“How deceived I have been … From your letters [of presentation] I understood you to be an ambassador, but all I got was a herald….” (Elizabeth I, responding to a young and importunate ambassador from the King of Poland who spoke out of turn and in inappropriate language, 1597)
I'm an Academic Herald. I'm not a "real" herald; I don't register people's coats of arms (though I can certainly suggest designs for those who might be interested). What I do is study, research, teach, and write about heraldry. And I like to share what I have learned about heraldry, hence this blog. I hope that you'll find it informative, interesting at least occasionally, and worth your time to come back. Got a question? Comments? Feel free to let me know. I'd love to hear from you. You can find my contact information in my Profile.
This is what happens when an heraldic artist has never seen anything more than a very rough description of an heraldic beast when painting ...
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Thursday, January 25, 2018
Royal and Burgh Arms at Rothesay Castle
The final day of our heraldic tour of western and central Scotland took us to the Isle of Bute, where our first stop was the (remains of) Rothesay Castle.
As you can see from the picture above, it isn't quite the edifice that it once was, and the seagulls of Scotland seem to have no more regard for castles than do the pigeons of, say, New York City or Florence, Italy, for the statuary in those metropolises.
Still, at one time it was a major fortress, and a key in the defense of western Scotland. And, of course, there was some heraldry.
The first that we saw was on an explanatory sign which touched on the history of the castle, and had a depiction of the Royal Arms of Scotland.
It's an unusual depiction of the arms, as the unicorn supporters have been reduced to but one, and that one lying underneath the arms, while instead of mantling there are two Scottish thistles issuing from the upper corners of the shield. An uncommon depiction, then, but with a bit of whimsy to it which I found refreshing.
The other explanatory sign had a discussion about the city which grew up around it the castle, the Royal Burgh of Rothesay, with another depiction of the Royal Arms of Scotland and of the Burgh.
The Royal Arms are on the left, and the arms of the Royal Burgh are on the right. (We will see more of these arms soon, in some of my pictures from the Bute Museum, directly across the street from the Castle.)
I am always somewhat gratified to see the use of heraldry on signs which are erected to give some context to visitors to a site, especially as most tourists have little knowledge of (or, to be honest, much interest in, our busload of heraldists notwithstanding) the heraldry related to that site.