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The Makeup of a Clan Coat of Arms – Scotcrest Blog

A Traditional Clan Coat of Arms

A labeled clan plaque

One of the most detailed and unique products we offer is our Woodcarver Coat of Arms Plaque. Unlike a clan crest, a heraldic coat of arms can differ when representing an individual family within a clan.  Therefore, some clan coats of arms can be hard to understand with a plethora of different characteristics and devices on show. To make it easier, we’ve created a little diagram and key to help!

Clan Name – The clan name of the individual the coat of arms is representing. It is located on an escrol below the shield.

Clan Motto – The clan motto of the individual the coat of arms is representing. It is located on an escrol above the clan crest.

Clan Tartan – The traditional tartan associated with the clan of the individual the plaque is representing – each clan will have its own specific tartan. On our coat of arms plaques, the tartan sits behind the coat of arms on a wooden shield.

Clan Crest – A portrayal of any object genuine or fictitious which represents the clan. As with all other heraldic objects, it will almost always face to the left unless otherwise stated.

Helmet – Taking its place between the shield and the clan crest is the helmet of the coat of arms. Usually, the design of the helmet is determined by rank. The helmet will always face to the left unless there are multiple, if this is the case, they face inwards. The time period from which the helmet originates may vary. However, it should always match the period that the coat of arms’ shield is from. The helmet is usually the same size as the shield as this would have been the case in a traditional set of medieval armour.

Mantling – Originally a simple decorative piece of fabric worn from the helmet, the mantling has evolved into a more elaborate piece of the clan crest over the years. Despite often being taken to ridiculous extremes, it offers a good way for the artist to fill blank areas of the design.

Shield – Often acting as the most prominent feature of the design, it is the shield that is usually used for identification when looking at a coat of arms. The shield does not need to be a specific shape and is therefore usually designed to fit the other aspects depicted. It is usually positioned either upright or at an angle as if it is suspended from a strap. While there are some ancient families who simply have a shield devoid of any symbols,  the majority of coats of arms will have some sort of device on the front.

Wooden Shield – The backing on which our woodcarver coat of arms plaques sits.

Click here to view our Woodcarver Coat of Arms Plaque!