The two main devices (symbols) in the Aldmen blazon are the bar humettee and martlet. The two main tinctures (colors) are argent and gules.
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 1. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 2.
Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”3. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries 4. Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone.5.
The bar is a thin, horizontal stripe across the centre of the shield, usually in groups of two or three (any more and there would be confusion with barry, a treatment of horizontal lines of alternating colours). Humettee is a word of uncertain origin that means couped or cut. It is applied to so-called ordinaries, the large features that typically extend across the whole of the field, but their description as humettee means that, whilst still occupying the bulk of the space, they are cut short before reaching the edge 6. Thus the bar humettee is one of small number of horizontal bars ending just short of either edge. Richard II of England granted an example of these in the arms of John de DABRICHECOURT, being Ermine, on 3 bars humetty 9 escallops or 3,3,3.
The martlett is by far the most common bird to appear in British Heraldry, perhaps only equalled by the eagle, however it is not a species ever to be found in an ornithologists handbook! The word itself is though to have come from the French word merlette, the female blackbird and itself a similar type of charge used in French Heraldry. 7. Over time the image has become quite stylised, without visible legs or distinctive feathers. Wade suggests that this representation arises from “the appearance of the bird of paradise to ancient travellers” 8. Other bird species may be named in coats of arms (cornish chough is a frequent example) but in actual execution their appearance is often indistinguishable from the martlet.