The four main devices (symbols) in the Broadbent blazon are the fesse wavy, per pale, staff and pheon. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, ermine and azure .
The bold red colour on a heraldic shield is known as gules. It has a long history within heraldry, it is known that one of those who besieged the scottish castle of Carlaverock in 1300 was the French knight Euremions de la Brette who had as his arms a simple red shield.1. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” 2. Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron 3, perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.
Ermine is a very ancient pattern, and distinctive to observe. It was borne alone by John de Monfort, the Earl of Richmond and Duke of Brittany in the late 14th century 4 It has a long association with royalty and the nobility in general and hence represents “Dignity” wherever it is found 5. The ermine pattern is white with, typically, a three dots and a dart grouping representing the tail of the furred creature.6. The ermine spot is sometimes found alone as a special charge on the shield.
Azure is the heraldic colour blue, usually quite a deep, dark shade of the colour (there is a lighter blue that sometimes occurs, known as celestial azure). If colour printing is not available then it can be represented by closely spaced horizontal lines in a scheme known as “hatching” 7. The word is thought to originate from the Arabic lazura and it represents the colour of the eastern sky. It is also said to be the colour associated by the Catholic Church with the Virgin Mary and hence of particular significance 8.
The fesse is a broad horizontal band across the centre of the shield, in very ancient times it was said to occupy one third of the area height of the shield 9, however it soon became somewhat narrower. This created an opportunity to add decorative edging to the band, of many forms, and to very pleasing artisitic effect, at least close up – it must be admitted that at distance some of the forms are hard to distinguish! The decorative edge pattern Wavy, sometimes written as undy is, for obvious reasons, associated with both water and the sea 10. Indeed, a roundel with alternating bars of azure and argent (blue and white) is known by the shorthand term fountain, representing water at the bottom of a well 11. Other colours have also been used and the result can be very pleasing to the eye.
The background of the shield can be divided into two potrtions in a variety of ways, and each portion treated differently. In the heraldry of continental Europe there is a tendency to use these areas to combine two different designs, but in British and Scottish heraldry the preference is to treat the divided field as a single decorative element with other features placed as normal. Whatever tradition is followed, one of the most common divisions is per pale, a simple separation along a vertical line. Wade assigns no particular meaning to the use of this division, but suggests that they simply arose from the multi-coloured garments typically worn at the time of the birth of heraldry. 12
The staff raguly or ragged staff frequently occurs in heraldry and is intended to show a rough-hewn branch for use as a walking aid or club, and sometimes appear in flame at the top. 13 Famously, a ragged staff appears with a bear in the arms associated with the family and county of Warwick in England. 14Other uses of the staff, such as pilgrim’s staff must be described as such, otherwise the ragged staff will probably be assumed.