The three main devices (symbols) in the Leitch blazon are the escutcheon, serpent and bend. The two main tinctures (colors) are gules and or.
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.1The Siege of Carlaverock, N. Harris, Nichols & Son, London, 1828, P180. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” 2Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 313. Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron 3Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53, perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.4Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27. 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 5A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P85. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.6Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53.
The escutcheon simply represents smaller shield shapes included within the shield, and its close relative, the inescutcheon is just a larger version occupying most of the field. 7A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Escutcheon There is no particular significance that can accorded to the escutcheon itself, but attention should be paid to the colour and devices that are borne upon it. The escutcheon may also be added to an existing coat of arms either as recognition of some additional honour (an escutcheon of augmentation”) or in the case where arms that are already quartered are to be combined an escutcheon with the new arms may be placed overall (an ”escutcheon of pretence”). 8Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 126 & 141
In the mediaeval period there was no real percieved difference between real and mythical animals, after all, much of the world remained unknown and who was to say what strange and magical creatures existed in distant lands? As heraldry developed a whole menagerie of imagined creatures 9Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P164 came into being, and their various representations became more or less standardised in form and appearance. The serpent Is a typical example of a mythical creature, as real to a person of the middle ages as dogs, cats and elephants are to us today.
The bend is a distinctive part of the shield, frequently occuring and clearly visible from a distance – it is a broad band running from top left to bottom right 10Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 39-40. Indeed, so important is the bend that it was the subject of one of the earliest cases before the English Court of Chivalry; the famous case of 1390, Scrope vs Grosvenor had to decide which family were the rightful owners of Azure, a bend or (A blue shield, with yellow bend). 11A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P22. The bend is held in high honour and may signify “defence or protection” and often borne by those of high military rank 12The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P49.