How to make a family crest and coat of arms

An Epic Adventure through the Timeless Realm of Heraldry

In a time long past, the heraldic universe reigned supreme. Knights, nobles, and institutions donned distinctive insignias, each a vivid display of identity and prestige. These symbolic designs, known as family crests or coats of arms, have been passed down through the generations, embodying not just centuries of family heritage, but also fascinating tales of valor, honor, and ancestry.

Today, we shall journey back to this captivating epoch, navigating the twists and turns of your lineage, and guiding you through the process of creating your unique family crest or coat of arms.

Heraldry: A Nexus of Art, History, and Identity

family history knight

Creating your family crest is more than an art project; it's akin to stepping into a time machine and journeying through your family's history. It’s about unraveling the threads of your past and weaving them into a powerful symbol of your identity.

The complexity of this quest derives from the meticulous research required and the historical significance attached to every element of the crest.

1. Embarking on a Genealogical Odyssey

The first port of call on this journey is your family's past. Delve into the archives of your lineage, mining old documents, photographs, letters, and family anecdotes for nuggets of historical gold.

Websites like and can help you chart your course through the murky waters of genealogy. This deep dive is fundamental as it shapes the symbolic narrative of your crest.

2. Deciphering the Enigmatic Language of Heraldry

ancient scroll of family crest language

Equipped with your family history, your next step is to immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of heraldic symbolism.

Heraldry boasts a vast array of symbols, each bearing a unique meaning. Lions represent courage, while the oak tree can signify strength and endurance.

Deciphering these symbols is like learning a new language, one that will enable you to tell your family's story in the pictorial dialect of the medieval era.

3. Crafting Your Crest: A Detailed Exploration

The Shield (Escutcheon)

At the heart of any coat of arms is the shield, also known as the escutcheon.

The shield is the canvas on which the key elements of your heraldic story unfold. Its divisions, colors, and symbols hold profound meaning.

For instance, a divided shield can indicate the merging of two families, while specific colors can represent virtues like loyalty (blue) or strength (red).

The Helm and Crest

Above the shield sits the helm, which often reflects the rank of the bearer, from the open visor of royalty to the barred helmet of a noble.

Atop the helm is the crest, typically a single symbol or motif, like a knight's plume or a mythical beast, standing as a metaphor for your family's spirit or ethos.

The Mantle

Surrounding the helm and shield is the mantle or mantling. Originally a representation of a knight’s protective cloth, it’s usually depicted as a tattered piece of fabric, symbolizing the wearer's prowess in battle. The colors and pattern of the mantle can add further layers of meaning to your crest.

The Motto

Beneath the shield, you may choose to inscribe a motto.  While only recorded for some family crests, this brief statement encapsulates your family's guiding philosophy or a timeless piece of wisdom. It serves as a verbal testament to your family's character and values.

Unraveling the Past: The Importance of Thorough Research

A crest is not a mere assortment of symbols. Each element is a piece of a complex puzzle that, when assembled, tells a compelling tale of lineage, tradition, and identity. By delving deeply into your family's history and the world of heraldic symbolism, you can create a crest that truly resonates with your ancestral heritage.

Research unveils the stories and accomplishments of your ancestors, which in turn informs the choice of symbols for your crest. Imagine discovering an ancestor who was a celebrated healer in their community; you might choose the symbol of a serpent around a staff, an ancient emblem of healing, to honor them. The connection between research and design isn't merely factual but deeply emotional, turning your crest into a tribute to your ancestors' legacy.

A Guiding Hand: The Merits of Engaging a Heraldic Expert

The crafting of a family crest or coat of arms is an expedition filled with historical, symbolic, and artistic nuances. As rewarding as it can be to embark on this journey alone, the aid of a seasoned guide can ensure that you don't lose your way.

Professional heraldic artists and genealogists have spent years mastering the art and science of heraldry. They can trace the labyrinthine paths of your lineage with accuracy, ensuring that no significant ancestors or stories remain obscured in the mists of time.

Moreover, they're well-versed in the subtleties of heraldic symbolism and can guide you in choosing the most fitting symbols for your crest. Their artistic expertise ensures that your crest isn't just historically accurate, but also aesthetically striking, a splendid blend of medieval charm and contemporary elegance.

Engaging a professional isn't a detour from your journey, but a way to ensure that it is as thorough and rewarding as possible. Their expertise enables you to honor your past while creating an enduring emblem for future generations, a timeless beacon of your family's heritage and values.

The Unending Chronicle: Crafting Your Legacy

Creating your family crest or coat of arms is like writing your own chapter in the ever-expanding book of heraldry. It's a journey of discovery and creation, a path that leads you to the heart of your identity and enables you to share your story in a manner that is as visually stunning as it is historically significant.

Whether you choose to undertake this quest on your own or enlist the guidance of an expert, your journey through the realm of heraldry promises to be an enlightening and fulfilling one. It's your chance to explore the past, shape the present, and influence the future. So hoist your sails, and embark on this heraldic voyage - your family's unique tale awaits to be told!