The three main devices (symbols) in the Rigdon blazon are the pile, cross crosslet fitchee and cock’s head. The two main tinctures (colors) are azure and or.
Azure is the heraldic colour blue, usually quite a deep, dark shade of the colour (there is a lighter blue that sometimes occurs, known as celestial azure). If colour printing is not available then it can be represented by closely spaced horizontal lines in a scheme known as “hatching” 1Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26. The word is thought to originate from the Arabic lazura and it represents the colour of the eastern sky. It is also said to be the colour associated by the Catholic Church with the Virgin Mary and hence of particular significance 2The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P150.
Or is the heraldic metal Gold, often shown as a bold, bright yellow colour. It is said to show “Generosity and elevation of the mind” 3The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35. Later heralds, of a more poetic nature liked to refer to it as Topaz, after the gemstone, and, for obvious reasons associated it with the Sun 4Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53. In drawings without colour it is usually represented by many small dots, or by the letter ‘O’ 5A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P76-77.
The pile was originally quite a simple shape, being a triangle reaching from the top of the shield down to a point near the lower centre 6A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Pile. A clear example being that of CHANDOS awarded in 1337, Or a pile gules. There is some argument as to the origin, Wade suggests some similarity with the meaning of “pile” in construction (a foundation) and hence that the shape could be adopted by those who have demonstrated some ability in the building trade 7The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P48. An earlier writer, Guillim, perhaps more plausibly suggested that the shape echoes those of a pennant or triangular flag 8A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P52 The shape is quite distinctive however and became popular, leading to many embellishments to distinguish it from its close fellows, with multiple piles meeting at various points, starting from various edges and with additional decoration, leading to potentially quite complex descriptions!
No other symbol appearing in heraldry is subject to as much variation as the cross 9Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 47. Mediaeval Europe was a deeply religious and Christian and many of the nobility wanted to show their devotion by adopting the symbol of the cross as part of the arms. Since no two arms could be identical there arose many variants of the cross. The cross crosslet is one of these, having an additional cross bar on each arm. 10A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Cross Crosslet Wade suggests that these additional crossing signify “the fourfold mystery of the Cross”. 11The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P103 The final addition fitchee simply means pointed, and indicates that the lower end is pointed, as if it is to be struck into the ground. 12A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Fitché
The cock, and other members of its avian family are often found in coats of arms, although telling them apart simply from their images can sometimes be a challenge! Many times the precise choice of species arises as a play on words on the family name, sometimes now lost in history. 13A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Cock The cock itself, Wade points out is a “bird of great courage” and might be used as a symbol of “watchfullness”, being the herald of the dawn. 14The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P80