Today we have gyronny, much loved by those who want to be Norse-inspired in their heraldry – Norse round shields have been found with similar radial divisions on them. Gyronny arrondi (or arrondy, depending on how you Anglicize it) is the wavy-edged version.
And then there’s the Society-specific “gyronny arrondi of three”, the mega-swirly pair in the bottom row. That’s actually a Germanic field division called, in German, “Schneckendreipass”. Literally translated, that’s something like “snail trefoil”. Calling it “gyronny arrondi of three” is the SCA College of Arms’ attempt at keeping all our blazoning English-only, which is a laudable goal, but leads to weirdness like this. Actual “gyronny arrondi of three” would look more like per pall with a wavy division line, I think. Thankfully the awesome folks on the Facebook Baby Heralds of the SCA group got me sorted out on schneckendreipass and other amusements!
Favourites in this batch? Gyronny of any sort is always striking, and Cerdic Weyfare’s “Gyronny arrondy of six gules and argent” is classically simple and, being only six divisions, maybe a bit easier to read than some of the other gyronny variants. I’m also always a sucker for the heraldic fur variants, so Adelheld von Katzenellenbogen’s “Gyronny erminois and pean” appeals.
If I do only the 165 Society devices (not the badges or real-world protected devices) there’s going to be eighteen or nineteen of these posts yet to come. I’m currently about seventy or eighty devices down the list so I’ll be staging these posts so I don’t run out of devices to show you.
We’re into the bendy, checky, and chevronelly this time, still going in alphabetical order by blazon. I’m genuinely surprised to see just the single checky device in this list, given what a striking (and easily reproduced!) pattern it is. I guess a lot of the checky armory in the Society is “checky plus things on top of it”.
Scaly shows up for the first time, as does the now-disallowed maily. Fesses, pales, and crosses formed of linked annulets (rings) have been found in historical armory, but an overall field treatment of mail rings was ruled out of order by the Society’s Laurel Sovereign of Arms at some point.
If any of these inspire you toward creating your own Society-legal device, it looks like there’s lots of design space around checky and chevronelly (regular or inverted) to explore!
My favourite of this set? Either Lancelot of Windhaven’s colourful “Chevronelly erminois and pean” (always a solid colour choice!) or Sybille la Chatte’s “Checky sable and ermine”. I would like to re-blazon Khalil ibn Abd’l-Wahid al-Katib’s “Bendy wavy argent and sable” at some point, as I don’t like how uneven the argent/sable divisions look in the current version. The sable wavy stripes should be slightly wider so the whole device is more evenly divided between argent and sable.
More soon, and as always, corrections and comments can be left below. Comments are moderated so they might not show up right away.
Here’s the second batch of what I’ve taken to calling the “Field Only Armoury Project”, which is basically a grandiose way of saying I intend to depict all of the field-only devices currently in the SCA’s Ordinary & Armorial. You can read a bit more about the details of this little personal project at the first post in this series.
Incidentally, if the ordering of these seems a bit random, it’s actually alphabetical by the blazon (description) of each device, so we started with “Argent, chapé ployé per pale gules and sable.” and will eventually end up with “Vert scaly Or” at the bottom of the list of 165 devices in my spreadsheet. The text below each device is SCA Name, Date of Approval, Kingdom of Approval, Blazon (Description), and finally any Notes filed in the O&A for that device.
We’re into the bendy (diagonal stripes) territory this time, with some really cool use of stacked field divisions in the devices of Alain of Littledale, Walraven van Nijmegen, and Pariselle Chouret. Lots of nice stripes!
As always, if you have comments, corrections, or tales to tell of the holders of these devices, please comment below!
The SCA’s Ordinary & Armorial is the Society’s catalog of every device, badge, or name ever registered, all the way back to the Year I A.S. (It’s currently A.S. 52). There’s a bunch of ways to search or browse the O&A, but the most powerful (and least user friendly!) is the Complex Search Form.
Thankfully, if you’re interesting in something relatively simple like “how many Field Only registries are there, total”, the CSF setup is quite simple – FO means Field Only. At this time there are 231 entries in that search result. 165 of those are devices, 39 are badges, and the final 27 are real-world devices, badges, or flags the College of Heralds have decided to protect as being “important real-world” items. This means you can’t, say, claim the arms of Cardinal Richelieu of France as your SCA arms, among other things.
As a way of getting better at reading heraldic blazons and re-creating (emblazoning) the designs, I’ve decided to work through at least the 165 devices in that Field Only list, and probably the badges as well. I’ll be publishing them here in blocks of nine.
Under each device, the block of text has the submitter’s SCA name, the date the device was approved by Laurel Sovereign of Arms, which Kingdom the submitter was in a the time, the blazon (text description of the design) and finally any notes associated – none of the devices in this batch have any notes, but we’ll see a scattering as we progress.
The date is important because some designs that were accepted in the past would no longer be accepted now; the rules have changed a number of times over the decades. This is not as much a problem with field primary armory like this as it might be with more exotic charges on more complex devices. The language used in the blazons has also changed slightly; some devices would be blazoned differently if they were recent; the old blazon isn’t wrong, just in some cases not as clear or as accurate as a recent blazon wouldd be.
In this group, right off the bat we have a couple of unusual field divisions, chapé ployé and chausse ployé. I have to confess I skipped those two in favour of a dozen or so simpler ones before coming back to them. Ulrich Krieger’s black and white device, top right, is our first real look at the glorious practice of stacking field divisions and counterchanging to get awesome and complex designs from relatively simple blazon descriptions – we’ll see a lot more of that as this project rolls on!
If I had to pick a favourite from this set it would have to be the counterchanged pean and erminois of Ulrich Krieger’s arms, although the classic blue and white jagged dancetty of Yaacov ben haRav Elieser’s device also appeals.
It also occurs to me that this might be the first time in many years or even decades that anyone has emblazoned some of these arms. Some of the holders of these arms might well no longer be with us. I sometimes look a challenging design up to double-check that my version matches another version, and some of these lovely designs do not appear anywhere else on the web that I can find. It’s an unexpectedly sobering thought in what started out as a purely self-absorbed little study project.
If you have comments or see a mistake in my emblazoning, please post below! If you find your own device or a friend’s among those I’ve emblazoned, please do comment, I’d love to see how (or if!) people are using their devices for heraldic display.