Medieval Heraldry

For countless centuries people have used symbols of one kind or another to represent their beliefs and cultures but it was in the 12th century in England that the system we know as heraldry came into existence.

medieval heraldryHeraldry in medieval times was important for a number of reasons:
  • it enabled individuals to be clearly identified in their own right
  • it became a hereditary device enabling families to pass on their ‘coat of arms’
  • it helped to establish and symbolise an individual’s social standing
Animals were popular symbols in medieval heraldry – these included the lion and falcon as well as ‘fantasy’ animals such as the unicorn and griffin.

Read more about animals in heraldry courtesy of Cunnan here.

Used as a hereditary device, when people from two arms bearing families came together in marriage, a new coat of arms would be created for them incorporating elements from both families’ shield of arms. Subsequent generations could therefore track back their ancestral links by identifying common symbols.

Today of course most families do not have a coat of arms but our research reveals that many couples about to be married actively seek someone to create a coat of arms for their new family. Indeed, there are artists who offer just such a service - like Jennifer Hucklenbruch (Dip. Art & Design, MBA) who has a passion for heraldry as well as being a talented artist.

Read more about these custom hand-painted coats of arms:,
they make great medieval style wedding gifts.