SYMBOLISM OF HERALDIC ELEMENTS (A, B, C) or...

What does it mean if your coat of arms bears a red boar's head?

Please note that the following descriptions and meanings are gleaned from a variety of sources, some of which disagree on those meanings. The most commonly accepted meanings are given, but scholars vary in the their opinions concerning the reliability of any "commonly held" historic meanings for coats of arms and crests.

For examples of the different positions for heraldic animals,
see our "Sample Lions In Heraldry" page.

     
Acacia Branch or Leaves Acacia Eternal and affectionate remembrance
Acanthus Leaves Acanthus Admiration of the arts
Acorn AcornAcorn 1 Antiquity and strength.

Agricultural Tools

(See also Scythe and Sickle)

agricultural tools Labouring in the earth and depending upon providence
Alisaunder (Similar to Laurel)   Peace and/or triumph.
Allerion (Mythical creature, similar to an eagle, but without beak or claws) Allerion Strength of will and authority of mind
Anchor Anchor Hope; religious steadfastness
Angelica Angelica Inspiration
Angels (See Sample Angels) Dignity, glory, and honour; missionary; bearer of joyful news
Annulet
(finger ring)
annuletAnnulets Fidelity; commitment
Ant 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 ) antelope heraldicAntelope Rampant Harmony, political cunning, peace
Antlers Antlers Strength and fortitude
Anvil AnvilAnvil 2 Honour; emblem of the smith's trade
Apple/ Apple Tree AppleApple Tree Liberality, felicity, and peace; Perpetual concordance
Arm (or Hand) in Armour or Embowed arm with swordarm in armour A person with qualities of leadership
Arm, Naked Arms EntwinedArm Hand Open An industrious person
Arrow or Dart Arrow Readiness (for battle); if depicted with a cross, represents an affliction
Aspen Leaves Aspen Leaf Determination; overcoming fears and doubts
Ass Ass HeadAss Patience and humility

Axe

(Also Halbert, Halberd, Hatchet)

axeHalberd
Execution of military duty
Azalea Azalea Temperance, passion
Baby's Breath Baby's Breath Purity of heart, innocence, breath of the Holy Spirit
Baguette (gem ring) Gem Ring Fidelity
Banderole banderole2 See Banners
Banner (See banderole) Refer to special action in which bearer was captured, or a reward for valiant service
Bar, Barry, Barrulet Bar "One who sets the bar of conscience, religion, and honour against angry passions and evil temptations" acc. to Guillim
Barry Wavy Barry Wavy Troubles keep us in continuous exercise and reminders of providence (as waves in a storm at sea)
Bat

Bat

Bat New

Bat Slim

Awareness of the powers of darkness and chaos.
Baton Baton Token of authority
Battle Axe (See Axe) Execution of military duty
Bay Leaves Bay Leaves Poet or victor's laurel
Beacon (Also Lantern or Lighthouse) beacon
One who is watchful, who gave the signal in time of danger
Bear

Bear Rampant 1Bear RampantBear Passant

Bear Head FacingBear Walking

Bear PolarBear StatantBear Rampant

Strength, cunning, ferocity in the protection of one's kindred
Beaver BeaverBeaver Passant Industry and perseverance
Bee BeeBee 1 Efficient industry
Beech Beech Tolerance, knowledge of history
Bell Bell TowerBell 1 Power to disperse evil spirits; a hawk's bells denotes one who was not afraid of signalling his approach in peace or war

Bell Tower (or Clock Tower)

Bell Towers Integrity
Bend/Bendy
bend
Scarf or shield suspender of a knight commander; signifies defense or protection
Berries   Liberality, felicity, and peace
Bezant/Byzantine Coin
(Also Besant; Gold Roundle)
BezantBezant Face Worthy of trust of treasure.
Billet/Billettee Billet Bricks or letters (correspondence); one who obtained credence, knowledge, and faith in his words and deeds; one who is secret in one's affairs.
Birch Birch New beginnings; vision quest
Bird of Paradise Bird of Paradise Freedom
Birdbolt (See Arrow) Small arrow with blunt head.
Bishop's Mitre MitreMitreMitre 2 Authority
Black-Eyed Susan Black-Eyed Susan Encouragement
Blasted Blasted Tree Tree without leaves, withered
Bluebonnet Bluebonnet Grace, forgiveness, mercy
Boar Boar passantBoar Rampant Bravery; fights to the death
Boar's Head Boar's Head Couped Hospitality
Bonacon (See Bull) Bull with horse's tail and short mane.
Bomb (Mortar Piece) Bomb One who has dared the terror of such a weapon in battle
Bones (Crossed Thighbones) Bones Crossed Mortality
Book (See Sample Books and Bibles) If open, manifestation; if closed, counsel
Border Border Difference between relatives bearing the same arms; also an augmentation of an honour
Bourdon (See Pilgrim's Staff or Palmer's Stave) Pilgrim's Stave See pilgrim's or palmer's staff -- knob at upper end, point at bottom, hook near top
Bow Bow Readiness (for battle)
Bow and Arrow Bow and Arrow War, power, ability to hit a target
Braced braced Interlaced
Bracket bracket May be single or double; right angle-shaped support, as in a shelf support
Bridge Bridge Governor or magistrate
Broom Plant Broom PlantBroom Plant New Humility; Ardor
Buck (See Stag) Buck Proper One who will not fight unless provoked; peace and harmony
Buckle BuckleBuckle 2 Victorious fidelity in authority
Buglass (purple quatrefoil) Buglass Hope and joy.
Bull/Buffalo Bull RampantBull PassantBull Supp NewBull New Valour, bravery, generosity
Bull's Head Bull's Head Valour, bravery, generosity
Bull's Horns   Strength and fortitude
Butterfly Butterfly Psyche or Soul
Cactus Flower Cactus Bravery and endurance
Cadences (Marks of Cadency) See Marks of Cadency Used to differentiate the heirs in a family.
Caduceus Caduceus Homeopathic medicine; medical profession; balance and the union of opposing forces
Calla Lily Calla Lily Magnificent beauty; purity and chastity

Caltrap (or Caltrop)

A weapon made up of two or more sharp nails or spines arranged in such a manner that one of them always points upward from a stable base.

