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Heraldic Monsters

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There are many Heraldic Monsters or mythical animals, of which the Dragon is probably the best known.

Many of these monsters are rare, though some such as the unicorn are met with rather more often. One of my favourites is the sea dog (right) which is shown much like a normal hunting dog or talbot, but with webbed feet, a fin running down its back, and often fish-scales on the body!

Like a Tyger but with serrated horns and a deer’s legs. Probably the same as an Ibex though the horns may curve more. The antelope’s horns point backwards, the ibex’s forwards according to some references
A wyvern with a dragon’s head stuck on the end of his tail
Calopus or Chatloup
Wolf-like, with horns
A giraffe
Like a camelopard but with 2 long, curving horns
Half-man, half-horse, as in classical mythology
Chinese Dragon
Lizard-like, without wings
Like a wyvern with a cock’s head, comb and wattles, and a barbed tongue
The heraldic dragon is a 4-legged beast with a horny head, barbed tongue, scaly back, armoured rolls on the chest and belly, 2 bat-like wings, 4 legs with talons like an eagle’s, and a pointed tail often with an arrow-like end. It is usually shown rampant, statant or passant, and rarely displayed like an eagle. A sea dragon has no wings
A curious beast with a fox’s head and ears, a wolf’s body, hind legs and tail, and an eagle’s shanks and talons for front legs
Griffin or Gryphon
The head, breast and claws of an eagle, with the hindquarters and tail of a lion. It has ears. If rampant it is termed segreant. A male griffin has no wings but often has horns and a spiky tail
Vulture-like bird with the head and breasts of a woman
A cross between a horse and a griffin, with the front of a female griffin and the back of a horse
A 7-headed dragon
Probably the same as an Antelope, but with straighter horns. The antelope’s horns point backwards, the ibex’s forwards according to some references
Usually shown as a wyvern with no wings, i.e. a two-legged dragon which may breathe fire. This is a rare monster, probably derived from Scandinavian mythology where it is common in the form of a monstrous serpent that devours cattle and sometimes bodies. There is also a lingworm or heather monster but that does not seem to have made it into English heraldry. Can also be spelt lindorm
An alternative name for the Lynx, which is in fact the (real) European lynx, a spotted cat with a shortish tail and tufts on its ears; seen as a supporter and crest in the arms of the Worshipful Company of Skinners, one of the London Guilds. The name lucern originally meant the fur or skin of the lynx rather than the animal itself
An alternative name for the Lucern or Lynx, as seen in the Skinners Arms (also used by the Skinners School in Tunbridge Wells, where the name Lyzard, pronounced lie-zard is used) Thanks to P. Richards for this information
Mermen, Mermaids and Tritons
These occur quite frequently. Mermaids are usually shown sitting on a rock with the obligatory comb and mirror!
A ram/goat cross with 4 horns
A griffin’s head, neck and wings, a lion’s body and a bear’s (or camel’s according to some references) tail
Much as a real panther, but usually shown incensed, i.e. with flames issuing from its mouth and ears
A winged horse
An eagle rising from the flames
A winged serpent or snake
Lizard-like, shown surrounded by flames. Also sometimes depicted as a fire-breathing dog-like animal with a lion’s tail
Sea Dog
A talbot-like dog with scales, webbed feet and a dorsal fin down his back; rather a charming creature, often shown blue or green
The front of a heraldic lion and a fish’s tail. Similar hybrids produce sea-wolves, sea-horses, etc.
The heraldic tyger is much like a lion, but wih a long downcurving tusk on the end of his nose. A real tiger is blazoned as a Bengal Tiger
The heraldic unicorn has a horse’s body, a single long horn, a lion’s tail, tufted hocks and cloven hoofs like a goat, and a beard
A 2-legged dragon. If proper it is green with a red chest, belly and underwings
Bull-like with a lion’s face, 2 long horns and a short, tufted tail

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© Gill Smith 1997 – 2000