Heraldic Express > Heraldry - a guide to your Coat of Arms > Describing a Coat of Arms

Describing a Coat of Arms

A Coat of Arms is made up of several components.


The scroll is used to display the surname on which the Coat of Arms is based.

The crest was mounted on the helmet and was an essential part of the insignia in most countries, though rare in France, Spain and Italy.

This was simply to keep the mantle in place. Some Coats of Arms show a wreath instead of a crown, although this has no special significance.

Worn by the knight for protection during battles.

This was worn over the knights helmet and served two main functions: firstly, the colours formed part of the overall identity as depicted in the Coat of Arms, and secondly, it helped to keep the metal armour cool in hot weather.
Coat of Arms

This was displayed on the shield, surcoat and banner of the knight. Each Coat of Arms was protected by law and was borne with legitimate pride.

Many families had a family motto which may have been recorded as part of the arms.