‘To Blazon, is to express what Shapes, Kinds, and Colour of Things borne in Arms are, and their Significations.’
So writes Francis Nichols in his book on heraldry: Rudiments of Honour (1720). The use of words such as azure, argent, gules, impaled, rampant (as in Lion Rampant, the Royal Standard of Scotland) and quartered is often daunting to the uninitiated.
Here are the coats of arms of Bruce (Elgin) and Dalrymple, each with their own particular history and development.
These days anyone domiciled in Scotland, or those of Scottish ancestry domiciled in the Commonwealth can apply to the Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland for a grant of Arms. It is he that maintains the Scottish Public Registers of Arms and Genealogies.
Francis Nichols, Rudiments of Honour: or the Second Part of the ‘British Compendium.’ Wherein is Contain’d a Particular Account of the Present Nobility of Scotland, or North Britain. London: H. Meere, 1720.