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More Heraldic Info

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The following are some of the more common
heraldic symbols and their meanings
as suggested by some historians:

Acacia Branch or Leaves Eternal and affectionate remembrance
Acorn Antiquity and strength.
Agricultural Tools Labouring in the earth and depending upon providence; see also Scythe and Sickle
Alisaunder (Similar to laurel) Peace and/or triumph.
Allerion (Mythical creature, similar to an eagle, but without beak or claws) Strength of will and authority of mind.
AnchorAnchor Hope; religious steadfastness
Angels
(See Sample Angels)
Dignity, glory, and honour; missionary; bearer of joyful news
Annulet
(finger ring)
Fidelity
Ant Great labour, wisdom, and providence in one's affairs
Antelope (heraldic) A mythical animal with the body of a stag, the tail of a unicorn, a tusk at the tip of the nose, tufts down the back of the neck, chest, and thighs (usually represented with two straight horns serrated on one side)
Antlers Strength and fortitude
Anvil Honour; emblem of the smith's trade
Apple Liberality, felicity, and peace
Arm (or Hand) in Armour or Embowed A person with qualities of leadership
Arm, Naked An industrious person
Arrow or Dart Readiness (for battle); if depicted with a cross, represents an affliction
Ass Patience and humility
Axe
(Also Halbert, Halberd, Hatchet)
Execution of military duty
Baguette (gem ring) Fidelity
Banderole See Banners
Banners (See banderole) Refer to special action in which bearer was captured, or a reward for valiant service
Bar, Barry, or Barrulet "One who sets the bar of conscience, religion, and honour against angry passions and evil temptations" acc. to Guillim
Barry Wavy Troubles keep us in continuous exercise and reminders of providence (as waves in a storm at sea)
Bat Awareness of the powers of darkness and chaos.
Baton Token of authority
Battle Axe (See Axe) Execution of military duty
Bay Leaves Poet or victor's laurel
Beacon
(Also Lantern or Lighthouse)
One who is watchful, who gave the signal in time of danger
Bear Strength, cunning, ferocity in the protection of one's kindred
Beaver Industry and perseverance
BeeBee Efficient industry
Bells Power to disperse evil spirits; a hawk's bells denotes one who was not afraid of signalling his approach in peace or war
Bend/Bendy Scarf or shield suspender of a knight commander; signifies defense or protection
Berries Liberality, felicity, and peace
Bezant/Byzantine Coin
(Also Besant; Gold Roundle)
Worthy of trust of treasure.
Billet/Billettee Bricks or letters (correspondence); one who obtained credence, knowledge, and faith in his words and deeds; one who is secret in one's affairs.
Birdbolt (See Arrow) Small arrow with blunt head.
Bishop's Mitre Authority
Blasted Tree without leaves, withered
BoarBoar passant Bravery; fights to the death
Boar's Head Hospitality
Bonacon (See Bull) Bull with horse's tail and short mane.
Bomb (Mortar piece) One who has dared the terror of such a weapon in battle
Bones (crossed thighbones) Mortality
Book
(See Sample Books and Bibles)
If open, manifestation; if closed, counsel
Border Difference between relatives bearing the same arms; also an augmentation of an honour
Bourdon See pilgrim's or palmer's staff -- knob at upper end, point at bottom, hook near top
Bow Readiness (for battle)
Bow and Arrow War, power, ability to hit a target
Braced Interlaced
Bracket May be single or double; right angle-shaped support, as in a shelf support
Bridge Governor or magistrate
Broom Plant Humility
Buck One who will not fight unless provoked; peace and harmony
Buckle Victorious fidelity in authority
Buglass (purple quatrefoil) Hope and joy.
Bull/Buffalo Valour, bravery, generosity
Bull's Head Valour, bravery, generosity
Bull's Horns Strength and fortitude
Butterfly Psyche or Soul
Cadences (Marks of Cadences) Used to differentiate the heirs in a family.. see Marks of Cadency web page
CaduceusCaduceus Homeopathic medicine; medical profession; balance and the union of opposing forces
CaltrapCaltrap
Candle (Lamp) Light, life, and spirituality.
