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The badger is an animal noted for his fierceness and courage in fighting to defend his home. The symbol of the badger represents bravery, perseverance, and protection. It is more typically found in the armor of England than that of other nations.



Pledge of fidelity and faithfulness.



The bagwyn is an imaginary animal with a head drawn like a heraldic antelope, the body and tail of a horse, and the horns long and curved backwards. It is thought to symbolize one who displays fierceness and bravery in the defense of king and country.

balance, scales


Balances have traditionally been a symbol of fairness and justice. They were adopted as a symbol by the Company of Bakers in London and are still used today as a symbol of an unbiased court system.



The banner is a square flag painted or embroidered with arms. The size is proportioned to the rank of the bearer. It is a symbol of victory and self-assertion. Banners on the shield or as a crest often refer to a special military action where a flag, or possibly the bearer, was captured, or as an indication of gallant service. As a charge, the banner is usually hung from the walls of a castle or carried by some type of animal.


Banners are sometimes mistakenly referred to as flags or standards. The principle difference between a banner and a flag, standard, pennon, etc., is that a banner is always square and the others are elongated.



A barnacle, or a pair of barnacles, may represent one who was a farrier. It has also been suggested that it may also represent one who was able to extract confessions from the enemy.



Barrels, casks or tuns, were commonly used to hold beer and wine. It possibly symbolizes that the original bearer was a vendor of beer or wine, or an innkeeper. It occurs in the insignia of the Brewers' and Vintners' Companies, as well as the arms of a few companies.


It is often used as a pun on names ending in "ton," for example the crest of Hopton depicts a lion hopping on a tun.



A bar is the diminutive of a fesse, which is a wide horizontal stripe in the center of a shield. A narrow, horizontal bar across a shield is said to be an appropriate device for one "who sets the bars of conscience, religion, and honor against angry passions and evil temptations."


The diminutive of the bar is the barrulet, which is almost always shown in a pair of two. They are placed close together, referred to as 'one bar gemel'. Bars gemel were awarded for acts of particular bravery in times of war.



An instrument of war. Represents one who has used it in war, or one who has experienced the terror of such a weapon in war.



The bat was an intimidating symbol used to inspire fear in enemies. It is said to be sable (black) in color, displayed with wings open and facing the observer. It is sometimes referred to by the old name rere-mouse. Quoted from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream: "Some war with rere-mice for their leathern wings."



A token of authority.

battering ram

Battering Ram

The battering ram is an ancient war machine that symbolizes determination, especially in war. The charge of a battering ram may have also been granted to someone who was greatly skilled in its use, or who was in charge of it during wartime. It does not resemble a real battering ram. Instead, it consists of a ram's head on the end of a log, with ropes encircling it and hooks attached to them, presumably to hold it up.

battle axe

Battle Axe

The battle axe symbolizes authority and the execution of military duty. It also symbolizes a warlike quality in its bearer. The battle axe first began to be used as a symbol as a result of the Crusades. Though other axes are used in heraldry, the battle axe is distinct because of its design: the blade is mounted on the shaft and penetrates through it to the other side. See also AXE.

bay leaf

Bay Leaf

Peace and/or triumph. Also known as the Poet's or Victor's Laurel. See also LAUREL.



The beacon was an alarm signal placed on high hills, church towers, or city gates. On crests, it is drawn as an elevated basket overflowing with flames. It was the watchman's duty to fire it if he saw that the next nearest beacon had been fired, or if the enemy was approaching. Thus, the beacon signifies one who is watchful, or who gives the signal in times of danger. It may also be that the bearer was in charge of the warning beacons.



The bear is the emblem of strength, cunning, and ferocity in the protection of kindred. A bear is also a symbol of healing and personal health and bravery. The bear is usually muzzled, but not always. Sometimes only the paws of a bear are used as a symbol.



The beaver denotes industry, perseverance, and determination.



The bee is a sign of industry, creativity, wealth, diligence, and eloquence. The Egyptians used it as a symbol of royal power. In armory, it is used to represent well-governed industry. The bee is the most popular insect found in heraldry and is usually shown with the beehive.



Bells signify the power of church-bells to disperse evil spirits in the air and their summoning of guardian saints and angels. A hawk's bell denotes one who was not afraid to signal his approach in either peace or war. A Canterbury bell is a sign of pilgrimage.



