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Posted on 03/20/2013


LAMB- Normally painted with the staff and flag is the emblem of Christianity.

LANCE- Denotes one in active service as a knight.

LARK- An ancient symbol of eloquence.

LAUREL- Sometimes shown in a wreath, is the emblem of triumph.

LEGS IN ARMOR- The emblem of The Isle Of Man, seen also on the arms of MacLeod.

LEOPARD- Emblematic of a valiant warrior.

LILY- The regular kind, is the symbol of purity.

LION- Regarded as the noblest of all the wild beasts, making it the symbol of strength and valor. The best known heraldic symbol.

LIZARD- An emblem of vigilance.

LOCHABER AXE- From the Scottish region of the same name, a symbol of military duty.

LOZENGE- A diamond shape symbol of a widow.

LURE- A hawks lure, an emblem of pursuit.

LYMPHAD- An ancient one-masted ship, emblematic of expedition.

LYNX- The wildcat denotes vigilance.

MACE- Ornamental staff, the emblem of authority.

MAUNCH- The sleeve of a lady’s dress. Denotes service as a knight. It appears the cutting off of the sleeve and giving it to the knight was considered a high honor.

MARINE-WOLF- A rather fanciful name for a seal. A symbol of vigilance.

MARTLET- It was thought in medieval times that the swallow (martlet) did not have any feet. It is painted with two feathers where the feet should be and denotes somebody who subsists on wings of virtue.

MERMAID- The age-old symbol of eloquence.

MILL-RIND- The center part of the mill wheel, a symbol of industry.

MILL-Wheel. Another symbol of industry, often found in the arms of Miller.

MITRE- Emblem of high authority in the Church.

MOON- Emblematic of serenity.

MOUND- A ceremonial orb, the symbol of Sovereignty, Authority and Majesty.

MULLET- A star of 5,6,8, or 12 points associated with military service.

MURAL CROWN- A crown composed of bricks, an emblem of power.

MYRTLE- Given to those who were victorious at the Julian Games.

NAIL- A symbol of passion.

NAVAL-CROWN- Denotes one with service in the navy, composed of masts and rigging.

NIGHTINGALE- Emblematic of eloquence and truth.

OAK- Painted as the tree, or leaf, it is an emblem of virtue and strength.

OLIVE TREE- The best known symbol of peace and harmony.

OSTRICH- An emblem of knowledge and understanding.

OTTER- Denotes one who is intelligent and industrious.

OWL- No surprise, the symbol of prudence and wisdom.

OX- an emblem of persistence.

PALMER STAFF- Along with the Palmers Script, are symbols of those who fought in the Crusades.

PARCHMENT- Depicted in a roll, an emblem of wisdom.

PEACOCK- A symbol of power and omniscience, used in ecclesiastical heraldry often.

PEAR- Used as a canting device as in the name Perry, a symbol of plenty.

PEGASUS- The emblem of fame.

PELICAN-Normally depicted in heraldry wounding herself in the chest and feeding her young with her own blood. The pelican is the symbol of charity.

PENTAGON-Rarely found in heraldry, an emblem of health.

PHEON- A broad arrow head, symbolizes readiness to do battle.

PHOENIX- Known to all as the symbol of resurrection.

PILLOW- Emblematic of authority.

PLATE- A piece of silver, said to denote involvement in the Crusades.

POMEGRANATE- This seedy fruit is an ancient symbol of plenty.

PORTCULLIS- The armored gate with the chains and spikes is a symbol of protection.

PROBOSCIS- The elephant trunk is an emblem of nobility.

QUATREFOIL- The primrose, and early spring flower in Europe. The symbol of revived nature, and was adopted by the Church as a symbol of immortality.

QUIVER- A case filled with arrows, symbolizes military readiness.

RABBIT- Termed a coney, the emblem of courage and wisdom.

RAINBOW- A symbol of hope and prosperity.