Camel Docility, patience, and perseverance
Cannon and Cannon Balls One who has dared the terror of such a weapon in battle
Candle (Lamp) Light, life, and spirituality
Canton As in a flag borne at the top corner of the shield; reward from the sovereign for performance of eminent service
Cap of Maintenance Granted to British peers and Scottish feudal barons (see "Chapeau")
Carnation Admiration
Carpenter's Square Conforming one's actions to the laws of right and equity
Castle (Tower/Chateau) Safety
Cat
(Also Wildcat or Lynx)
Liberty, vigilance, forecast, and courage
Catherine WheelCatherine Wheel One prepared to undergo great trials for the Christian faith
Centaur Eminence in the field of battle
Chains Reward for acceptable and weighty service; with crowns and collars, this suggests the bearer bore the chain of obligation or obliged others because of services done
Chapeau (See also "cap of maintenance") Granted to British peers and Scottish feudal barons
Chaplet (Floral) Usually with green leaves and four roses: the crown of joy and admiration
Chequy Constancy
Cherubs & Cherubim
(See Sample Angels)
Dignity, glory, and honour; missionary; bearer of joyful news
Chess Rook Strategic thinking
Chevron Protection; Builders or others who have accomplished some work of faithful service
Chief Top one-third of the shield; signifies dominion and authority; often granted as a special reward for prudence and wisdom or successful command in war
Chough (Cornish Crow) Strategist in battle; watchful for friends
Church
(See Sample Churches)
Religion; faith; community
Cinquefoils Hope and joy
Civic Wreath (of oak leaves and acorns) One who saved a fellow citizen's life or shown patriotism in defense of one's native land
ClarionClarion Ready for war
Claw of a Bird Note the preyer that has been preyed upon
Clouds Mystery, obscured truth
Cock (male bird)Cock Reguardant Courage and perseverance; hero; able man in politics
Cockatrice
(small serpent)
Terror to all beholders
Column Fortitude and constancy; with serpent coiled around it, wisdom with fortitude
Comet Unknown
Compass Direction
Compony or Gobony Constancy
Cornish Chough (crow, raven; See "chough") Strategist in battle; watchful for friends; divine providence
Cornucopia (horn of plenty) The bounty of nature's gifts
Cottice/Cotice (bendlet) Scarf or shield suspender of a knight commander; signifies defense or protection
Coupeaux (Hills - usually three) Unknown; may be purely an artistic device
Crane (Stork) Close parental bond; Vigilance if holding a rock
Crescent One who has been honored by the sovereign; hope of greater glory (horns to the chief)
Cresset (See "Beacon") One who is watchful, who gave the signal in time of danger
Crosier/shepherd's crook The shepherd's watchfulness; Christian faith; pastoral authority; also Episcopal jurisdiction and authority
Cross
(See Examples)
Faith; Christianity; Service in the Crusades
Cross (Celtic) Unity of heaven and earth
Cross (Constantine's; Labarum) Good omen; Christ; Christianity
Cross Crosslet Signifies the fourfold mystery of the cross
Cross Crosslet Fitchee A combination of cross and sword; unshakeable faith
Cross Flory
(Patoncee)
(cross flowered at each end) One who has conquered
Cross Formee (Pattee) Military honour
Cross (Maltese) Blessings; badge of Knights Hospitalier
Cross Moline The mutual converse of human society (said to represent a millstone)
Cross Raguly Difficulties encountered
Cross Roucy Faith
Crossed thighbones Mortality
Crow (See also "Chough") Strategist in battle; watchful for friends; divine providence
Crown
(See Examples)
Royal or seigniorial authority
Crown (Mural) Defender of a fortress, token of civic honour; one who first mounted the breach in the walls of a fortress
Crown (Naval) One who first boarded an enemy's ship; distinguished naval commander
Crown of thorns Adversity
Cup (often covered) Office of the king's butler
Cushions Authority
Cygnet (young swan) Where gorged with a crown around its neck, signifies dignity
Cypress Death and eternal life thereafter
Dagger or dart Justice and military honour
Dawle (black quatrefoil) Hope and joy
Decrescent One who has been honored by the sovereign; hope of greater glory (crescent with horns to the sinister)
Deer One who will not fight unless provoked; peace and harmony
Dice Constancy
Dog Courage, vigilance, and loyalty
Dolphin Swiftness, diligence, salvation, charity, and love
DoveDove Loving constancy and peace; the Holy Spirit; with an olive branch in its bill, it signifies a harbinger of good tidings
Dragon
(See Examples)
Valiant defender of treasure; valour and protection
Drops (Guttees) One who has endured torrents of liquids, as in battle, depending upon the color of the liquid.
