In Dunvegan Castle Hall is the MacLeod’s most precious treasure. It’s a flag, rather tattered, made of faded brown silk and darned in places. This is the MacLeods Fairy Flag.
In 1066, King Harald Hardrada of Norway set out to conquer England. He took with him the magic flag, “Land Ravager”. This flag guaranteed victory to whoever owned it. In the Battle of Stamford Bridge, Harald Hardrada was killed and the flag disappeared!
Dunvegan’s MacLeods can trace their ancestry back to Harald and have in their possession a tattered silk flag called the Fairy Flag. It was never revealed how the fairy flag came to be at Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, the home of the MacLeods, but a MacLeod was said to have received it when he was in the Holy Land on a crusade.
There is a tradition that if MacLeods are in danger in battle, they can unfold the Fairy Flag and then they will be invincible. But magic only works three times, and it has been used twice in the past.
In 1490, the MacLeods face a desperate battle against the MacDonalds. They unrolled the flag and immediately the tide of battle turned. Many of the MacDonalds were killed and the victory went to the MacLeods.
The second time was at Waternish in 1520. Again, the MacDonalds, from the Clanranald branch, were the enemy and the MacLeods were outnumbered. The fairy flag was unfurled and the MacDonalds hit!
During World War II, many young clan members participated in a photograph of the flag as a lucky charm.
Unfortunately, the flag did not fully work when Dunvegan Castle was badly damaged by fire in 1938, but without the fairy flag perhaps the castle was completely destroyed. Who knows?