saltire raguly

The saltire, whilst frequently associated with Scotland is actually a widely used and popular ordinary found throughout all of British Heraldry, perhaps because of its cross-like form Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 42. In order to allow for clear differences between similar arms, heralds designed a series of decorative edges, not all of them are appropriate for the saltire (because of the interior angles) but those are suitable can be very effective artistically. Of the decorative edges raguly can be at first hard to identify, but once we understand that it arises from an old word raggguled meaning “chopped off”. A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Raguly we can see that the curious shapes are intended to represent boughs lopped off a tree trunk. (This is also the origin of the term “ragged staff” see so frequently with a bear in Heraldry). Wade suggests that the use of this decoration represents “difficulties that have been encountered” The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P41, and we can perhaps understand that the “hacked path” resulting shows that these difficulties have been overcome.