Yellow: gold
Blue: tears
Green: oil
White: water
Black: pitch or tar
Red: blood
Drum Ready for war
Duck
(Also Teal)
Person of many resources
Eagle
(See Examples)
Person of noble nature, strength, bravery, and alertness; or one who is high-spirited, ingenious, quick-witted, and judicious; "True magnanimity and strength of mind" acc. to Guillim.
If wings "displayed," it signifies protection
Eagle with two heads Conjoining of two forces
Elephant Great strength, wit, longevity, happiness, royalty, good luck, and ambition
Enfield Mythical beast said to have protected fallen chieftains' bodies for proper burial
Ermine SpotErmine Spot Mark of dignity
Escallop (scallop shell) Traveller to far places or victorious naval commander
Escarbuncle Supremacy; brilliant gem
Escutcheon or small shield, alone, with no charges Defense
Escutcheon of Pretence (Small shield in center of primary shield.) Claim of a prince to sovereignty; or marriage to an heiress of the family
Estoile (star with six wavy points) Celestial goodness; noble person
Eye Providence in government
Falcon (Hawk)
(See Examples)
One who does not rest until objective achieved
FascesFasces A bundle or rods tied together around an axe, with the blade projecting out; Symbol of a magistrate's authority and the judiciary. (It appears on the reverse side of the U.S. Liberty-head dime.)
Feathers (usually ostrich feathers) Sign of obedience and serenity
Fer de moline
(millrind)
Center of the millstone, by which it is turned
Fess/Fesse Military belt or girdle of honour; represents readiness to serve the public
Fetterlock Victory; one who has taken prisoners or rescued prisoners of war
Fife Ready for war
Finger, pointing Direction; correct route
Fire
(See also sample Firefighting Symbols)
Zealousness
Fish A true, generous mind; virtuous for himself, not because of his heritage; also unity with Christ, spiritual nourishment
Flag or Pennant Refers to special action in which bearer was captured, or a reward for valiant service
Flanchi/flasque/flanches
(Also flaunches)
Given by a king for virtue and learning
Fleece (lamb's) Ancient honour from the knightly order of the Fleece of Gold
Fleur-de-lis
(See Examples)
Purity; light; floral badge of France; represents sixth son as mark of difference
Flint stone Readiness for zealous service
Flowers Hope and joy
Fountain Usually a roundle, crossed with wavy bars of blue and white; represents water, a spring
Fox One who will use all that he/she may possess of wisdom and wit in his/her own defense
Fraises Strawberries; usually refers to the cinquefoil
Fret
(saltire through
a mascle)
(Also, fretty or latticework)
Persuasion
Fruit Felicity and peace
Fusil
(narrow lozenge)
Travel and labour
Fusil of Yarn (yarn with the spindle) Negotiation
Galley See Ship
Gannet (duck without beak or legs) One who has to subsist by virtue and merit
Garb (wheatsheaf) The harvest of one's hopes has been secured
Gauntlet Armed for the performance of martial enterprise
Gavel Justice; legal authority
Gem or Jewel Supremacy
Gillyflower (tawney quatrefoil) Hope and joy
Globe Worldliness; world travel
Goat One who wins through politics rather than war
Gobony or Gobbony Constancy
Goose Resourcefulness
Gorged (around neck) High dignity
Grapes Liberality, felicity, and peace; also, association with wine-making
Grasshopper Noble and home-bred
Grenade One who has dared the terror of such a weapon in battle
Greyhound Courage, vigilance, and loyalty
Griffin (Head, wings, and talons of an eagle with the body of a lion); Valour and death-defying bravery; vigilance
GyronnyGyronny Unity (six- or eight-part division of the shield)
Hammer Honour; emblem of the smith's trade
Hand Pledge of faith, sincerity, and justice;
two right hands conjoined represent union and alliance
Hand, red Mark of a baronet
Hare One who enjoys a peaceable and retired life
Harp Well-composed person of tempered judgment; contemplation; mystical bridge between heaven and earth
Harpy
(virgin's face, neck and breast with the body of a lion)
Ferocity under provocation
Hart (male deer) Peace and harmony
Hawk (Falcon) One who does not rest until objective achieved
Hawks' lures: One who is fond of the highest pursuits, such as hunting and falconry
Hazel branch or leaves Hope and joy
Head (Human) Honour; if the head of a "blackamoor" or Moor, refers to deeds of prowess in the Crusades
