The Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) records that the Blue Blanket was the banner of the craftsmen of Edinburgh. However, Edinburgh was not the only place to have such a banner. Stirling and Perth also have one and, under lockdown in 2020, the Stirling and District Embroiderers’ Guild took on the task of embroidering, “a replica of the Stirling Blue Blanket and a banner for the Incorporated Trades of the City of Stirling”.
An early citation in DSL comes from the Basilicon Doron of King James VI (1599):
“The crafts-men think we should be content with their work how bad soever it be; and if they in anything be controlled, up goeth the blew-blanket.”
A later reference comes from Maitland’s History of Edinburgh in 1753. James III had been imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle and was allegedly rescued by the craftsmen of Edinburgh.
“As a perpetual Remembrance of the loyalty and Bravery of the Edinburghers … the King [James III] granted them a Banner or Standard , with Power to display the same in Defence of their King, Country and their own Rights. This Flag, at present denominated the Blue Blanket, is kept by the Convener of the Trades.”
In September 2016, The National reported from the Edinburgh Riding of the Marches that:
“There is also now a new version of the Blue Blanket, the affectionate name for the Standard of the Crafts Within the Burgh of Edinburgh, which could be raised to summon all the craftsmen of Scotland to fight in support of the monarch”.
This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel. Visit DSL Online at https://dsl.ac.uk.