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Arthurian heraldry: ORKNEY ARMS

The Orkney Brothers

Here are the coats of arms for the great Sir Gawaine and his brothers. Gawaine, the eldest, has the simplest one while each brother has some variant on that.

Normally we’d expect that Gawaine, the heir, bore the same arms that his father did. He doesn’t though, and I’ve never seen any effort by any source to back-attribute the double-headed eagle to King Lot. See the stories below about the origins of their respective arms.

Gawaine Agravaine Gareth Mordred

The Larger Clan

Here’s the coats of arms for the the cousins of Gawaine. This will get larger, and will include:

Sir Gingalin (his mother was Dame Ragnell), Sir Florence and Sir Lovel, sons of Gawaine
Cousins: Sir Edward of Orkney, Sir Sadok
The five "bastard Ywaines" who are found in the Vulgate. All of them sons of King Uriens, but none of these are sons of Morgan le Fay, whose only issue is Ywaine, Knight of the Lion.

 Ywaine Garloth Arms

Origin of Gawaine’s Arms

I love to discover where the origins, literary or historical, of the arthurian coats of arms.

The particular coat of arms of Sir Gawaine come from a medieval Arthurian story of which one copy exists, and it is written in Latin. It is called De Ortu Walwanii. It’s a peculiar, non-canonical story in which Gawaine is set adrift and found, and raised by the Pope, who gives him the papal arms to bear as his own. He had various adventures, of course, before he shows up at Arthur’s court where he’s wearing an entirely new style of clothing called a surcoat, and he so he is called the Knight of the Surcoat until his identity is released.

Of non-Arthurian but of interest nonetheless is that this particular manuscript has the only known formula for Greek Fire that is known. It was written not only in Latin, but also in Alchemical, and so it is still undeciphered.

Origin of King Lot’s Arms

Lot Arms

There’s some kind of relationship between Lot the man and Lothian, his land. I don’t know which came first, though I suspect the region’s name is older than the medieval legends.

His coat of arms has nothing to do with Lothian. It has to do with his name, Lot.

Basically, that little red corner is a pun, wherein “lot” is used the same way that we would say “the lot for my house.” It’s a little piece of land or property, like what is shown there on the shield. I suppose we should be happy his name didn’t end up to be King Plot of Plothain.

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