Heart, Flaming Intense, burning affection
Heart, Human Charity and sincerity
Hedgehog "Provident provider" acc. to Sloane Evans
Helmet When depicted on the shield, denotes wisdom and security in defense; strength, protection, invulnerability
Hind (female deer) Peace and harmony
Holly Truth
Horns Strength and fortitude
Horse (See also Seahorse)
See Sample Horses
Readiness for all employments for king and country
Horseshoe Good luck and safeguard against evil spirits
Hourglass Flight of time; mortality
Housemark Presumably adopted by the bearers as forms of unique identification of European homes
Huitfoil
(double quatrefoil)
Mark of cadency for the ninth son
Human Head Honour (if the head of a Blackamoor, it refers to deeds of prowess in the Crusades)
Humettee Describes an element that does not touch the sides of the shield
Hunting Horn One who is fond of the chase, of high pursuits
Hydra (dragon with seven heads) Conquest of a very powerful enemy
Increscent/Increment One who has been honored by the sovereign; hope of greater glory (crescent with horns to the dexter)
Inescutcheon See "Escutcheon of Pretence"
Ivy Leaves Strong and lasting friendship
Inkhorn or Inkwell Art of writing and educated employment
Jessamine (white quatrefoil) Hope and joy
Jessant de lis With a fleur-de-lis shooting out, i.e., from the mouth of a leopard or lion; Represents dominion over France.
Keys Guardianship and dominion
Knight (especially on horseback) The soul guiding the body; man's journey through life
Labarum (Constantine's Cross) Good omen; Christianity
Label Label Indicates first-born. See Marks of Cadency
Ladder (Scaling Ladder) One who was fearless in attacking; if against a tower, be on guard against spiritual and corporeal enemies
Lamb or Ewe Gentleness and patience under suffering
Lamb carrying staff or banner with a cross
(paschal lamb)
Faith; innocence, bravery, gentleness, purity, resolute spirit
Lamp/Lantern
(See also "Candle")
Light, life, and spirituality
Lance or Javelin The perfection of martial affairs; emblem of knightly service; devotion to honour
Laurel Leaves Peace and/or triumph
Leg Strength, stability, and expedition
Leopard or Ounce Valiant and hardy warrior who enterprises hazardous things by force and courage
Leopard's head swallowing a fleur-de-lis (jessant) Represents the lion of England swallowing the lily of France
Letter (i.e., A, B, C) May represent great battles or tournaments beginning with that letter
Level Equity and upright action; virtuous person
Lightning Bolt Swiftness and power
Lily Purity; see "Fleur-de-lis"
Linden branch or leaves Hope and joy
LionRampant Lion
(See Sample Lions)
Dauntless courage
Lion, heraldic Bravery, strength, ferocity, and valour
Lozenge or Lozengy
Constancy
Lunel (Four crescent moons facing each other) One who has been honored by the sovereign; hope of greater glory
Lure (hawk's) One who is fond of the highest pursuits, such as hunting and falconry
Lymphad See Ship
Lyre Contemplation; tempered judgment
Man Various meanings
Marigold Devotion and piety
Martlet
(footless swallow)
Symbol of the fourth son (mark of difference); may signify one who has to subsist by virtue and merit, not inheritance
Mascle
(hollowed out lozenge)
Persuasive
Mastiff Courage, vigilance, and loyalty
Matches (Usually in a roll and fired) Possible reference ot one who has dared the terror of such a weapon in battle
Maunch (lady's sleeve) "For my lady's sake"
Mermaid Eloquence
Millpick Miller's tool
Millrind
(or millstone)
The mutual converse of human society; miller's tool
Mitre (Bishop's)Mitre Authority
Mole Unknown
Monkey Unknown
Moon Serene power over mundane actions
Moor/Saracen/Turk Dates back to the Middle Ages when it was considered an honor to take a Moor's head
Moor fowl or Moor-cock Association with the law or the legal profession
Mortar Piece One who has dared the terror of such a weapon in battle
Mount/Mound
(See "Coupeaux")
(Rounded terrace at base of the shield) Unknown; may be purely an artistic device
Mulberries Liberality, felicity, and peace
Mule Often borne by abbots and abbesses who have pastoral jurisdiction, but not real jurisdiction
Mullet
(Star)
Divine quality from above; mark of third son
Musical Pipes Festivity and rejoicing
