The four main devices (symbols) in the Drywood blazon are the oak tree, lion, Cornish chough and wings. The two main tinctures (colors) are sable and or.
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 1. 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 2. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 3.
Or is the heraldic metal Gold, often shown as a bold, bright yellow colour. It is said to show “Generosity and elevation of the mind” 4. Later heralds, of a more poetic nature liked to refer to it as Topaz, after the gemstone, and, for obvious reasons associated it with the Sun 5. In drawings without colour it is usually represented by many small dots, or by the letter ‘O’ 6.
Amongst the natural objects depicted on a coat of arms, trees feature frequently, either in whole or as individual branches and leaves. 7. Although sometimes described simply as a tree most often the specific species was named, and the oak tree or oak leaf is a typical example that frequently is depicted in arms, sometimes fructed with acorns of a different colour. 8 For good reason, Wade assigns the meaning of “antiquity and strength” to this symbol. 9
The art of heraldry would be significantly poorer if we were without the lion in all its forms. Most general works on Heraldry devote at least one chapter solely to this magnificent creature and its multifarious depictions 10 11 12. Some of the earliest known examples of heraldry, dating right back to the knighting of Geoffrey of Anjou in 1127, where he is shown with six such beasts upon his shield 13 .The great authority on heraldic symbology, Wade, points out the high place that the lion holds in heraldry, “as the emblem of deathless courage” 14, a sentiment echoed equally today.
Birds of great variety occur throughout heraldry, at least in name 15. The Cornish Chough is a member of the crow family and is often depicted as black with red or orange beak and legs. 16 Wade gives it the role of “king of crows” and believes that its use denotes a “man of stratagems”. 17