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Dictionary of Vexillology: B (Banner Roll - Bayeux Tapestry)

Last modified: 2013-05-20 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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An 18th Century corruption, now obsolete, of the also obsolete term bannerole (see 'bannerole').

Please note, it is suggested 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 not invariably) straight-sided and swallow-tailed, is designed to be displayed vertically and usually shows emblems of both national and local significance (see also ‘bannerette’, ‘emblem, general’ and ‘swallow-tail(ed)’).
2) A medieval term, now obsolete, for a knight entitled to lead men into battle – a knight banneret – whose armigerous and whose lance pennon was square-ended, or for the group of knights so lead – a banneretus (see also ‘armigerous’, ‘banderium’, ‘lance pennon 1)’ and ‘pennoncier’).

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 (Klaus-Michael Schneider)

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

See ‘bannerhead’.

Ludwigshafen, Germany
Banner of Ludwigshafen, Germany (fotw)

The term - and a direct translation of the German term "bannerhaupt" used in German language vexillology - to describe the usually (but not invariably) white area of field that may appear at the head of a hanging flag or a banner and usually bearing a civic or regional coat of arms (see also ‘banner 2)’, ‘hanging flag’ and ‘hoisted flag’).

Bad Westernkotten, Germany Main, Germany
Banner of Bad Westernkotten, Germany (fotw); Hanging Flag of Frankfurt am Main, 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 ‘Appendix VI’ 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 the two (as listed herein), and that a fess should be confined to the centreline of the field whereas a bar or bars need not.

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

Ceský Krumlov, Czech Republic Dalecarlia, Sweden Spytkowicem, Poland
Flag of Ceský Krumlov, Czech Republic (fotw); Flag of Dalecarlia, Sweden (fotw); Flag of Spytkowicem, Poland (Jarig Bakker)

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’.


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’, and ‘boat flag 3)’).

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.

The heraldic term for a narrow horizontal stripe that is rarely bourn 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 ‘Appendix VI’, ‘bar’, ‘barry’, ‘filet’ and ‘wavy’).


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 ‘Appendix VI’ ‘barry wavy’ and ‘multi-stripe’ (also ‘banner of arms’, ‘bar’, ‘barrulet’, ‘bar’, ‘quartering 1)’ and ‘tincture’).

bar bar bar
Example; Civil Ensign of Luxembourg (fotw); Arms of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Croatia (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’ (also ‘appendix VI’).

barry barry barry
Arms and Flag of Trogir, Croatia (fotw); Flag of St Paul’s Bay, Malta (fotw)

1) In heraldry a term for the lower section of a shield or banner of arms, which heraldic use frequently suggests should occupy roughly one-third of the total depth of that shield or flag - a Champagne (see also ‘banner 1)’, ‘coat of arms’, ‘field’, ‘pointed’ and ‘shield’).
2) In vexillology an alternative name for the bottom edge of a flag.

example of base

In US Air Force usage, a post flag (see also ‘post flag 1)’).

See ‘beach flag’.

bathing flag bathing flag bathing flag
Safe Bathing, Bathing with Caution and No Bathing Flags, Spain (fotw)

A term for a metal band sometimes placed on the staff of a military or national colour (usually below the lower edge of the flag), and showing the battalion and regiment to which it belonged – a ring (see also ‘battle honour’, ’colour 2)’ and ‘staff 2)’.

Please note that as far as can be determined, this was a custom formerly in the US Army (but still in use in the US Marine Corps) and also in some European forces. see supplemental note

A generic term for those flags having heraldic (or armorial) symbolism that were carried into battle during the medieval period (see also ‘banner 1)’, ‘banneret 2)’, ‘battle standard’, ‘livery colours’, ‘lance pennon 1)’, ‘pennoncelle’ ‘pennoncier’ and ‘standard 3)’).

[battle banner] [battle banner]
Lance Pennon of Sir Robert Knolles. Knight Banneret c1360; England; Heraldic Standard of King Richard III 1483 – 1485, England (fotw)

In US usage, the organizational colour of a combatant Marine Corps unit or of the Corps as a whole when carried by dismounted troops (see also ‘branch of service flag’).

US Marine Corps battle color
Battle Colour of the Marine Corps, US (Sea Flags)

In US naval usage, a triangular pennant that is flown (from the foremast) to indicate that the vessel has achieved superior performance in an operational environment – an E pennant or meatball (see also ‘award flag’).

battle efficiency pennant  battle efficiency pennant
Battle Efficiency and Special Battle Efficiency Pennants. USN

In UK usage and in some others, one or more large naval ensigns flown from the yardarms of a warship prior to commencing - and during - a surface engagement at sea (see also ‘naval ensign’ under ‘ensign’ and ‘yardarm’).

