The four main devices (symbols) in the Gladstone blazon are the savage’s head, blood drop, martlet and orle. The two main tinctures (colors) are gules and argent.
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.
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 4. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5.
Heraldry is a human art, by and for people and it is not surprising that people themselves are frequently depicted in arms 6. As well as the nobility themselves, we also see both the mundane, ploughmen, fishermen and reapers; and the exotic in the form of club wielding savagesand the Moorish or Saracen gentleman with his decorative wreathed turban 7.
The gutte or goutte is an elongated tear-drop shape with wavy sides and usually appears in large number spread evenly across the field. 8 Some frequently do they occur that special names have arisen for the various colours, guttee de sang being gules (or red) for its obvious resemblence to split blood.
The martlett is by far the most common bird to appear in British Heraldry, perhaps only equalled by the eagle, however it is not a species ever to be found in an ornithologists handbook! The word itself is though to have come from the French word merlette, the female blackbird and itself a similar type of charge used in French Heraldry. 9. Over time the image has become quite stylised, without visible legs or distinctive feathers. Wade suggests that this representation arises from “the appearance of the bird of paradise to ancient travellers” 10. Other bird species may be named in coats of arms (cornish chough is a frequent example) but in actual execution their appearance is often indistinguishable from the martlet.