Oak Garb or Sheaf The harvest of one's hopes has been secured
Oak Tree, Leaves, Bush Great age and strength
Oak Tree/Bush with Acorns Continuous growth and fertility
Olive Branch or Leaves Peace and concordance
Orle Circle of something; Preservation or protection
Ostrich/Ostrich plumes Willing obedience and serenity
Otter One who lives life to the fullest
Owl One who is vigilant and of acute wit
Ox Valour and generosity
Pale/Palet/Pallet/Paly
Military strength
Palm Branch Victory, justice, and royal honour
Palm Tree Righteousness and resurrection; victory
Panther Fierce, but tender and loving to children and will defend her children with her life
Parchment/Scroll/Diploma Possible reference to academic or scholarly achievement
Parrot Unknown
Paschal LambPaschal Lamb Faith, innocence, bravery, gentleness, purity, resolute spirit
Passion Nails Token of poignant suffering undergone by the bearer
Pavilion Readiness for battle
PeacockPeacock Beauty, power, and knowledge
Peacock FeatherPeacock Feather Beauty, power, and knowledge
Pears Felicity and peace
Pegasus Poetic genius and inspiration; messenger of God
PelicanPelican Vulning Self-sacrifice and charitable nature; When feeding her young ("in her piety"), symbolizes the duties of a parent or parental love
Pen Art of writing and educated employment
Pennon or Flag Refers to some special action in which it was captured or as a reward for gallant service
Periwinkle (blue quatrefoil) Hope and joy
Pheasant Person of many resources
Pheon
(Spear-head)
Dexterity and nimble wit; readiness for battle
Phoenix Symbol of resurrection
Pig Fertility
Pike (Fish) A true, generous mind; virtuous for himself, not because of his heritage; also unity with Christ, spiritual nourishment.
Pile Represents large pieces of wood used in building bridges; engineering skills, builder; May represent a pennon or flag
Pilgrim's Stave/
Palmer's Stave
The shepherd's watchfulness; Christian faith; pastoral authority; also may refer to early pilgrimages to Jerusalem
Pillar Fortitude and constancy; with serpent coiled around it, wisdom with fortitude
Pincers Honour; emblem of the smith's trade
Pine Death and eternal life thereafter
Pine Cone Life
Pipes (music) Festivity and rejoicing
Pitcher Office of service
Plant Hope and joy
Plow or Ploughshare Labouring in the earth and depending upon providence
Plume of feathers Sign of willing obedience and serenity of mind
Plummet Equity and upright action; virtuous person
Pomegranate Fruit Fertility and abundance
Poplar leaves Hope and joy
Poppy (sanguine quatrefoil) Hope and joy
Portcullis (castle gate) Protection in an emergency
Proboscides Elephant trunks; usually represented in pairs; the elephant symbolizes longevity, strength, royalty, dignity, patience, wisdom, happiness, and good luck
Quatrefoil (Primrose) Brings good tidings
Rabbit (Conie) One who enjoys a peaceable and retired life
Rainbow Good times after bad
Ram Authority
Rat Unknown
Ratch-hound (small hound) Loyalty, courage, and vigilance
Raven Divine providence
Ray or Rayonnee Glory and spendour; fountain of life; intelligence and enlightenment
Rhinoceros Ferocious when aroused
Rock Safety and protection; refuge
Rose Mark of the seventh son; Hope and joy; see also meanings for specific colors of roses
Rose, Red Grace and beauty
Rose, White Love and faith
Roundles Gold or yellow: bezants or byzantine coins (worthy of trust or treasure)
White: plate (generosity)
Green: pomme (apple)
Purple: golpe (wounded)
Blue: hurt or wortleberry
Black: pellet, ogress, or gunstone (cannon ball)
Red: torteau (communion wafer or manchet cake)
Tawney: orange (tennis ball)
Sabre (See Sword) Justice and/or military honour
Saddle Preparedness for active service
Salamander Protection
Salmon (See Fish)  
Saltire (St. Andrew's Cross) Resolution
Savage/Saracen Believed to be related to service in the Crusades
Scales Justice
Scallop Shell See "Escallop"
Sceptre The emblem of justice
Scythe or Sickle The hope of a fruitful harvest
Sea horse Power of the water
Seal/Sea lion Dauntless courage at sea
Seraphim (angel with three pairs of wings) Dignity, glory, and honour; missionary; bearer of joyful news
Serpent/Snake/Lizard Wisdom
Shacklebolt Victory; one who has taken prisoners or rescued prisoners of war
Shamrock Perpetuity; floral device of Ireland; also see Trefoil.
