Each Lord and Chief had his own banner-bearer, whose duty was to remain close to his master’s side, his flag identifying him in battle amongst the many armour-encased knights. Needless to say, this was a most perilous task, as any personal defence would be hampered by custody of the banner which, in turn, would make him a target.
In the event that a bannerman was slain, or so badly injured he could not continue, another of his master’s entourage would raise the standard and ‘fly the flag’.
Testament, if any were needed, to the unqualified courage of such a role.
This is the Bruce’s own bannerman.
Given the significance of the responsibilities of the Banner Bearer in the field of conflict, it is strange how little information is attributed to this hazardous role and to the individuals whose lives must have been more under threat than most in battle. There will have been pride in heralding the arrival of great warriors or Peacemakers. But to hold fast in battle, in a sea of surging bodies where the glorious rag above you is nothing less than a magnet for every enemy, will have taken a very special kind of courage.
With the weight of responsibility in the control of one hand and a solid shield for protection in the other, the opportunity to actively defend oneself from swords, pikes, axes or arrows would be few and far between. What courage has he, having seen a Banner fall, steps into the melee, abandoning all thoughts of defence, and uses every sinew to lift it high once more, signalling to all that while it flies, there will is hope and courage enough to win the day?