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A young person designing a coat of arms

Design your own coat of arms

Follow our instructions to design your own coat of arms! Learn about the history of coats of arms including who had them, why they were used and what they looked like, before creating your own!


Medieval knights with shields

What is a coat of arms?

A coat of arms is the name for the colourful decoration that knights had on their shields and as part of their outfits. They date all the way back to the 1100s, when they were worn over armour during battles and tournaments. They were used so that knights could tell each other apart.

A lot of families had their own coat of arms. Sometimes, two families would have the same design. When this happened, a special court - called the High Court of Chivalry - would decide which family would keep it.  For anyone to have a coat of arms today, it must have either been given to them or inherited from another member of their family.

A traditional coat of arms

What did they look like?

 Designs for coats of arms included four main things: 

  1. A shield divided into sections. Each section would have an image in it that had something to do with the family the coat of arms was made for.  
  2. On either side of the shield, there might be objects or animals - like the lion and unicorn in this coat of arms - that look as if they're holding it up. These are known as supporters. 
  3. Above the shield was a helmet and a crest. A crest is a special object worn on top of a helmet to help identify who's wearing it.  
  4. Below the shield was a phrase written in Latin, called a motto, about the person's beliefs.

Heraldic Code

Discover the medieval names and meanings for the different colours, shapes and animals used on coats of arms. When heraldry began, knights and their families spoke Norman French, and the elements used in coast of arms had special names in this language.

You don't need to know this code for your own coat of arms, but you could use the colours, shapes and animals in your own design. 

Discover the code
Design showing the elements of a coat of arms

Create your own design

Now it's your turn to create your own coat of arms.  To help you get started, we've created a template that you can download, print off and fill in - just click on the link below. 

Your design could include drawings of your home, family, pets, favourite superheroes, video games - anything goes! 

Don't forget to include supporters on either side, a helmet and crest at the top, and a motto along the bottom. 

Download your template
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