A NEW Lyon is set to roar in Scotland. After 20 years Sir Malcolm Innes of Edingight, the Lord Lyon King of Arms, is to retire early next year.

To ensure the handover goes smoothly, a big game hunt for the new Lyon, as he is crisply known, began yesterday with an advert in The Herald, the first time in 700 years the post has been advertised.

The aim is to take the post into the twenty-first century, following Government policy on openness - and equality: applicants could also be female which would presumably make the new incumbent Lady Lyoness.

In a world which mixes Ruritania with Brigadoon, Lyon governs all things heraldic in Scotland.

The Lord Lyon office itself dates back at least to 1318 when Robert the Bruce inaugurated a King of Arms. No other herald in Europe has such jurisdiction and rank.

He can enforce all of the heraldic laws and create new ones, just as a monarch. He is also a Judge of the Realm. Scotland is possibly the only country where a court of heraldry and genealogy is fully integrated into the judicial system.

The hunt is being led by Mr David Stewart, head of judicial appointments at the Scottish Executive. He said Sir Malcolm, who took up the post in 1981, felt he had had enough. ''He has a bit of back trouble and is going at 62.''

He added: ''The post has never been advertised before. We are doing it now to open up competition and in keeping with Government openness on jobs. We are genuinely looking around for who might be right for this unusual post.

''The only real stipulation is that applicants must have a law degree.''

Mr Stewart said they had not advertised a salary ''because they did not want to chase people away''. However, it is understood that it will carry a full-time remuneration of between #40,000 and #50,000.

It could, Mr Stewart said, be done on a part-time basis, possibly three days a week.

Lyon deals with up to 150 petitions a year, as well as carrying out ceremonial duties. At times he will have to roar as Marks and Spencer in Glasgow and the Edinburgh Evening News have found in recent years through unwitting use of civic coats of arms.

Or in the case of David Hastings, a coach firm owner. His coaches were displaying a logo of a lion rampant on a gold shield which, unbeknown to him, belonged to the Earl of Wemyss and March. Faced with the prospect of #100 a day in fines and defacing of the coaches, he had the devices replaced. He was less than enamoured of the Lyon Court and its officials. ''As far as I am concerned they are just a load of pompous twits that want to give everybody a hard time for no reason.''

New grants of arms are made through a legal petition to the Lyon Court based on genealogical record and personal details. If accepted, Lyon will devise a suitable coat of arms based on the person's desires and the rules of heraldry.