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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The latin “pilum,”* has been very erronously applied to the Pile, to which it bears no resemblance, for it was a large beam or wedge used in temporary bridges, and certainly not a military weapon.

– From Inquiries into the Origin and Progress of the Science of Heraldry in England by James Dallaway, p457-8 (1793)

*Javelin

None of the ordinaries have so uncertain an origin as the Chevron, which is so called from its expansion like the roof of a house, to which etymology Legh inclines when speaking of a person who bore three chevronels, ‘the ancestors of this coat hath built three great houses in one province.’

-From Inquiries into the Origin and Progress of the Science of Heraldry in England by James Dallaway, p457 (1793)

Of the pale the idea was suggested by the wooden inclosures of parks and warrens, and Hugh Lord of Hinkley, high steward to King Henry 1st was the first bearer of it.

-From Inquiries into the Origin and Progress of the Science of Heraldry in England by James Dallaway, p457 (1793)

From the Latin “fascia” or fillet in architecture is derived LA FESSE, it was a military girdle, the loss of which was deemed highly disgraceful.

From Inquiries into the Origin and Progress of the Science of Heraldry in England by James Dallaway, p456 (1793)

The bend, from the Italian “la benda” signifies a band or bandage… but in its present acceptation, it is drawn diagonally across the field, resembling a sash or ribband worn over the armour.

— From Inquiries into the Origin and Progress of the Science of Heraldry in England by James Dallaway, p456 (1793)

Then it was that the cross, the emblem of their profession, relapsed from its pristine form into almost indescribable varieties.

-From Inquiries into the Origin and Process of the Science of Heraldry in England by James Dalloway, p45