CAITHNESS has become the first mainland county in Scotland to have its own flag as the winning design has been unveiled to the public for the first time.
The winning design was unveiled at a ceremony in Caithness House in Wick.
Over 40 per cent of people who cast their vote chose the Nordic cross design which symbolises the ancient ties of the county to the Vikings.
The winning design was created by Andrea Merchant from Wick.
The black recalls the county's geology with the famous Caithness flagstone, while the gold and blue refer to the beaches and sea to reinforce the maritime nature of the county and its heritage.
In the first quarter is charged a galley, which is the traditional emblem of Caithness, including a raven upon its sail as it appears in the county's civic arms.
Representatives of Highland Council, community councils and public organisations from across the county were in attendance at the event.
A celebratory march took place with Caithness Landward councillor David Bremner playing the bagpipes and leading a parade from Wick Town Hall to Caithness House.
Students from primary schools across Caithness were invited to the ceremony and were given miniature flags to bring back to their classrooms.
More than 700 people cast their votes on four designs shortlisted from 327 entries submitted by the public from across the world.
The winning design received 291 votes with the Pictish cat design coming second with 226 votes.
Each of the designs was judged in June by a panel which included the Lord Lyon, Flag Institute vexillologist Philip Tibbets, Caithness ward manager David Sutherland, NOSN editor Iain Grant and Highland councillors Gillian Coghill, Gail Ross and Roger Saxon.
Lord Lyon Dr Joseph Morrow, the chief heraldic authority in Scotland, approved the design and personally bought the first flag to be produced which will go on public display at Caithness House.
He said it was a symbol which would become part of the county’s history. “I was delighted Caithness was the first county to petition me for a flag on the mainland,” he said. “It’s good to see a lively community interest in something like this.
“One of the great experiences for me is to see the identity and pride people have in their community.
“What took place in this flag competition was people having a real sense of identity and belonging, which has to be celebrated.
“Importantly, while this is a new flag, it’s part of a history and recording of flags and arms in Caithness, and is part of community development.
“Also, this is a flag that will give Caithness an identity outwith the area to help economic development and encourage people to come to the area.”