraldic usage there is a size difference between a bar and a fess (as listed herein), and that a fess should be confined to the centreline of the field whereas a bar or bars need not.

1) The heraldic term used when describing the leaves of a rose - but see ‘seeded’ and its following note (also ‘garnished’)
2) A heraldic term also used to describe the metal point of an arrow or of a spear, particularly when these are of a different tincture - but see ‘shafted’ (also ‘hafted’, ‘hilted’, ‘rogacina’ and ‘tincture’).

barbed barbed barbed
Flag of Yorkshire, UK (fotw); Flag of Dalecarlia, Sweden (Wikipedia); Flag of Haguenau, France (fotw)

Please note that this term is sometimes also applied to the thorns found on the stem of a rose.

An accurate but seldom used translation (balken meaning a “balk, “bar” or “beam” of wood) of the German term balkenkreuz - see ‘balkenkreuz’.


1) In UK usage, one of a number of varying flags (usually a banner of arms) which are flown from the ceremonial barges of London’s livery companies (see also ‘banner of arms’)
2) See ‘boat flag 3)’ and the note below.

Barge flag
Barge Flag/Banner of Arms of The Worshipful Company of Fletchers, London UK

Please note that in British RN and some other usage, the small boat carrying a vessel’s commander, or a flag officer, is called the captain’s, commodore’s or admiral’s “barge”, but that any rank flag or ensign flown from it is invariably called a “boat” flag as referenced above.

See ‘sailor's mast’.

See ‘cartouche’.

cartouche cartouche
Flag and Arms of Labin, Croatia (fotw)

A term sometimes used to describe an elaborately designed shield of the post-medieval type – but see ‘renaissance shield’ (also ‘shield’).

renaissance shield renaissance shield renaissance shield
Arms of Kemmern, Germany (Wikipedia); Flag of León, Spain (fotw); Arms of Kraftisried, Germany (Wikipedia)

Please note that several of the terms describing a specific type of shield are still in the process of standardization, and that no consistent approach has thus far been identified.

Alternative heraldic terms for a narrow horizontal stripe that is rarely borne singly, which is often to be seen as a barrulet wavy and which in strict heraldic practice should occupy one-quarter the width of a bar or about one-twentieth the width of a shield, a banner of arms or any quartering thereof – a barrelet, barrully or bracelet (see also ‘bar’, ‘barry’, ‘filet’ and ‘wavy’).

barrulet barrulet barrulet
Flag of Terradillos de Sedano, Spain (fotw); Example; Flag of Winsen upon Aller, Germany (fotw)

In heraldry see ‘barrulet’.

Flag of Kreis Rheinwald, Switzerland (fotw)

The heraldic term for the division of a shield, a banner of arms or any quartering thereof, into four or more usually (but not invariably) equal horizontal stripes in alternating tinctures – but see ‘barry wavy’ and ‘multi-stripe’ (also ‘banner of arms’, ‘bar’, ‘barrulet’, ‘bar’, ‘quartering 1)’ and ‘tincture’).

barry barry barry
Civil Ensign of Luxembourg (fotw); Example; Flag of Il-Marsa, Malta (fotw)

The heraldic term used to describe a series of wavy stripes, often (but not invariably) in azure and argent to represent running water – but see ‘barry’ and ‘wavy’.

barry wavy barry wavy barry wavy
Flag of Zeeland, The Netherlands (fotw); Flag of Unterägeri, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of St Paul’s Bay, Malta (fotw)

This term, supposedly indicating illegitimacy, is a nineteenth century invention – for the correct heraldic phrase see ‘baton sinister’.

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