Heraldry & Genealogy -
Nowadays, more than ever, there is a desire a virtual
need to find our links with the past,
and we Celts are
no different from anyone else in this regard. But
there are issues and pitfalls in this search.
A few notes about heraldry, which mostly originated in the Middle Ages of
The Scots are some of the most strict in controlling ownership and display
of heraldic paraphernalia. For example,
of late, the fad for showing the
Lion Rampant flag
(red lion facing left on a gold flag) has been quashed, as this
particular design - once the insignia of King Robert the Bruce of
"Braveheart" fame - has been adopted as a
standard reserved for the Royal Family of Great Britain, and displayed
only during their presence in Scotland,
or the presence of one of their royal officials, the Lord Lyon for
instance. As such it is no longer "Scottish"
but represents the Crown - an often touchy subject, especially in
Did you know that there is a separate "King" of Heraldry in Scotland,
appointed by the English crown to oversee
the proper ownership and display of heraldic ornament? The
Lord Lyon, King of Arms, has his
own court and staff
to research heraldry and genealogy, determine
appropriate inheritance of titles and create uniform practice.
The Lord Lyon also verifies and records new tartan (cloth) patterns for
the weavers use.
The Lord Lyon still retains the legal right to confiscate objects and/or
levy fines on offenders,
but this is seldom done nowadays.
A lot of sources will
get you "your" Coat of Arms, but beware, only the one individual who heads
a noble family
actually "owns" the shield and other items typically seen. And there may
be more than one set within various
branches of the same family. There is good news for Scots: you can wear a
part of a Clan's or noble family's
Coat of Arms, surrounded with a belt, if you are in some way related,
historically or genetically,
to the great family who owns it.
We, Weirs have developed a tie with Clan MacNaughton,
through marriage and can show that relationship
by wearing items allowed members of Clan MacNaughton - an embattled castle
circled by a belt
with the motto "I hope in God" or the war-cry "Fraoch Eilean".
Sir Malcolm Macnaghten of Macnaghten,
Bart., Chief of the Clan MacNaughton
has the right to possess and wear or display the various other items of
his Clan and family heraldry.
This "correct" display of heraldry is taken much less
seriously in Ireland and Wales, for example, and any
number of persons can be seen with framed Coats of Arms, and all sorts of
jewellery replete with those
elements, without fear of censure. But remember, you are not the single
person for whom the design was made.
We can supply virtually any form of
Clan Crest heraldic items, and we can send you a printed copy
of the Coat of Arms which applies to your family name spelling, but
remember you are on your own
about issues of ownership and proper display.