The three main devices (symbols) in the Colvin blazon are the cross moline, trefoil and hind’s head. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, azure and or .
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.
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” 4. 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 5.
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.6. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa 7. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.8.
No other symbol appearing in heraldry is subject to as much variation as the cross 9. Mediaeval Europe was a deeply religious and Christian and many of the nobility wanted to show their devotion by adopting the symbol of the cross as part of the arms. Since no two arms could be identical there arose many variants of the cross, typically involving patterning along the edges 10, or fanciful, decorative endings to the arms of the cross 11. The cross moline is typical of these whereby each arm of the cross expands and curves outwards, reminscent of the fer-de-moline from which it gets its name. These cross variations are probably largely for decorative effect, and to differentiate the arms from similar ones and hence their significance is that of the Christian cross itself.
Natural objects abound in heraldry, and one category that gives especial delight are the many flowers and flowering plants that frequently occur 12. The trefoil may originally been a representation of a specific plant (perhaps shamrock) but it has been used as a symbol almost since the beginning of heraldry and over time has adopted a stylised aspect. 13. Guillim believes that it signifies “perpetuity…the just man shall never wither”. 14
Many different forms of the deer, hart, roe-buck and other appear in rolls of arms, though often of similar appearance. The precise choice of animal possibly being a reference to the family name. 15 If there is any symbology intended it is probably that of enjoyment of the hunt, deer in all its form being a popular prey. 16