In armies at different times in history the term ancient or ensign is used to describe these bearers in an army and indicated a rank that was associated with the post. In Medieval times, terms for banner bearers included bannerer and banior. To be a bannerer was a position of high honour, especially when the flag being carried was of high significance, like the French Oriflamme.
Banner Bearers in the SCA
Although banner bearers are not often seen in SCA combat, their inclusion in an army adds panache and like their Mediaeval counterparts, they can be morale boosters for their comrades in arms. In some scenarios, banner bearers might simply stand near the edge of a battlefield to indicate the presence of a particular fighting band, kingdom, or household; while in others they may find themselves in the thick of the action.
Whether or not they take an active part in a battle, banner bearers must be authorized fighters. They may carry a flag attached to a spear, but it is more appropriate that a banner pole not be a weapon, though it must be sturdy enough to take some punishment without splintering (e.g., rattan or the same fiberglass of which spear shafts are made). Such a banner pole can be used defensively but not to attack.