A warship raises additional large-sized ensigns prior to an engagement at sea for added identification and in case one or more are shot away - see ‘strike’.
b) Dominion/Commonwealth navies (such as those of Australia and Canada) which formerly fought under the British white ensign are known to have (sometimes) flown their respective national flags as an additional battle ensign.

1) A flag (either official or unofficial) that is specifically intended for use in battle – either to avoid confusion with the flag of an enemy or to convey a patriotic sentiment – and used in addition to or instead of military colours (see also ‘colour 2)’, ‘colours 2)’, ‘Southern Cross 2)’) and ‘stainless banner’.
2) In US naval usage, an unofficial flag, sometimes marked with stars to recall the number of times a particular vessel has been in combat, and flown from the yardarm when entering or leaving port, completing underway refuelling, parting company with other ships, or similar occasions – a house flag or unrep flag (see also ‘yardarm’).
3) In US naval usage now obsolete, an unofficial flag which, defaced by a number of varying symbols, was used by submarines to signify that the boat flying it had successfully engaged an enemy – but see ‘jolly roger 2)’ (also ‘deface’).
4)In some Central and East European usage (e.g. the Romanian Drapel de lupta literally meaning battle flag) - an alternative term for an army flag or a military colour – but see ‘colour 2)’ (also ‘war flag 2)’)

Battle flag of CSA Battle flag of USS Harry S Truman Battle flag of USS Jack 1944 Battle flag of Georgia
Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, CSA 1861 – 1865 (fotw); Battle/House Flag of USS Harry S Truman, US (sea flags); Battle Flag of USS Jack 1944, US (sea flags); Battle Flag of Georgia (fotw)

Please note with regard to 2), that these flags have no standard pattern, official existence or meaning, but are designed and used by individual ship’s companies to express pride in their vessels, that their use has become traditional in the US Navy, that US and that other naval forces have official naval code signals to order and conduct operations such as underway replenishment (with these unofficial flags being hoisted in addition).

A mark of distinction, usually including the name of a battle or campaign, added to a regimental or other unit colour to show that unit’s military service. This may take the form of an inscription within a ribbon scroll applied to the field of the colour, or a metal band (or bands) around the staff, or a metal clip attached to a streamer, or to the streamer itself – a battle streamer or honorary distinction (see also ‘battalion ring’, ‘colour 2)’, ‘ferrule’, ‘staff 2)’ ‘streamer 1)’ and ‘streamer retaining ring’, and compare with ‘augmentation of honour’).

Battle honour
Regimental Colour , 1st Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment, UK c1952 showing (uniquely) both ribbon scrolls and a streamer (Klaus-Michael Schneider)

Please note however, that in many navies ships show their battle honours on a carved board or similar on ceremonial occasions, or when the ship is open to visitors rather than on a unit flag.

A term, now obsolete, for the Scottish heraldic standard as carried in battle, and there are indications that it was the smallest of three sizes (see also ‘standard 4)’, ‘pageant standard’, ‘pinsel’ and ‘great standard’).

Laird of Clan Barclay
Standard of the Laird of Clan Barclay (The Flag Center)

See ‘embattled’.

Flag of Miren, Slovenia
Flag of Miren, Slovenia (fotw)

See ‘battle honour’.

[battle streamer]
Battle Streamer Awarded for the Liberation and Defence of Kuwait 17 January - 11 April 1991, US (fotw)

A 13th Century term, now obsolete, for the plain red streamer flown from a ship’s masthead (in northern European waters) to signify that ‘no quarter would be given’, and the size according to record was 30 yards (24.45m) long by 2 yards (1.82m) wide (see also ‘flag of defiance’ and ‘streamer 2)’).


This flag first appears in records of the 1290s, and is considered to have been a direct ancestor of the later flag of defiance.
b) "No quarter would be given" indicates that surrender would not be accepted and all prisoners killed.

A medieval term for the black and white banner of the Knights Templar – the balzaus (see also balcanifer’ and ‘rounded cross’).

[Bauceant] [Bauceant]
Two Conjectural Images of the Bauceant (fotw)

An 11th Century wall hanging that records the Norman invasion of English in 1066, and considered to be a primary source of pre-heraldic symbolism (see also ‘pallia’, ‘pre-heraldic’ and ‘raven flag’),

[Bayeux tapestry] [Bayeux tapestry]
Fragment of the Tapestry (Wikipedia); One interpretation of the Pallia given to William of Normandy in 1066 as shown in that Tapestry (fotw)

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