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HADDOCK: In Scotland the haddock is considered to be a very lucky fish. It is thought that the faith in the attributes of the haddock, are as a result of the belief that this is the very fish that was chosen to feed many people. Black spots can be seen around the gills, which were said to indicate the places were Christ held the fish as He distributed them to the people as told in the parable of the 'Feeding of the Five Thousand'; signifies good fortune and bountifulness.

HALBERT (pole-axe): A weapon of the 15th and 16th centuries having an axe-like blade and a steel spike mounted on the end of a long shaft. See Axe for symbolism.

HAMMER (marteau): The hammer signifies that the gate will not yield without opposing resistance, as if it needed the repeated metal stroke, equal to the insistent in order to force the Gates of Justice and Charity. It is a symbol of honour and is also a symbol of the smith's trade.

HARP: Henry VIII was the first to assume the harp as the Irish device, and James I. to place it in the third quarter of the royal achievement of Great Britain. Denotes a well-composed person of tempered judgment; contemplation; mystical bridge between heaven and earth. The harp has been used as a political symbol of Ireland for centuries. Its origin is from the time of Brian Boru, a famous 'High King' of the whole island of Ireland who played the harp.

HARPY: A mythical beast with the face and breasts of a virgin, the body, wings and talons of a vulture. In this mythology they are known as 'snatchers' and although found mostly in German heraldry, it will also be found used in other countries. The German name for it is 'Jungfraunadler' and the symbol is notoriously present in the shield of the Rietbergs, Princes of Ost-Friesland. In heraldry it is said they signify one ferocious when provoked. In Greek mythology the Harpy was an implement of vengeance and also symbolized justice. Originally created to signify the horror and fury of the storm, the Harpy has been delivered to us always as a symbol of sudden death and is to some, a symbol of the feminine principle. According to Greek legend there was actually three Harpies, Aello, Ocypete, and Celaeno. They were the children of the sea god Thaumas and the gods used them as their tools of justice to keep their faithful obedient. Should one go against the will of the gods, the Harpies would be dispatched, fly over the offender, attack and violate them, tear them apart and then eat them.

HARROW (Herse): Used in husbandry (agriculture, farming). A farm implement consisting of a heavy frame with sharp teeth or upright disks used to break up and even off ploughed ground; to inflict great distress or torment on.


HAWK: See Falcon.

HAWTHORN: The hawthorn has been regarded as the emblem of hope, and the ancient Greeks used its branches in wedding processions, to help ward off evil. The supposition that the tree was the source of Jesus's crown is often referenced but much contested. In Celtic lore, the hawthorn was once said to heal the broken heart. A ‘Clootie’ well or spring are places of pilgrimage, having a hawthorn tree growing beside them, and where strips of cloth tied to the branches were part of a Celtic healing ritual. In Gaelic folklore, hawthorn trees mark the entrance to the otherworld.

HAZEL (tree): In Celtic tradition, the Salmon of Knowledge is said to eat the 9 nuts of poetic wisdom dropped into its sacred pool from the hazel tree growing beside it. Each nut eaten by the salmon becomes a spot on its skin. The Hazel tree provided shade, protection and baskets; may signify knowledge, wisdom and poetic inspiration.

HAWK'S LURE: A decoy used in falconry, consisting of two wings joined with a line, to the end of which is attached the ring. Usually denotes one who is fond of the highest pursuits, such as hunting and falconry. See Falcon.

HEAD: (Saxons, Saracens, Turks, Moors, Blackamoors, Savages, Maidens, Infants etc.). A human head stands for honour, there are many variations; a Saracen's head represents a Bedouin tribe from Sinai, the term was more generally applied to Arabs and Muslims during the Crusades and may denote one who fought in the Crusades against this tribe. A Saxon on the other hand was a member of a West Germanic tribal group that inhabited northern Germany and invaded Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries A.D. with the Angles and Jutes, and the head may symbolize some great battle against them. In the Middle Ages, the Europeans called all Mahometans (Muslims) Moors, in the same manner as the eastern nations called all inhabitants of Europe Franks.

HEART: A symbol of charity. See "Flaming Heart"

HEDGEHOG: It collects its stores for the winter with its prickles and is symbolic of a provident provider. In ancient Egypt, hedgehog amulets were worn to ward off snakebite. If approached by a snake, a hedgehog will bristle and roll up, fending off the reptile's striking fangs with its longer spines. When the snake is fatigued or wounded, the hedgehog attacks, biting along the backbone toward the head until the snake is dead. So it is said....

HELMET (helm): Resting on the chief of the shield, and bearing the crest; indicates rank: Gold, with six bars, or with the visor raised (in full face) for royalty. Steel, with gold bars, varying in number (in profile) for a nobleman; Steel, without bars, and with visor open for a knight or baronet; Steel, with visor closed (in profile), for a squire or gentleman.

HEN HARRIERS: Also known as Marsh Hawks, these raptors fly low to the ground and have often been used to represent one who is inconspicuous yet methodical in his purpose.

HERON: A symbol of contemplation, vigilance, divine wisdom, and inner quietness. Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, employed a Heron as one of her divine messengers; symbol of righteousness; Herons are images of the eternal struggle of good against evil.

HERRING: Seems to be found borne principally on shields of families with phonetically similar names. An ancient fable does though state that if the first herring picked out were female the nets would be full for the rest of the year, with good health and financial security ensured for the families of the fishermen; hospitality and abundance. Eating a herring in three mouthfuls including the bones with salt was once believed to induce visions of the future.

