Shields or Escutcheons
Return to Heraldry
Shields, or escutcheons, and how they’re used in heraldry is a vast topic. This will only touch the surface.
An escutcheon is the central part of the coat of arms. Sometimes people call it a crest, but the crest in heraldry is the symbol above the helmet. Various shields have also become heraldic symbols.
The term ‘escutcheon’ represents a family and its honor. A family member who has done something to bring shame on the family is often called a blot on the escutcheon.
The outline shape is rarely of any significance, but there are several styles of outline
Escutcheon Outline Shapes
Image courtesy Wikipedia
1. Old French
2. Modern French
3. Oval or Cartouche ~ non-combatant clergy
4. Lozenge ~ usually for women who didn’t go to war or non-combatant clergy
A escutcheon can also be a boucle design.
Image courtesy Charles Boutell
The surface is called the field. The divisions refer to the pattern on the field. Some Divisions and Ordinaries share the same shape and name.
Shapes Found on Escutcheons & Their Meanings
| Name || Description ||Symbolic Meaning|
|Bend||a column from top corner to opposite bottom corner||a knight’s scarf, defense|
|Bordure||a border around the edge, wood used on bridges||honor, used to differentiate between family members|
|Canton||a small square in an upper corner||a flag added to the arms, may contain a charge granted by a Sovereign |
|Chevron||like the roof of a house, an inverted “V” shape||protection, faithful service|
| Chief || a bar across the top|| Dominion, authority, wisdom, achievement in battle|
|Cross||top to bottom and left to right||Christian or Crusader|
|Fess||a center column, left to right, like a military belt||honor|
| Pale||a center column top to bottom||military strength|
|Pile||a “V” shape on the front, wood used on bridges||construction, building|
|Saltire||an “X” shaped cross going corner to corner||St. Andrew’s Cross, resolution|
Leave Shields and
Return to Scottish Wedding Dreams Home Page