The three main devices (symbols) in the Dering blazon are the roebuck’s head, trefoil and saltire. The three main tinctures (colors) are or, sable and gules .
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.1. 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 2. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.3.
Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur 4. In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known 5. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 6.
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”7. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 8. Although it may look like a French word it is normally pronounced with a hard “g” and may be derived either from the Latin gula (throat) or Arabic gule (rose).9
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. 10 If there is any symbology intended it is probably that of enjoyment of the hunt, deer in all its form being a popular prey. 11
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
The saltire is one the major ordinaries, large charges that occupy the whole of the field 15. Arguably one of the best uses of this device is that of the St. Andrews Cross, a white saltire on a blue background found on the Scottish flag. The saltire is obviously closely related to the Cross, and Wade in his work on Heraldic Symbology suggests additionally that it alludes to “Resolution”, whilst Guillim, an even more ancient writer, somewhat fancifully argues that it is awarded to those who have succesfully scaled the walls of towns! 16