For the pale in Arms, representeth a post of Timber, set upright, such as be commonly used, to under prop the earth from falling upon the miners’ heads.

– From Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586), p84

The origins of all of the ordinaries are unclear, but the theory Ferne cites above is a fairly common one about the pale. Unfortunately, it’s likely that we will never be able to know for sure.

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Heralds know, that the proper ensign of Poetry, is the swan: the bird of Phoebus, and consecrated to the Muses: which doth signify nothing, but that purity and cleanness of life, which is required in a sacred poet.

– From The Blazon of Gentrie by Sir John Ferne (1586), p57

Heralds know, that the proper ensign of Poetry, is the swan: the bird of Phoebus, and consecrated to the Muses: which doth signify nothing, but that purity and cleanness of life, which is required in a sacred poet.

From The Blazon of Gentrie by Sir John Ferne (1586), p57

Of the Billet and Delf, of an exact and an oblong square, the allusion seems to have been to intrenchments, the billets may be fascines*, and the delf a sod of earth.

*Bundles of brushwood

– From Inquiries into the Origin and Progress of the Science of Heraldry in England by James Dallaway, p459 (1793)

Miscellaneous heraldic charges

From Inquiries into the Origin and Process of the Science of Heraldry in England by James Dallaway, p454

Left to right, top to bottom (click on the name for more examples of each):

The maunch, an often-stylized representation of a lady’s sleeve, which were often given as favors at tournaments.

The fer-de-moline, or mill-rind, a small piece of iron which supported the millstone.

The goblet. Those shown here are covered, though that is not always the case.

The clarion, or rest. It is not at all clear what this figure is supposed to represent. The older heraldic writers, beginning with Guillim, called it a clarion, or part of a pipe organ. However, it is more commonly called a rest, though whether it is a spear-rest or an organ-rest is not clear.

Military objects used as heraldic charges

 From Inquiries into the Origin and Process of the Science of Heraldry in England by James Dallaway, p454

Left to right (click on the names for more examples of each charge):

The escarbuncle. While its origin is not certain, it is believed to have been a way of reinforcing wooden shields. It is probably best known as the badge of Henry II of England, taken from the ancient arms of the French region of Anjou.

The helmet, while most often seen as a component of complete achievements, does occasionally appear by itself as a charge.

The pheon was an ancient dart head. Although its shape and function are similar to the arrowhead, the pheon is barbed.

Heraldic charges taken from nature

From Inquiries into the Origin and Process of the Science of Heraldry in England by James Dallaway, p454

Left to right (click on the names of each for more examples):

The escallop, or scallop shell.

The fleur-de-lis, national symbol of France. There is some controversy over whether or not this is a stylized representation of a lily flower, with some writers contending that it is intended to be a spearhead, but most authorities agree with the former option.

The rose, possibly most famous for its historical significance in the English Wars of the Roses. It was, however, the badge of both houses (white for York; red for Lancaster), not a charge in their arms. Also, while roses can be seeded, slipped, and leaved proper, their main color must always be specified.

The cinquefoil. Originally, it was probably some sort of plant or flower with five leaves/petals, but it has become stylized into a conventional heraldic charge. Here it is shown pierced; that is not always the case.