Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why Heraldry?

In a recent (April 18, 2010) post on his blog, Roger Derham’s Windsong (, blogger, gynecologist and forensic examiner Roger Derham talked about his design for a coat of arms (well, okay, he actually designed a complete achievement of arms, but let’s not pick too many nits here) for CASATS, the Children and Adolescents Sexual Assault Treatment Service in Galway, Ireland, where he lives and works. Taking everything into consideration, I think it’s not that bad a design, and certainly the charges and overall arrangement are well in keeping with the traditions of Irish heraldry. (I’d debate him about some of the choices of tinctures: or does not show up that well against an argent field; and the or bordure on the inescutcheon is impossible to see even in the largest image I was able to find, leaving me having to take his word for it that it’s there.) But he gives his rationale for each element in the design, and it seems to me that he did a good job of putting it all together in a meaningful fashion.
But what struck me the most is his take on why use heraldry? He said:

From the cartouches of ancient Egypt to the shields of medieval knights I have always been fascinated by the construct, seeming permanence and visual history of these physical marks of identification, of remembrance of people long dead.
“Construct,” “seeming permanence” and “visual history,” “identification” and “remembrance.” Exactly! Those are precisely some of the reasons why I have had, and continue to have, a deep-seated interest in heraldry. But he’s said it so much better, and more concisely, than I have. My hat is off to you, sir!

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