Boars in heraldry

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A wild boar, as shown on the canting coat of arms of Eberbach, Germany (1976 design)
A Roman Antefix roof tile showing the boar badge and standard of the Twentieth Legion
The Swiss Saubanner as depicted in the Berner Schilling (1480s)
Heraldic boars on the memorial to Alexander Nisbet in the Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh.

The wild boar and boar's head are common charges in heraldry. A complete beast may represent what are seen as the positive qualities of the wild boar, namely courage and fierceness in battle; a boar's head may represent hospitality (from the custom of serving the boar's head in feasts), or it may symbolize that the bearer of the arms is a noted hunter.[1]

In classical heraldry of the late medieval and early modern period, the boar is somewhat rarer than the lion, eagle or bear. A notable example from the late medieval period is the white boar of Richard III of England (1452–1485). The boar appears frequently on coats of arms of towns or cities designed in modern times. More rare than the boar is the sow or female pig (often shown as suckling piglets), found on some municipal coats of arms such as that of Albano Laziale.[2]

Early history[edit]

The boar was used as an emblem in some instances during antiquity and the early medieval period (i.e. predating the development of classical European heraldry). During the Roman Empire, at least three legions are known to have had a boar as their emblems - Legio I Italica, Legio X Fretensis and Legio XX Valeria Victrix. The Knocknagael Boar Stone is a well-known Pictish stone with a depiction of a boar emblem dating to ca. the 7th century. In this context, the name of Orkney is interpreted as being derived from orc-, the Celtic for "pig", presumably from a Pictish tribe which had the boar or wild pig as their emblem. The boar also appears to have been used as an emblem during the Viking Age, reflected in the mythological boar Gullinbursti, a representation of the god Freyr, and in Hildisvíni ("battle pig"), the boar of the goddess Freya, and also mentioned in Beowulf as a figure of a boar worn in battle on the crest of a helmet.

With the development of heraldry  in the later Middle Ages, the boar makes an appearance as the White Boar, personal device of Richard III of England, used for large numbers of his livery badges.[3]

The Buzic noble family of Bohemia used a boar's head as heraldic device from the 14th century, later (as Zajíc) combined with a hare.

Early Modern and modern examples[edit]

In early modern heraldry, use of a boar's head (rather than the entire animal) became a popular device. Siebmachers Wappenbuch (1605) shows a boar in the coat of arms of the Schweinichen noble family.

Modern rulers who have used the boar's head as part of their coats of arms include Joseph Bonaparte, Joachim Murat

Family coats of arms[edit]

In Ireland, boars feature in many coats of arms of the noble families, Three boars are seen on coats of arms of Lockhart, Grimsby and James Edward Oglethorpe. In addition, the Sullivan-Mor coat of arms bears a boar, and the Sullivan-Ber crest has two. The O'Deorain (Doran) clan, being an off-shoot of the Sullivans, has a boar upon its crest, as well. The Rogan coat of arms features a boar crossing a hilltop. The Healy clan, has three boars' heads.

In Scotland, a boar's head is the crest of Clan Campbell and appears in both the coat of arms and crest of Clan Chisholm. Three boar's heads appear in the coats of arms of the related clans Swinton, Gordon, Nesbitt and Urquhart. The Keating clan uses a boar going through a holly bush to symbolize toughness and courage.

In Spain, the coats of arms of the noble families Garmendia, Urraga, Urrutia, Urieta and Urmeneta have a boar. Boars, wolves and bears are common charges in Basque armory, especially from Guipuzcoa.

Towns[edit]

Boar charges are also often used in canting (heraldic punning). The German towns of Eberbach and Ebersbach an der Fils, both in Baden-Württemberg, and Ebersbach, Saxony use civic arms that demonstrates this. Each depicts a boar - Eber in German (and in two cases a wavy fess or bars meant to represent a brook - Bach in German).

Albano Laziale in Italy is near the site where, according to legend, Aeneas's son Ascanius founded Alba Longa; the modern city's coat of arms today sports the white (Latin: Alba) boar dreamt by Ascanius before the founding of the city.[dubious ]

Military and paramilitary badges[edit]

The flag of the Serbian rebel forces during the First Serbian Uprising featured the wild boar, together with other Coat of Arms of Serbia national insignia. During that time wild boars were common in Serbian forests and mountains, and pigs were the main export of the region.

In Belgium, the wild boar is the symbolic animal of the Ardennes forests in the south of the country, and is the mascot of one of the Belgian Army's premier infantry regiments, the Régiment de Chasseurs Ardennais, the soldiers of which wear a boar's head pin on their beret.[citation needed]

In Popular Culture[edit]

The costume of the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail features a red boar's head.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Meanings Behind the Symbols: Family Crests, Blazons, Coat of Arms, Personalized Crests
  2. ^ http://www.comune.albanolaziale.rm.it/storia.php
  3. ^ "boar". concise.britannica.com. Retrieved 2007-06-21. "In Europe the boar is one of the four heraldic beasts of the chase and was the distinguishing mark of Richard III, king of England."