The rich imagery of Autumn symbolism features on many coats of arms, and heraldic symbols often include animals and plants that we associate with Autumn, ‘the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’
Here are some of the more commonly-found symbolic images that you can often find on coats of arms.
The drinking ritual of ‘wassailing’ was enjoyed at this time of year in the south of England. This traditional ritual is to encourage a good crop of cider apples the following year. In heraldry, apples signify liberality, felicity, peace and salvation. Is there an apple on the coat of arms relating to your surname?
Fruits of all kinds were considered to be evidence of God’s kindness and a symbol of the goodness of providence.
Where the heraldic symbol of an acorn is depicted, it is traditionally used to indicate independence in its bearer; the acorn-sprig is not uncommon and although the acorn itself is usually vert (green), it can also be other colours.
The leaves of the oak tree are religious symbols of faith and endurance in heraldry. Is there an oak leaf in your family heraldry?
Often associated with oak trees are squirrels: Their habit of storing nuts to ensure a supply of food for the winter makes them symbols of thrift, caution and conception in heraldry. The heraldic symbol of the squirrel occurs in many English coats of arms and it is always depicted sejant (in a sitting position) and very frequently, cracking a nut!
Walking through the fallen leaves of autumn, you may be lucky enough to spot a hedgehog. In heraldic terms, we usually refer to it as an urcheon and you find it in a number of coats of arms. It is an ancient heraldry symbol and signifies a someone who is thoughtful to provide, although it is sometimes is mistakenly blazoned a porcupine.
Another image frequently associated with Autumn symbolism is the harvest moon. On coats of arms, the moon is a symbol of the goddess Diana and indicates, in its bearer, the serene power to endure mundane duties.
The moon is also a symbol of the Virgin Mary. It is said to have the sovereignty by night that the sun had by day.
Autumn weather can often be a mixed affair, with the sun’s rays shining through the rain to create beautiful rainbows. On a coat of arms the rainbow is an ancient heraldic sign of peace, sage travel, and good luck. It has similar connotations of luck and peacefulness in many other cultures too. The proper colours of a heraldic rainbow are gold, red, green and silver.
Stags, Hinds and antlers
Autumn is the time of year when stags are rutting, and you can often hear their deep, low bellow at night time in the countryside. The stag has a variety of symbolic meanings in heraldry. Additionally,it can indicate someone skilful in music and a lover of harmony.
It may also indicate a person who foresees opportunities well. In the latter case it is a symbol used for one who is unwilling to assail enemies rashly, who would rather stand his own ground that harm another wrongfully, and one who will not fight unless provoked.
On a coat of arms, antlers represent strength and fortitude. The stag or hart is also an emblem of purity and fleetness. The stag was associated with healing, for he knew which medicinal plants to take in order to shake off the hunter’s arrow. The person bearing this symbol was also considered impervious to weapons.
We associate Harmony, polity and peace with the female deer, called a hind or a doe. (Other names for a deer include a brocket, which is a young stag, a buck, roe, roebuck, and a fawn).
One of the most iconic symbols of Autumn symbolism is the wheat sheaf, the reason being that in heraldry signifies plenty and commendable hospitality in the bearer. Is there a wheat sheaf on the coat of arms relating to your family? If so, it may also mean that the harvest of the bearer’s hopes is secure.
Is there any autumn symbolism imagery on the coat of arms relating to your family name? Please do us know all about it and what you have discovered.
If you are interested in finding about other symbols in heraldry, visit our free dictionary here.
Find out the coat of arms and surname history for your own name here.