The bend is a broad diagonal band across the shield representing either a scarf worn like a sash or the shield suspender worn by a knight or military commander. Some claim it represents a scaling ladder. It has often been granted to those who have distinguished themselves as knights. The bend signifies defense or protection, and is a bearing of high honor.


The bend sinister (extending from upper right to lower left) was once occasionally used as a mark of illegitimacy, though it is uncommon.



Represent liberality, felicity, and peace.



The bezant was the coin of Byzantium (Constantinople). It is represented by a gold roundel (a plain gold circle). It is thought that the bezant was introduced into armory at the time of the Crusades. It represents justice and equal dealing among people. The sign of the bezant is borne by those deemed worthy of trust and treasure.



The billet represents a letter folded for transmission. It has the form of a brick-shaped rectangle and it occurs more frequently with many small billets on the field. It is thought to indicate one whose words and deeds were deemed trustworthy. It has also been suggested that lawyers and men of letters often adopted the sign of the billet.



Birds of all tinctures (blackbirds, bluebirds, red birds) represent the peace and affection of home and family.



Represented by a dark-skinned head. It is often used as a crest. The Blackamoor indicates one who fought in the Crusades with deeds of prowess - or "took the head" of many of the enemy. See also MOOR.



The boar is the symbol of bravery. A champion among wild beasts, it encounters enemies with nobility and courage, and, thus, has come to signify the traits of bravery and perseverance. The boar is a fierce combatant when at bay and ceases fighting only with its life. Therefore it was given only to those considered fierce warriors.


In Ireland the boar is one of the most popular charges. The meat of the boar was considered to be food of the Celtic Gods. The symbol of the boar was worn in battle as a charm against injury.

boar's head

Boar's Head

Represents hospitality, or one who is hospitable.



If open, the book signifies manifestation. If it is closed, it signifies counsel. Books are also considered a symbol of learning. The Bible is frequently mentioned as the book represented in the crest or arms, though it would not appear any differently than a regular book.



Represents strength, stability and expedition.



The bordure is, as it sounds, a fairly wide border around the outside of a shield. It is usually a mark of cadency, signifying a younger son or brother. It also symbolizes an augmentation of an honor.


Except in England, a wavy border is a mark of illegitimacy. In Scotland the bordure compony (border with 16 pieces) serves the same purpose. These were not considered to be marks of dishonor. It was carried over from the days when it was necessary to distinguish the rightful heirs from others who might have some claim to the family title and fortune. In some instances it was borne when a natural son had succeeded by bequest to the estates of his father.



A water-bouget is a bag made from the skin of a goat or sheep that was used for carrying water on military expeditions. Thus it is a symbol for one who carried water to an army or to a besieged place.



Represents readiness for battle.

bow and arrow

Bow and Arrow

When displayed together, they represent war, power, and accuracy in hitting the target.



Represents a governor or magistrate.

broom plant

Broom Plant

The broom plant is a symbol of humility. A sprig of this shrub was chosen as the badge of the royal house of Plantagenet, who are said to have derived their surname from the circumstance of one of their ancestors having worn a branch of broom is his helmet, either by way of penance, or in token of humility.



Indicates one who is skillful but will not fight unless seriously provoked. Once fighting becomes necessary, the buck is said to down its enemy. It is also a symbol of peace and harmony - an individual who is politic and a lover of harmony. In Ireland the buck or stag was one of the most ancient charges and was regarded as the most handsome. It also represents the very ancestors of the Celtic race. See also STAG



Though their appearance is quite different, the function and symbolic meaning of a water- bouget and a bucket are similar. The charge of a bucket was conferred on those who had supplied water to an army or a besieged place. The bucket is merely the more modern way of transporting water. The common well bucket is usually the type born in arms, but they can also be hooped or have feet.



The buckle signifies self-defense and protection, as well as victorious fidelity in authority. Buckles may be square, round, or rectangular in shape.


Bugle Horn

Represents readiness and a summons to battle. May indicate one whose job it was to alert the army that battle was about to begin.



A bull, also referred to as an ox, in a coat of arms, on a crest or a shield, represents valor and magnanimity, bravery and generosity. The horns represent strength and fortitude. The calf is an ancient heraldic symbol traditionally associated with the characteristics of patience, submissiveness and self-sacrifice.

bull's head

Bull's Head

Bulls' heads are perhaps more commonly found than the animal itself. Generally the horns are blazoned of a different tincture. Represents valor, bravery, and generosity.