Monday, August 26, 2013

New Arms for Albemarle County, VA

Readers of this blog will know that I am interested in designing better heraldry for my local institutions in Virginia.  Today I would like to consider the Albemarle County seal.

The biggest shortcoming of the seal is that it is not readily identifiable from a distance.  While it includes symbols of the University of Virginia and the local countryside, as well as the state flower (dogwood) and the scales of justice, what is most obvious from any distance is the yellow border and yellow circle, with some blue/green things going on in between.  Most of the details are lost.

In place of this seal I offer the following mock-up of arms:

The blazon, the technical description, is: Argent, between a pall Azure three scallops Gules.

The blue Y-shaped design (called a pall in heraldry) represents the Rivanna River, whose North and South Forks come together in Albemarle County.  The three red shells are drawn, with reversed coloration, from the arms of the Earls of Albemarle, for whom the county is named.  Red and white represent the blood that was shed here during the War of Independence and the Civil War, and the peace which now reigns.  Red and white are also the heraldic colors of Sir Walter Raleigh, founder of the Colony of Virginia, while Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia, used red, white, and blue, in his arms.

If one wanted to include elements of the current seal - e.g. the "Founded AD 1744" or the dogwood flowers - these might be incorporated onto a motto banner, a crest, or a compartment.
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