Elements of a coat of arms
The combination of some or all of these elements makes up what is known as an achievement of arms:
- The basis of all coats of arms.
- At their simplest, arms consist of a shield with a plain field on which appears a geometrical shape or object.
- The items appearing on the shield are known as charges.
- The crest was a later development arising from the love of pageantry.
- Initially the crest consisted of charges painted onto a ridge on top of the helmet.
- Later crests were three-dimensional objects, made from wickerwork, boiled leather or other materials.
- It was rare for universities to have arms which included a crest, although it has become more common.
- The motto was originally a war cry, but later mottoes often expressed some worthy sentiment.
- These are human or animal figures standing on either side of the shield and support it.
- Possibly originated as "filler" work on the part of seal engravers, now generally restricted to the most senior grades of orders of chivalry, the peerage, and to corporate bodies.