The four main devices (symbols) in the Prestwood blazon are the cinquefoil, chevron, flaunch and lion rampant. The three main tinctures (colors) are sable, or 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.
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.4. 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 5. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.6.
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”7. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 8. 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).9
Natural objects abound in heraldry, and one category that gives especial delight are the many flowers and flowering plants that frequently occur 10. The cinquefoil is also of this type, being drawn, at least a little, realistically and often to very pleasing effect. It is shown as five-petalled flower, each petal quite rounded but with a distinct tip. It is sometimes pierced with a hole in the centre and usually appears on its own, without any leaves. 11 It has no fixed colour but can appear in any of the available heraldic tinctures.
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 12, or additional cross-pieces used to strengthen the shield and painted a different colour.13. It has also acquired the meaning of “Protection… granted… to one who has achieved some notable enterprise” 14, possibly becuase of its resemblance to the roof truss of a house.
There are a number of major, simple and easily recognisable shapes and big patterns that are known as ordinaries. 15 The flaunch (or more properly flaunches as they are always in pairs) is a interesting example of the type, being a shape curving inwards from edge vertical edge, each reaching about one third of the distance across. 16 Wade’s researchs into the symbology of heraldry leads him to conclude that they represent a “reward given for virtue and learning”. 17