The four main devices (symbols) in the Elliott blazon are the castle, pellet, elephant and trefoil. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, or and azure .
Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”1. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries 2. Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone.3.
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.4. 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 5. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.6.
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.
Architectural items, from individual components to entire buildings 9 feature frequently as charges In a coat of arms. Not surprisingly, considering the times from which many arms date, fortifications are common. The castle is perhaps second only to the tower in this usage, and often described in some detail as to its construction, the disposition of windows and so on. 10 Continental examples also sometimes include attackers on scaling ladders. Wade tells us that the appearance of a castle indicates “granduer and solidity” and one can understand why. 11
For easy recognition of the items on a coat of arms, and hence the quick identification of the owner, bold simple shapes are best. Hence, simple geometric shapes are often used for this purpose 12 One of the simplest such shapes is the plain circle, known to heralds as the roundle. 13 So popular is this charge that a shorthand has arisen for roundles of a particular colour and pellet is a roundle sable, or black. It is also known as an ogress or gunstone. Most authorities agree that the English usage signifies the “Manchet cake” or communion wafer and thus is a symbol of religious allegiance.
The Elephant is not common on shields, although it occurs sometimes as a supporter of the shield and its trunk or proboscide is very frequently to be found in crests. 14 In meaning, it tends to adopt its more common usage and is said to represent someone who is both “sagacious and courageous”. 15