EXPATRIATE Scots have clubbed together to sort out a sartorial deficiency in Scotland's supreme arbiter on heraldry. For the last 250 years the Lord Lyon King of Arms has been wearing a collar of state, a key symbol of his office, which is . . . er . . . English.

Instead of the traditional Scottish chain made up of thistles and rue (supposedly the sacred plant of the Picts), it has S-shaped links favoured in England's heraldic tradition and originally the Lancastrian emblem.

The old chain went missing in the aftermath of Culloden.

However, a rallying call to St Andrew's societies around the world has resulted in a new collar of state which will be presented to the current Lord Lyon, Sir Malcolm Innes of Edingight, early in December.

The idea came from Californian attorney Mark Dennis, now an advocate at the Scottish Bar. ''It is a gift from the Scottish diaspora to the Queen, her Lord Lyon, and the Scottish people,'' he said.

Mr Dennis, a long-standing enthusiast of Scottish culture and a critic of phoney tartan kitsch which often substitutes for it, set about writing to St Andrew's societies around the world, asking each to pay for a link.

''Each of the 40 links is engraved with the donor society. It is wonderful. I am an American and I like the idea that it is something real and something permanent. It ties us with our past,'' he said.

The cost of the solid gold chain, made by fellow American Donald McKee, of Colorado, was ''modest''. It also features an oval pendant showing St Andrew and the Cross.

The collar design has been recreated from images of the old one in portraits of former Lords Lyon.

The present Lord Lyon is said to be very pleased with the gesture and the new collar although a spokesman for the Lyon Court declined to comment.

The Court does have a serious role as the guardian of authentic Scotland against the bogus Brigadoon myths, although sometimes it does give fodder to detractors.

One of its leaflets warns of the dangers of fake heraldry which ''only leads sooner or later to social humiliation''.

It says: ''It is not only illegal, but a social crime and error of the most grave character, to assume and purport to use your Chief's arms without a due and congruent difference. Anyone who does so merely publishes their own ignorance, and use of such on seal or notepaper will close the doors of all the best families against the presumptuous upstart.'' So there.

The Court keeps a register of all arms and bearings in Scotland since 1672.