Covenanters' Banner, around 1679

This banner is believed to have been made to be carried at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge by John Main, elder, of Ballochney. The army of Covenanters were defeated by government troops. Main is said to have escaped the battle and the banner was kept in his family.

Although the lettering is frayed, in its intact state it read: "East Munkland (sic) For Reformation In Church And State, According To The Word Of God And Our Covenants." The bible is open at Psalms LXXXVI and LXXXVII (86 & 87) on the left hand page and Ephesians 2 and 3 on the right. In the top-right of the banner is an enclosed thistle topped by a crown, surrounded by the motto 'nemo me impune lacessit' - "no one harrasses me with impunity". This motif has long been associated with Scottish royalty, but in particular the Stuarts. This is despite their hostility to the Covenanters. Its use is likely as a recognition of and deference to the idea of 'legitimate' royal authority as opposed to the Stuart dynasty themselves.

The mailed fist emerging from a cloud grasps a sword with a wavy blade. This is almost certainly drawing upon Biblical symbolism, illustrating the ways in which the Covenanters drew upon religious imagery to frame their own struggle. It could quite possibly represent the "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). It could also be a reference to the Book of Genesis, which describes the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden as being guarded by a cherubim (angel) with a flaming sword after Adam and Eve had taken its fruit. Either analogy represent the righteous defence of the works of God from human wrongdoing, and a clear allusion to the fight waged by supporters of the Covenant against attempts by the Crown to impose Anglican worship in the Church of Scotland.

In the 'Memoirs of Rev James Begg, D.D.', by Rev. Thomas Smith, D.D. (published 1885, accessible online at http://nesherchristianresources.org/JBS/ebooks/begg_memoir/begg_memoir_01.html) Begg describes the banner and the detachment that carried it: "The people of New Monkland sent a detachment of men to the battle of Bothwell Bridge, John Main, elder, Ballochnie, being the standard-bearer. He carried a handsome yellow silk banner emblazoned with inscriptions and emblems in gold, which is still preserved by his descendants, and which I have often seen - indeed, which I got some time ago repaired...Eleven men from New Monkland were killed at Bothwell Bridge, including Andrew Yuill, the gardener of Rochsoles, which is close to my father's manse, and others with names and from places still equally well known in the parish." This banner was handed down through the Main family and took pride of place in their pub, the Gushet House in Airdrie, until it was donated to Airdrie Museum.

Museum reference:
NLC-1998-1414
Date:
1679
On display:
Local Studies
Associated with:
1679 · East Munkland Covenanters · Main family · Ballochney, Scotland
Bothwell, Scotland · Battle of Bothwell Bridge,
Main, John · Plains, Scotland
Alexander Street, Airdrie, Scotland
Dimensions:
height: 1670mm
width: 1400mm
depth: 65 mm
Materials:
silk
Inscriptions:
Nemo me impune lac[...] East Munkland for Church and State according to the Word of God and our Covenants
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