The three main devices (symbols) in the Hardcastle blazon are the castle, leopard’s face and chevron. The three main tinctures (colors) are sable, argent and gules .
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.
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.
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.6. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” 7. Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron 8, perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.
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
The leopard’s face (sometimes, incorrectly referred to as a leopard’s head occurs very frequently in heraldry 12. Early heraldic artists tended to treat lions and leopards as the same animal, but during the development of British Heraldry the heads of the two creatures have adopted separate, and more realistic forms. Wade would have us associate leopards with warriors, especially those who overcome ”hazardous things by force and courage” 13
The chevron is one the major shapes used upon a shield, known as ordinaries. The inverted ‘V’ of the chevron is perhaps thought to have originated to represent a military scarf folded on the shield 14, or additional cross-pieces used to strengthen the shield and painted a different colour.15. It has also acquired the meaning of “Protection… granted… to one who has achieved some notable enterprise” 16, possibly becuase of its resemblance to the roof truss of a house.