Caltrap

 

Considered the landmines of antiquity, useful to slow down the advance of the enemy army and to force the enemy into certain paths and approaches, or to provide a passive defense as part of a defensive works system. They were said to be particularly effective against the soft feet of camels.
Camel CamelCamel HeadCamel One Hump Docility, patience, and perseverance
Cannon & Cannon Balls Cannon One who has dared the terror of such a weapon in battle
Candle/Lamp Candle 2Candle Light, life, and spirituality
Canton 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 Cap of Maintenance 2 Granted to British peers and Scottish feudal barons (see "Chapeau")
Carnation Carnation Admiration; fascination, impulsiveness, capriciousness, joy, devotion
Carpenter's Square Carpenter's Square Conforming one's actions to the laws of right and equity
Castle (Tower/Chateau) Castle One TowerCastle OpenEnglish CastleCastle German/SwissCastle Open DoorCastle WallCastle 2CastleCastle 4Castle 5Castle 8Castle Arched WindowsCastle Door Open 1Castle New Safety; protection
Cat (Also Wildcat or Lynx) Cat a MountainCat SejantCat IsisCatCat Supporter
Liberty, vigilance, forecast, and courage
Cattails (Bulrushes) Cattails Peace and prosperity
Catherine Wheel Catherine Wheel One prepared to undergo great trials for the Christian faith
Centaur Centaur 1Centaur Eminence in the field of battle
Cerberus Cerberus Guardian; Past, present, and future
Chains 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
Chamomile Chamomile Energy; action
Chapeau (See also "cap of maintenance") Cap of Maintenance Granted to British peers and Scottish feudal barons
Chaplet (Floral) Chaplet Usually with green leaves and four roses: the crown of joy and admiration
Chequy Chequy Constancy
Cherry Blossom Cherry Blossom Wealth and prosperity; Education; Feminine principle and love; Transcience of life
Cherubs & Cherubim
(See Sample Angels) Dignity, glory, and honour; missionary; bearer of joyful news
Chess Rook Chess RookChess Rook 2 Strategic thinking
Chevron Chevron Protection; Builders or others who have accomplished some work of faithful service
Chief 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
Chimera (as described in the Iliad) Chimera Impossible or difficult to believe
Chough (Cornish Crow) Chough Strategist in battle; watchful for friends
Chrysanthemum Chrysanthemum Abundance, cheerfulness, optimism, truth, hope, rest, friendship
Church
(See Sample Churches) Religion; faith; community
Cinquefoils CinquefoilCinquefoil 2 Hope and joy
Civic Wreath (of oak leaves and acorns) Civic Wreath One who saved a fellow citizen's life or shown patriotism in defense of one's native land
Clarion Clarion Ready for war
Claw of a Bird   Note the preyer that has been preyed upon

Clock Tower

(See Bell Tower) Integrity
Clouds Clouds Mystery, obscured truth
Cock (male bird) Cock Reguardant Courage and perseverance; hero; able man in politics
Cockatrice
(small serpent)
Cockatrice Wings DisplayedCockatrice Terror to all beholders
Column ColumnSerpent Column Fortitude and constancy; with serpent coiled around it, wisdom with fortitude
Comet Comet Unknown
Community Community SymbolCommunity SymbolCommunity SymbolCommunity Symbol Friendship, cooperation, community
Compass Compass 2Compass More Direction
Compony or Gobony Compony Constancy
Cornish Chough (crow, raven; See "chough")   Strategist in battle; watchful for friends; divine providence
Cornucopia (horn of plenty) Cornucopia The bounty of nature's gifts
Cottice/Cotice (bendlet) Cottised Scarf or shield suspender of a knight commander; signifies defense or protection
Coupeaux Coupeaux (Hills - usually three) Unknown; may be purely an artistic device
Crane (Stork) CraneCrane 2 Close parental bond; Vigilance if holding a rock
Cramp Cramp  
Crescent 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 Crosier The shepherd's watchfulness; Christian faith; pastoral authority; also Episcopal jurisdiction and authority
Cross
(See Examples of Crosses) 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 (See Bones)   Mortality
Crow (See also "Chough")   Strategist in battle; watchful for friends; divine providence
Crown or Coronet
(See Examples of Crowns) Royal or seigniorial authority; prestige
Crown (Mural) (See Examples of Crowns) Defender of a fortress, token of civic honour; one who first mounted the breach in the walls of a fortress
Crown (Naval) (See Examples of Crowns) One who first boarded an enemy's ship; distinguished naval commander
Crown of thorns (See Examples of Crowns) Adversity
Cup (often covered) Cup 2Cup Covered New Office of the king's butler
Cushions Cushion Authority
Cygnet (young swan) Cygnet (Young Swan) Where gorged with a crown around its neck, signifies dignity
Cypress Cypress Death and eternal life thereafter
     
     

 

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