Shields and coast of arms were off covered in shapes, symbols, and pictures. Here’s a selection and their meaning.
The use of lions dates back to the beginning of heraldry. The king was believed to be the king of the beasts and therefore one of the favourite symbols to use. It is awarded the most number of ‘attitudes’ or body positions in the heraldic range. It also represented ferocity, strength and bravery and they were often golden.
‘Parts of the Body’
Parts of the body were used to symbolise particular strength. The Heart was used and represented stories of valour in some cases, and arms and legs were the most common. Arms and what they held could often show a family trade such as farriers.
The eagle was the queen of birds and represented and from early times represented empires and had holy connotations having been associated with the Roam Emperors, especially the black eagle. The Pelican was often seen shedding its own blood to feed its young, a symbol of self-sacrifice and often connected to religious arms. The swift Martlet was picture in flight and was meant to symbolise ‘trust to the wings of virtue and merit’.
This recognisable symbol was famously used in red for the house of Lancaster and white for the house of York during the war of the Rose in Medieval England. It was considered royal but also an emblem of secrecy, of goodness and sweet-smelling as well as softness, yet surrounded by evil and danger represented by the thorns.
‘The Fleur de Lis’
Otherwise known as a heraldic Lily this old symbol has long been associated with the royal French Family and was then used by the English as a way of claiming the French kingdom. It has appeared in a number of forms and interestingly one legend states that it started out life as three frogs back to back.
The Dragon was believed to have a scaly body, wings, to breathe fire and live in deep dark caves. They were the deadliest serpents and people loved to be thrilled by such unknown beasts and Dragons were the most dramatic.
This mystical beast was considered too pure to place upon shields and arms before the sixteenth century when it started to appear in Europe when these beliefs were forgotten. The unicorn represented magical purity.
Castles and towers appeared on shields from the beginning of heraldry and represented power and strength. But as economy grew across the world populations, cities or towns would use other structure to symbolise wealth and trade, such as mills, mines and spas.
Showing a fleet of ships on your coat of arms was an obvious nod to a military power.
If you've tried our free activity sheets then your kids might enjoy our Knight paper dolls. They're great fun!
They are good to keep the kids focused and are also excellent at parties especially knight themed ones!
Print them out, cut out the Sir David the Knight and the armour, then dress him ready for combat.