The three main devices (symbols) in the Lidderdale blazon are the chevron, border engrailed and eagle. The two main tinctures (colors) are ermine and azure.
Ermine is a very ancient pattern, and distinctive to observe. It was borne alone by John de Monfort, the Earl of Richmond and Duke of Brittany in the late 14th century 1A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P69 It has a long association with royalty and the nobility in general and hence represents “Dignity” wherever it is found 2The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P39. The ermine pattern is white with, typically, a three dots and a dart grouping representing the tail of the furred creature.3Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 28. The ermine spot is sometimes found alone as a special charge on the shield.
The bright, strong blue color in Heraldry is known in English as azure, and similarly in other European languages – azul in Spanish, azurro in Italian and azur in French. The word has its roots in the Arabic word lazura, also the source of the name of the precious stone lapis lazuli 4A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Azure. Despite this, those heralds who liked to associate colours with jewels chose instead to describe blue as Sapphire. According to Wade, the use of this colour symbolises “Loyalty and Truth” 5The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36.
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 6A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, (various), or additional cross-pieces used to strengthen the shield and painted a different colour.7The Pursuivant of Arms, J. R. Planche, Hardwicke, London 1859. It has also acquired the meaning of “Protection… granted… to one who has achieved some notable enterprise” 8The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P45, possibly becuase of its resemblance to the roof truss of a house.
The border, (sometimes bordure) is a band running around the edge of the shield, following the edge contours and being differently coloured, possibly holding a series of small charges placed on top of it 9A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Bordure. To distinguish it from similar arms, heraldic artists developed a series of decorative edges (obviously these are applied only to the inner edge). A common form of this patterning, engrailed is a series of scalloped indentations with the points facing outwards – and should not be confused with invected, which has the points facing inwards! Wade believes that both of these indented forms represent “earth or land”, and one perhaps can indeed see the furrowed earth embodied in them.
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 10A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Eagle. 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 11A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P235-238 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 12The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P72-74, 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!