Arms of Bad Niedernau, Germany

Bad Niedernau

In use in 1972

Blazon: Sable a chevron on, in base water argent

The chevron is evidently from the arms of the Ehingen family, who built a castle in the region in 1280 (and presumably owned the land – although the Zollerns may have disagreed with that). I assume the water is a canting element, referring to the Bad (“bath”) in the town’s name and also to its mineral springs, long believed to have healing properties.

Arms of Maeloc Crwm


From Encyclopedia of Heraldry by John Burke and John Bernard Burke (1844)

“Lord of Llechwedd-Isaff and Creuddyn, in Carnarvon. Ar. on a chev. sa. three angels or.”

I cannot find any mention of the name “Maeloc Crwm” outside of the context of the “noble tribes” or the arms depicted above, so I’m even more skeptical than usual that this is a real person. Apparently Sir Thomas Chaloner, a politician and poet in the mid-sixteenth century, claimed descent from a “Maeloc Crwm.” It doesn’t appear Chaloner used arms resembling these, but many modern “genealogy” sites are happy to cite these as the Chaloner arms. (Someday, I should write up a full rant about those sites, but long story short – if they are based off last name only and want you to pay for any products with “your” coat of arms, they are very unlikely to be credible.)

Arms of Collwyn ap Tangno


From Encyclopedia of Heraldry by John Burke and John Bernard Burke (1844)

“Lord of Efionydel, Founder of the V. Noble Tribe. Sa. a chev. betw. three fleurs-de-lis ar.”

Again, the evidence for an actual historical Collwyn ap Tangno is thin on the ground. Some sources have him as founding the fifth noble tribe, as here; some say it’s the fourth. Some have his base of power as Caernarvonshire, while others cite Harlech Castle specifically. (The latter seems unlikely, as construction on Harlech Castle only began in 1282, and if Collwyn actually existed, most sources place his lifespan in the early 1000s.) I don’t have the slightest idea where “Efionydel” may be, but given the Burkes’ … loose handling of Welsh, it could actually be spelled completely differently. The Vaughan family of Trawsgoed, who eventually produced the justice Sir John Vaughan, apparently claims descent from Collwyn. Unfortunately, I cannot find any specifics of their arms other than that they apparently featured at least one boy’s head. I quite like the clean layout and striking colors of the arms described here by the Burkes; it’s a pity they’re probably spurious.

Arms of Öschingen, Germany


In use since at least 2010

Blazon: Per pale gules a chevron argent and of the last a lion rampant sable, armed and langued of the first

The dexter half of the arms seems to come from the von Fürst family, who were prominent local citizens from the late thirteenth century through at least the mid-sixteenth century. I’m tempted to speculate that this might be the source of some similar arms in the region (so far, Nehren and Nellingsheim seem like viable candidates), but admittedly, I don’t have any solid proof of this. I am, however, pretty confident in saying that the sinister half are the arms of the von Stöffeln family, who were the first recorded owners of the land. Argent a lion rampant sable is attested for them in several sources; the gules detailing may be unique to the town.

Arms of Llywarch ap Brân

ap Bran

From Encyclopedia of Heraldry by John Burke and John Bernard Burke (1844)

“Founder of the II. Noble Tribe. Ar. betw. three crows, with ermine* in their bills, a chev. Sable.”

There is even less evidence for Llywarch’s existence than for Hwfa’s; except for one very elaborate family tree with not nearly enough sources, there’s really not much out there. I don’t even have a place to connect to him. He does appear on a couple lists of the Fifteen Tribes, but given their questionable provenance, I’m not sure how far to trust those lists. I’m erring on the side of “not at all.”

*It’s also probably worth saying that I’m genuinely unsure if these crows are supposed to be bearing ermine, as in the small weasely animal, or ermine spots. I don’t trust the Burkes’ blazon that much, and the depiction doesn’t really help.

Arms of Awfa ap Cynddellw


From Encyclopedia of Heraldry by John Burke and John Bernard Burke (1844)

“Founder of the I. Noble Tribe. Gu. betw. Three lioncels ramp. A chev. Or.”