Shield When borne on the arms, represents the defender
Ship Ancient sea voyages
Ship, Dismasted Disaster at sea
Shutle (Weaver's Shuttle) Reference to the bearer's profession; i.e., textiles
Skull Mortality
Snail Deliberation and perseverance
Snake Wisdom (see also Serpent)
Spear/Pike Honourable warrior; valiant knight
Spear-heads (Pheons) Dexterity and nimble wit; readiness for battle
Sphere Geographical or scientific reference
Sphinx Omniscience and secrecy
Spider Wisdom, labour, and prudence
Spur or Spur Rowel Preparedness for active service; pressing onward
Square Symbols Constancy
Squirrel Lover of the woods
StagStag
(Also Reindeer)
One who will not fight unless provoked; peace and harmony
Stag's Antlers Strength and fortitude
Star (estoile or mullet) Celestial goodness; noble person
Steel Readiness for zealous service
Stirrup Preparedness for active service
Stool Hospitality
Stork Filial duty; close parental bond; If holding a rock, symbolizes vigilance
Sun Glory and splendour; fountain of life
Swallow One who is prompt and ready in doing business; also bringer of good news
Swan Poetic harmony and learning, or lover thereof; light, love, grace, sincerity, perfection
Sword/Dagger/Dart
Sabre/Scimitar
Justice and military honour
Table Hospitality
Tabor Festivity and rejoicing; dangerous if aroused
Talbot (hunting dog)Talbot Courage, vigilance, and loyalty
Tent Readiness for battle
Terrace Unknown; May be purely an artistic device
TigerTiger (Heraldic) Fierceness and valour; resentment; dangerous if aroused
Torch Life; zealousness; engaging in signal service; truth and intelligence
Tortoise Invulnerability to attack
Tower Safety and grandeur
Tree Trunk/Stump/Branch New life sprouting from the old
Tree Life and the mystical connection of the earth with heaven and the underworld
Trefoil or Shamrock
(three-leaved grass)
Perpetuity
Tressure Preservation or protection (prominent in the arms of Scotland)
Tressure Flory Counterflory Signifies the close and longterm alliance between France and Scotland
Trestle Hospitality
Trident Maritime dominion
Trumpet Ready for war
Unicorn
See Sample Unicorns
Extreme courage; virtue and strength
Vine Strong and lasting friendship
Vol (Set of Wings)Set of wings Swiftness and protection
Vulture Purification and maternity; also, virginity (in Christianity)
Walnut Leaves Hope and joy
Water Bouget One who carried water to an army or a besieged place
Wheat-Ears Faithful
Wheat Garb or Sheaf The harvest of one's hopes has been secured
Wheel Fortune; cycle of life
Wings Swiftness and protection
Wolf Reward from perseverance in long sieges and/or hard industry
Woodbine Leaves Love that does not injure that which it clings to
Woman Various meanings
Wreath of laurel leaves and berries Triumph
Wren Freedom
Wyvern
(Dragon with only two legs and armed tail)
Valour and protection
Yew Death and eternal life thereafter

 

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Fleur-de-lis Designs
1607 Agawela Avenue
Knoxville, Tennessee 37919-8320
U.S.A.
tel 865-540-9990 fax 865-540-9989