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Scots Heraldry - The Heraldry Society of Scotland

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Some Distinctive Characteristics of Scots Arms - By Alex Maxwell Findlater

 

So what are the characteristics of Scots arms? Firstly the use of the lion rampant in many ancient coats. The ruddy lion ramping in his golden field is well known as the coat of the King of Scots, but we must also note this lion rampant as the principal, often only charge, in the ancient earldoms of Fife and March (Dunbar), also in Duff, Moncrieff, Home, Dundas, Gray, MacDowall, Buchanan, Wemyss, Moubray, Spens, Wallace, Abernethy, Crichton, Lyon, Lamont, Scrymgeour, and in Maitland, where he is dismembered, in Ross, where he is triplicated and in many of the Celtic coats, where the lion occupies the first quarter of a shield composed of four indivisible quarters.

Fife
Wemyss
Abernethy
Cirichton

Lamont

Maitland
Ross
 

The national flag of Scotland is Azure a saltire Argent.  This flag doubtless became popular during the crusades, which both internationalized heraldry and speeded up the adoption of arms by knights.  The colours of the St Andrew’s flag settled as silver on blue in the seventeenth century, but it was probably the basis of many arms which use a saltire as the principle charge, eg Maxwell, Lennox (from which derive Napier), Haig, Colquhoun and Dalrymple.

 

Maxwell

Lenox

Napier

Colquhoun

 

Haig

Dalrymple

 
 

The most famous family and one of the widest spread is Stewart. The arms of Stewart, Or a fesse chequy Argent and Azure, have been mirrored in those of a number of other famous families, including Boyd, Azure a fesse chequy Argent and Gules, and Lindsay, Gules a fesse chequy Argent and Azure. Also derived from Stewart is Menteith, Or, a bend chequy Argent and Sable. Menteith is in fact an offshoot of the Stewart earls of Menteith.

Stewart

Boyd

Lindsay

Menteith

 

Another curiosity is the number of arms composed of black and white, one of the simplest, but one of the most eye-catching combinations. This group includes Erskine, Cunningham, Maxwell, Sinclair, Armstrong, Balfour, Colville, Colquhoun and Haldane. Campbell was also anciently blazoned Argent and Sable. It has been suggested by Beryl Platt, in her books Scottish Hazard, that this combination might imply an origin in the province of Alost in Flanders, the colours of Alost being black and white.

 
Erskine
Cunningham
Maxwell
Armstrong
Auchinleck
Balfour
Colville
Colquhoun

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© The Heraldry Society of Scotland   last Update 05 Jun 2017