As legend has it, when King Harald Hardrada (a Norwegian ruler) went to conquer England, he took with him a magic Fairy Flag – supposed to bring him victory. Well, it didn’t do him much good because he was killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. The flag later emerged at Dunvegan Castle, in the Isle of Skye, in Scotland, as the most prized heirloom of the MacLeod clan.Legends and historyIt’s not clear how the flag got into the MacLeods’ possession – either a gift from the fairies to an infant chieftain, a gift to a chief from a departing fairy-lover, or a reward for defeating an evil spirit. But the flag likely originated somewhere far away from Scotland, potentially even in the Middle East. In the 20th century, A.J.B. Wace of the Victoria and Albert Museum examined it and came to the conclusion that the silk is either Syria or Rhodes, and the darns were definitely made in the Middle East. The most likely theory is that it comes from the time of the Crusades. Both Harald Hardrada and the early MacLeods spent time in Constantinopole, and some even believe that the clan descended from Hardrada. But the MacLeod estate claims that the flag was dated to at least a couple of centuries before the Crusades, so it may be even older than that. But I like the legends a bit more than that.
The legendary Fairy Flag passed on by Scottish clan leaders for over 1,000 years