Unfortunately, there is not much reliable information in re. the existence of an actual person with this name. Most of what does exist cites the Burkes as the initial source, which is Not Helpful. The name does show up in several lists of “fifteen noble tribes” from the fifteenth century and earlier, but independent historical confirmation is hard to come by. (I’ve talked previously about the tenuous historical basis for the “noble tribes” anyway). These arms are shared by Anglesey, but it does seem like the attribution of the lioncels and chevron to a Hwfa or Awfa ap Cynddellw came before the county started using the arms.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Unlike other saints I’ve covered here, like Saint Nicholas and the three balls or Saint Andrew and the saltire, Saint Valentine doesn’t appear to have any heraldic motifs associated with him (though there’s plenty of fun stuff if you dig into his legend – he’s also the patron saint of beekeepers and protects against fainting). Instead, I’ve picked a few coats of arms featuring that most Valentine’s of motifs – the heart. Fortunately for the squeamish among us, heraldic hearts are typically of the more stylized and less anatomically correct variety, but exceptions do exist.


The best-known heraldic heart (that I’m familiar with) is from Clan Douglas of Scotland. They bear argent a heart gules imperially crowned or, on a chief azure three molets of five points of the field. Supposedly, one of their ancestors, Sir James Douglas died taking Robert the Bruce’s heart on a crusade to the Holy Land – hence the arms.


For a real example of massively self-evident canting arms, look no further than Clan Lockhart. As you might guess from the name, they bear argent a heart gules within a fetterlock sable, on a chief azure three boars’ heads couped of the field. The story goes that Sir Symon Locard accompanied Sir James Douglas and the heart of Robert the Bruce on crusade. He was responsible for carrying the key to the heart’s casket, and apparently ensured it got back to Scotland. I’m skeptical of the accuracy of the story, given how easily these arms could have been derived directly from the name, but it’s a nice legend.


Clement Attlee, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 – 1951 (1883 – 1967) bore azure on a chevron between three hearts or winged argent, as many lioncels rampant sable. Attlee seems to have been the first armiger in his family when he was created Earl Attlee and a Knight of the Garter. The winged hearts were apparently drawn from his boarding school, Haileybury.

While I can’t find a good depiction of the arms of Henry Wingham (? – 1262), he bore gules a heart winged or, probably in reference to his name. Wingham served as Lord Chancellor from 1255 to 1260, and Bishop of London from 1259 through 1262.

Arms of Nellingsheim, Germany


In use ? – 1971

Blazon: Gules a chevron, on a chief argent a scythe blade fesswise of the field

Sadly, Nellingsheim doesn’t have any information about the arms themselves, but it’s been around for quite some time – it was first mentioned in 1111. Apparently, the von Ows owned the village for a time, starting in 1319, but it changed hands fairly frequently after that. (There’s not much overlap between the arms of the von Ows and the town, so that’s a dead end there.) However, the description of the town as retaining some of its rural or rustic characteristics might hint at a reason behind the choice of the scythe.

Arms of Neustetten, Germany


Arms of Neustetten, Germany

In use since 1971

Blazon: Gules a chevron argent between three molets of six points, on a chief or an oath staff (Schwurstab) fesswise sable  

Okay, I really like these arms, and not just because they feature a charge I’ve never seen before. The three townships of Nellingsheim, Remmingsheim, and Wolfenhausen were consolidated into the municipality of Neustetten in 1971, and it’s clear that whoever designed the new town’s arms took care to pay homage to its component parts, and also create something visually appealing. I appreciate that kind of thoughtfulness in heraldic design. The Neustetten website also has a nice section on each former township and its arms, so although I don’t usually feature former municipalities, I’m going to make an exception over the next few weeks. Long story short – the chevron comes from Nellingsheim, the chief from Wolfenhausen, and the molets from Remmingsheim (although the number reflects the three former townships). Both the latter towns’ arms featured the Schwurstab, and the tinctures are also relatively consistent.

So… what the hell is a Schwurstab? The literal translation, which I’ve used in the blazon, is “oath staff.” From what I can find, it’s a pretty descriptive name – they seem to have been specially carved staves used in legal proceedings for witnesses to swear on. It seems like they served the same function as a Bible or other sacred text, only more secular.

Arms of Nehren, Germany


Granted 1909

Blazon: Gules a chevron argent

It looks like the town of Nehren adopted the arms of the von Nehrens, a noble family who ruled in the area from at least 1305 through 1441. The arms allegedly originated with a Lescher family, but I can’t find any solid evidence for that. (I’ve found plenty of records of Leschers, but none with an associated blazon or depiction of arms.) Nehren’s website does feature a lovely depiction of their arms in begonias; one of the advantages of simpler arms.