The four main devices (symbols) in the Hornby blazon are the buglehorn, eagle’s leg, chevron and fleur-de-lis. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, sable and argent .
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”1. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 2. 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).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.
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) 7. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 8.
The hunting horn, or bugle horn has a distinctive shape, being curved almost into a semi-circle, it can be decorated with bands of a different colour and typically hangs from a string, also coloured. 9. Apart from its obvious reference to the pursuit of hunting, it has also been used in allusion to the name of the holderr (HUNTER of Hunterston) and Woowward suggests it is also associated with those who have rights or obligations to the forest. 10
Where the lion is undisputed king of the animals, the eagle undoubtedly plays the same role in the realm of the birds, its use in this form dating back to at least the Roman period 11. They tend to be illustrated in quite some detail, especially in continental European arms, and have almost as wide variety of postures and accessories as the lion, well illustrated in the reference 12 as well as being just the eagle’s head or eagle’s leg. The symbology of the eagle is deep and complex, Wade devotes several pages to the subject 13, but suffice it say that it has long been associated with Empire and those held in high honour – any armiger would be pleased to have any form of Eagle upon their arms!
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.