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Thoughts Like Music
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Aberdeen: Something Interesting Everyday 
25th-Aug-2008 12:16 am
kings college
I realize that I am alone in most of my geek-outs about Aberdeen, but I'm coming to terms with that.

I walk by Marischal College occasionally. I went by there recently and noticed that, yes, indeed, we will likely not have graduation ceremonies in Mitchell Hall. I'm not sure of the actual circumstances, but I do know that major works are going on and the scuttlebutt is that the University was not keeping it up in the way a Grade A building should be, thus the government has taken it off their hands for a while. Where the truth lies, I definitely don't know.

Anyway, I decided to take some close shots of the arms over the entrance to the courtyard. I (and hundreds of other people) have shot the entrance gate previously, but I thought that I would post the photos along with the heraldric blazons for the fun of it. (marnanel may be one of the few to share my enjoyment of the language of blazons.)

There are seven coats of arms above the gate. Six are obvious: Mitchell for Mitchell Hall, Old Aberdeen and (New) Aberdeen for location, Keith for the Earl Marischal founder of Marischal College, Elphinstone for William Elphinstone founder of King's College, and a quarterly version of the two locations and two founders' arms.

The seventh, with quite a complicated blazon, is for Lord Strathcona, a Scottish-born Canadian. He was rector for a few years ending in 1902 and then elected Chancellor for life! This was apparently due to his large contributions to the University.

There is a book about him and a large portion is available for preview on Google Books. I think I may have to buy this.

I find it interesting that I've never heard anything about the man before, but apparently he was quite a big deal to the university not all that long ago.

Something new everyday.

Also, if anyone is better at blazoning than me, please let me know because all but the Aberdeen arms are my own muddle through trying to work them out. Specifically, should I say that the men in the canoe are vested azure as well? Surely that's not just assumed under proper?
25th-Aug-2008 10:21 am (UTC)
i love this place
thank you for this

i was lucky enough to have my own graduation there
25th-Aug-2008 09:14 pm (UTC)
I will really be disappointed if they don't sort things out by the time I finish my PhD.
25th-Aug-2008 11:54 am (UTC)
Gorgeous photos!

25th-Aug-2008 09:13 pm (UTC)
25th-Aug-2008 05:54 pm (UTC)
*I* enjoyed this post! :-)

Your blazons look fine to me. Good on you for knowing a mascle--I would have had trouble with that one. And the bits I would have...not questioned, but blazoned differently in the Aberdeen-related arms, you have blazoned just as the city does. Specifically, the historic blazon of the tressure is "flowered and counterflowered" just as you have it, where I learned everything in unrelieved bastard herald's French and would have called that fleury-counter-fleury. Likewise, I might have reflected the embattlement differently or left it out (it's interesting that they specific it as three--that may have been a point of differencing from someone else).

The arms impaled with Keith's aren't the Lord Lyon's (his can be seen here <http://www.lyon-court.com/lordlyon/221.185.html>). The closest I've been able to find in a quick search of Scottish arms are Inglis, which is off by a whole tincture (azure, a lion rampant argent). There are some azure, a lion rampant or that are associated with various German and Low Countries names, plus some ?English? families named Meredith or Lloyd. Other websites sugggest connections to the Percies or the Bruces, but those families seem both to have used the opposite (or, a lion rampant azure). I wish I still had access to some of the compendia I used to.

Oh, and crests (like the bishop's mitre) are generally described separately from the blazon itself, the way supporters are.

I knew nothing about Lord Strathcona other than the unit he raised for the 2nd Boer War, so I learned something there, too!

Edited at 2008-08-25 05:56 pm (UTC)
25th-Aug-2008 09:13 pm (UTC)
I think that light blue colour is sometimes describled as bleu cerulean or something like that, but I really can't be bothered with learning any more colours than already occupy my head. :)

Thanks for looking for the unknown arms. I'm still curious about them. Hmm.

generally described separately
Yeah, that was a little off, but ah well.

28th-Aug-2008 11:54 pm (UTC)
FWIW I think the mitre isn't a crest as such; it's the episcopal equivalent of a helmet on a gentleman's coat or a coronet on a peer's. (Clergy don't have crests because they don't fight.)
29th-Aug-2008 12:07 am (UTC)
You are quite correct: I ought to have said 'helm' rather than 'crest'. And as you observe, since they don't have helms as such, clergy don't have crests (poor things!) :-)
8th-Oct-2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
After you wrote this, I went and read up a bit on flory-counter-flory (I seem to have decided on a different spelling, maybe more Scottish influenced than English? Who knows...).

So, then I was blazoning using such, but it seemed so tedious, especially when one could just say 'a royal tressure'. Apparently, that's pretty much a Scottish thing and referred to tressures that were granted as a mark of royal favour. So, they're all f-c-f but some are specifically royal.

I thought that it would be true to say that f-c-f bordures that were gules would all be royal, but the Queen Mother's arms contained a royal tressure, but azure.

So, I suppose it's a case of researching the family to find out when they were granted the tressure.

I can't believe I never knew about heraldry until a year ago or so. It's like a brilliant jigsaw that keeps on giving. :D

This is far after the fact, but thought I'd just put this here for posterity.
25th-Aug-2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
LJ is such a small world... we both know marnanel?
25th-Aug-2008 09:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I know him through firinel. :)
25th-Aug-2008 11:23 pm (UTC)
Same here, initially. But you and I know each other from sharing a wedding day, right?
27th-Aug-2008 10:09 am (UTC)
Yup. :)
27th-Aug-2008 12:40 pm (UTC)
That's what I thought. What a small, small world! :)
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