Pile (heraldry)

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For homonymy, see Pile.

In heraldry, a pile is a charge usually counted as one of the ordinaries (figures bounded by straight lines and occupying a definite portion of the shield).

It consists of a wedge emerging from the upper edge of the shield and converging to a point near the base. If it touches the base, it is blazoned throughout.

Example of a standard pile, issuant from the chief.

Variant positions and varying numbers[edit]

Though the pile issues from the chief (upper edge) by default, it may be specified as issuing from any other part of the edge or as extending from edge to edge of the shield. Although it is not supposed to issue singly from the base, this rule is frequently ignored.

Variant forms[edit]

Like any ordinary, a pile may have other charges on it, may have its edges ornamented by any of the lines of variation, and may have any tincture or pattern.

Rare variants[edit]

Occasionally piles have more than one point, appear in large numbers, have their points truncated or ornamented, have their edges ornamented, or are charged with other piles.

Other things 'in pile' or 'pilewise'[edit]

A collection of charges in a converging arrangement may be blazoned as pilewise or in pile.

Charge or division?[edit]

per pile or tierced per pile gules, vert and argent

The distinction between a pile and a field divided per chevron inverted, or between a pile inverted and a field per chevron, can be uncertain.

The coat shown here, for the Elsenburg College of Agriculture, was blazoned by the South African Bureau of Heraldry as Per pile embowed inverted throughout gules, vert and argent; dexter a single share plough and sinister a garb, or, in base an anchor azure, cabled gules; but it could as easily be blazoned as Per pale gules and vert; on a pile inverted embowed argent, between a plough and a garb Or, an anchor azure cabled gules.

External links[edit]

Hard copy[edit]

  • Boutell's Heraldry (revised J P Brook-Little, Norroy and Ulster King of Arms). Frederick Warne, London and New York, 1983
  • Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, Lord Lyon King of Arms: Scots Heraldry (revised Malcolm R Innes of Edingight, Marchmont Herald). Johnston and Bacon, London and Edinburgh, 1978
  • Kevin Greaves: A Canadian Heraldic Primer. The Heraldry Society of Canada, Ottawa, 2000
  • A C Fox-Davies: A Complete Guide to Heraldry (revised by J P Brooke-Little, Richmond Herald). Thomas Nelson and Sons, London 1969
  • Sir James Balfour Paul (Lord Lyon King of Arms): An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland. Edinburgh: W. Green & Sons, 1903
  • David Reid of Robertland and Vivien Wilson : An Ordinary of Arms, volume 2 [1902-1973]. Lyon Office, Edinburgh 1977