HIGHLANDERS: Were from a mountainous region in Northern Scotland. Famous for its rugged beauty, it consists roughly of that part of Scotland north of the imaginary line from Dumbarton to Stonehaven, excluding the Orkneys, the Shetlands, and lower coastal areas. The Scottish Highlanders were regiments of the British army, originally recruited in the Highlands of Scotland; among them are the First Battalion Royal Highlanders, founded in 1729, commonly called the Black Watch, and the Gordon Highlanders, founded in 1787 by George Gordon, 5th duke of Gordon (1770-1836). The Highlanders (as a people) are of Celtic descent, and a small number of them still speak Gaelic, an ancient Celtic language. In early days, the ruggedness of the land led to the separation of the Highlanders into small groups called clans. A chief rules each clan, and the members of a clan claimed descent from a common ancestor. The traditional garment of the Highland clansmen is the kilt, which is suitable for climbing the rough hills. The Highland soldier is representative of an unbreakable spirit, is an emblem of bravery and an icon of courage.

HIND: A female stag; symbol of peace and harmony. See Buck.

HILT: The handle of a sword. See Sword.

HIPPOGRIFF: the name of a fabulous animal, a griffin whose body terminated in that of a horse. It was a symbol of Apollo, but it is uncertain whether it belonged to him as the god of the muses or of the sun. Buonarotti thought that the Greeks had borrowed this symbol, together with the worship of Apollo, from the East, without knowing the exact signification; and this is not improbable. Although it may have been originally the symbol of the god of the sun, the poets sometimes attribute it to the god of the muses, instead of Pegasus. Symbol of truth, consciousness, power.

HOLLY: Holly is associated with the death and rebirth symbolism in both Pagan and Christian lore. In Arthurian legend, Gawain (representing the Oak King of summer) fought the Green Knight, who was armed with a holly club to represent winter. It is one of the three timbers used in the construction of chariot wheel shafts. It was used in spear shafts also. The qualities of a spear shaft are balance and directness, as the spear must be raised to be thrown, the holly indicates directed balance and vigour to fight if the cause is just; symbol of truth.

HOOK (fish): The symbolism is typically that of "fishes" however the fishhook may also symbolizes the agency whereby one investigates the unseen; one who despite not knowing his enemy's strength will venture forth with confidence.

HOOPOES: Has long been a symbol of inspiration. It is said that in ancient Egypt, in the days of the Pharaohs, the Hoopoe appeared in hieroglyphs as a symbol for gratitude.

HORSE: The Mitanni and the Hittites used Warhorses and chariots in Anatolia, in Syria by about 1600 BC. The Greeks viewed the horse as a heroic symbol, a wonder beast ridden by great warriors and by the gods. The belief in the magical power of the Horse is common to all peoples of Indo-European descent whose ancestors in the Palaeolithic had belonged to Horse totem clans and later, in the Neolithic, were the first to tame Horses, breed and ride them. In the Medieval period a well-equipped knight needed at least four different types of Horses: (1) a charger, (2) a palfrey, (3) a courser, and (4) a battle horse. To many, the Horse was a symbol of war and a black horse would mean calamitous war. Horses were a potent symbol from almost every world religion and mythology; many of its myths express the Horse's innate clairvoyance and ability to perceive the magic within humans. Some view the Horse as the symbol of strength, virility and lust. It is a symbol for loyalty and devotion, such as the faith it has with its master, and it also represents the warrior spirit, bravery and courage. Heraldic writers say that Horses (and those who used it as an emblem) represented the readiness for all employments for king and country.

HORSESHOE: Signifies good fortune and in ancient times was used as a safeguard against evil spirits. There is very little evidence of nailed-on shoes prior to AD 500 or 600, though there is speculation that the Celtic Gauls were the first to nail on metal horseshoes. Dunstan, the patron saint of blacksmiths, is said to have nailed a horseshoe to the Devil's hoof. Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil after he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is over the door. Legend has it.

HOUR-GLASS: A symbol of time and time expiring; an ancient pirate symbol; death, mortality. A winged hourglass represents time's swift and peremptory flight. An hourglass (on a tombstone) indicates that the deceased time on earth has expired. Some Pirate flags also included an hourglass, representing that the victims' time to surrender was running out.

HUNTING-HORN: A signal horn used in the chase. Denotes one who is fond of high pursuits. A Symbol of dominion over the wild, the hunt, the chase, and the forest, the hunting horn often was also representative of the noble class. The Fox hunt in particular, comes to mind, where it was used to announce a hunter's position and to signal hunting dogs. The hunting horn is also a religious symbol, as Gabriel, the archangel blows one, while hunting the Unicorn.

HURT (heurt, hueurt, hurtle-berry, huckleberry): A blue roundle; some claim that it represents a wound or hurt, while others say it is a representation of the hurtleberry also knows as the wortleberry. See Roundle.

HYDRA: A venomous monster of the Lernean marshes, in Argolis. It had seven heads (some say nine), and Hercules was sent to kill it. As soon as he struck off one of its heads, two shot up in its place. The stench from the Hydra's breath was enough to kill man or beast. Borne by those said to have fought the greatest of battles.

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Heraldry Symbolism Library by Armorial Gold Heraldry Services is provided as a free resource tool for Heraldry enthusiasts. The Heraldry Symbolism Library and the information contained therein, has been researched through original manuscripts and Armorial Gold’s own sources. The Heraldry Symbolism Library is provided as a free resource tool for Heraldry enthusiasts. Reproduction in any form is prohibited.