RAM- The male sheep is an emblem of strength and perseverance.

RAVEN- The symbol of Divine Providence.

ROCK- Used often as a pun on the surname. It is an emblem of security.

ROSE- Denotes distinction. Also used to denote belonging to the House of York (white rose) or the House of Lancaster (red rose) The symbol of England.

SALAMANDER- Depicted in flames, an emblem of sacrifice.

SALMON- From ancient times in Ireland, the symbol of knowledge.

SAVAGE- A wild man, usually painted with a club, or indeed a tree, over his shoulder. A common symbol of strength and valor.

SCEPTRE- A royal staff, emblematic of authority.

SCIMITAR- The curved sword of the Saracens denotes one who took part in the Crusades.

SCYTHE- The emblem of husbandry, not death.

SEAX- A scimitar with a notch cut into it. The arms of the county of Essex, England.

SHAMROCK- Not widely used, the regular trefoil is more common, but is of course the symbol of the Christian trinity. And Ireland.

SHEAF- Termed a garb in heraldry, an emblem of peace and plenty.

SHELL- Worn on the sleeve as a symbol of pilgrimage.

SHIELD- Used as an emblem of defense. battle shield

SIREN- A mermaid, the emblem of eloquence.

SKELETON- The emblem of mortality. When depicted with a crown it is the symbol of Christian death.

SNAIL- Rarely encountered, the symbol of patience and reward.

SNAKE- A common heraldic charge, emblematic of wisdom.

SPEAR- In its many forms, symbolizes a knight in service.

SPUR- An emblem of readiness to do battle.

SQUIRREL- AN early symbol of patience and perseverance.

STAG- A very common heraldic animal, often shown “at gaze” An emblem of one who will fight if provoked.

STONE- A symbol of solidity.

SUN- Often depicted with a face and termed “in its splendor” it is the emblem of glory.

SWAN- The royal bird is the symbol of harmony.

SWORD- The age old emblem of honor in battle. sword coat-of-arms

TALBOT- A medieval type of hunting hound. Emblematic of leadership.

THISTLE- The heraldic badge of Scotland.

THUNDERBOLT- The emblem of Jupiter, sometimes termed Jupiter’s Thunderbolt.

TIGER, HERALDIC- A different beast to the Bengal variety, a symbol of courage.

TILTING SPEAR- A tournament lance, emblematic of a knight in service.

TOWER- The symbol of strength and protection.

TRIDENT- A three pronged fork, an emblem of solidity.

TUN- A barrel, emblematic of industry.

UNICORN-The head, neck, and body of a horse, the legs of a buck, and the tail of a lion all topped off with a twisted horn. A symbol of courage.

VINE LEAVES- A symbol of industry and plenty.

VULTURE- An uncommon emblem of rapacity.

WALL- A symbol of solidity, usually embattled.

WATER-BOUGET- A device used in ancient times to carry water to the camp. A symbol of military service.

WHALE- Emblematic of patience and understanding.

WHEAT- A symbol of plenty.

WHEEL- A symbol of industry, often used as a pun on the name. Used in the arms of Carter.

WING- Termed a Vol in heraldry it is an emblem of protection.

WYVERN- A cross between a dragon and a serpent and is a symbol of courage.

WOOL-PACK- An emblem of industry.

YEW TREE- An ancient English symbol of hope. tree of life

ZODIAC- An unusual emblem of the celestial sphere.


This is just a brief listing of some of the symbols found on coats of arms (family crests) and their meanings. Often we find a complete story unfolding on many arms, and at www.shieldandcrest.com we are prepared to take the time to explain it all to you, on our dime. If you have a question of any kind about a coat of arms (family crest) please feel free to e-mail us at shieldandcrest@gmail.com or call us Toll-Free 866-289-2798 during normal business hours. We take great pride in our knowledge of the symbols used in coats of arms (family crests) and will be happy to share that understanding with you.



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