Frequency of Last Names

Following up on my recent post with the most common first names in the Society’s armorial, here’s a list of the hundred most common last names registered to date.

It’s no surprise that last names are more diverse than first names, so this round up of the most popular bynames in the Society doesn’t have  anything that rises to the level of Bill, Bob, Mike, and Tom found in my recent post.

Still, there are clearly some entries here that are relatively common, and it’s an interesting mix of types, including locative, patronymic, descriptive, and occupational bynames.

of York 89
MacLeod 83
d’Avignon 75
the Wanderer 69
MacGregor 63
Rose 55
the Red 50
Morgan 46
of Skye 46
MacDonald 45
da Firenze 44
de Lyon 44
MacPherson 42
Stewart 41
du Bois 39
Drake 38
Cameron 34
ap Rhys 33
Sinclair 33
the Black 32
Bjarnarson 32
Campbell 32
Fletcher 32
of Kent 32
de la Mer 30
Grey 30
Gunnarsson 30
von Bremen 29
d’Anjou 29
da Venezia 28
Haraldsson 27
Fraser 26
de la Croix 26
de Lacy 26
de Montfort 26
Ragnarsson 26
of Atenveldt 25
de Leon 25
de Navarra 25
Archer 24
Buchanan 24
de Calais 24
Ruadh 24
the Silent 24
du Lac 24
Gordon 23
Thorne 23
O’Connor 23
Dragon 22
Einarsson 22
Gunn 22
de Luna 22
Ulfsson 21
Dubh 21
MacLachlan 21
Magnusson 21
Montgomery 21
of Canterbury 21
of Warwick 21
de Grey 21
de Navarre 21
de Lorraine 20
di Firenze 20
Hrafnsson 20
the Archer 20
the Grey 20
von Regensburg 20
of Anglesey 20
of Glastonbury 20
of the Isles 20
Olafsson 20
MacKay 19
MacRae 19
al-Zarqa’ 19
ap Morgan 19
Blackthorne 19
the Mad 19
von Baden 19
the Fair 18
the Quiet 18
Tremayne 18
Tryggvason 18
Winter 18
Wolf 18
MacKenzie 18
O’Neill 18
Peregrine 18
Hawkwood 18
de la Vega 18
de Lyons 18
dei Medici 18
della Luna 18
de Beaumont 17
de Clare 17
de la Rose 17
de Valencia 17
MacFarlane 17
Martel 17
Noir 17
von Brandenburg 17

(You’ll notice that I am grouping articles and prepositions with the words they accompany, which affects the rankings, as “Grey”, “de Grey” and “the Grey” are considered separate names, and people with bynames like “of the Endless Sea” and “of Tree Girt Sea” are counted separately rather than as sharing the common last name “Sea.”)

(And as with the previous batch, note that “last names” are not synonymous with “bynames,” both because of the pattern seen in some languages of double bynames, and because of the differing word order found in East Asian names where the personal given name often appears after the inherited family name or other bynames.)

Frequency of First Names

With over fifty thousand personal names registered in the Society’s armorial database, it comes as no surprise that a number of name elements are reused numerous times, while others are rare or unique.

I recently looked at the frequency of name elements by their position in a name, which allowed me to pull together the below list of the one hundred most common first names.

William 426
Robert 341
Michael 270
Thomas 264
John 258
James 242
Elizabeth 238
Richard 219
Anne 198
Morgan 171
Katherine 159
Anna 154
Edward 152
David 147
Duncan 137
Geoffrey 136
Catherine 135
Wilhelm 128
Alexander 114
Isabella 113
Eleanor 109
Ian 108
Brian 106
Margaret 106
Sorcha 100
Angus 100
Jean 99
Cassandra 98
Charles 98
Juliana 97
Elspeth 96
Marcus 96
Sean 95
Eric 94
Daniel 94
Genevieve 91
Mary 91
Maria 89
Rhiannon 86
Stephen 85
Andrew 84
Bjorn 83
Magnus 83
Elena 83
Karl 83
Emma 81
Isabel 81
Gareth 79
Deirdre 78
Marie 78
Anastasia 75
Christopher 75
Rose 73
Edmund 70
Katerina 68
Robin 68
Seamus 68
Ulrich 68
Tristan 66
Alaric 66
Alexandra 66
Colin 65
Simon 64
Caitlin 63
Isabeau 63
Gabriel 62
Johannes 62
Alessandra 62
Arthur 61
Dafydd 61
Diana 61
Fiona 61
Helena 61
Sarah 61
Sebastian 61
Martin 61
Connor 60
Roland 60
Francesca 59
Erik 58
Guillaume 58
Wolfgang 58
Rowan 57
Eoin 57
Johann 57
Áine 56
Giovanni 55
Magdalena 55
Gavin 54
Vladimir 53
Bran 53
Constance 53
Galen 52
Konrad 52
Malcolm 52
Owen 52
Gabrielle 51
Gillian 51
Gwyneth 51
Ivan 51

(Note that “first names” are not synonymous with “given names,” both because of the pattern seen in some languages of double given names, and because of the differing word order found in East Asian names where the personal given name often appears after the inherited family name or other bynames.)

Frequency of Branch Designators

As the herald of the Crown Province of Østgarðr, I am well aware that it is the only branch in the Society to bear that particular designator — a result of its curious history as the home territory of the earliest royalty of the East Kingdom — and became curious as to what other unusual branch designators were to be found in the catacombs of the Society’s armorial database.

A bit of data extraction produced the following table:

584 Shire (or Schire, Scir)
297 Canton (or Kanton)
187 Barony (or Baronnie)
93 College (or Collegium, Université)
20 Kingdom
20 March (or Marche)
19 Stronghold (or Fortaleza)
11 Province
9 Principality
8 Riding
2 Hamlet
2 Bailiwick
2 Borough
2 Port
1 Barony-Marche
1 Dominion
1 Crown Province

I’ve grouped spelling variations and translations into different languages together.

The most common cases are the standard organizational units of the Society:

  • Kingdoms are the highest level of the hierarchy, with all other branches contained within a kingdom.
  • Principalities are large regions of a kingdom with their own royalty.
  • Shires are independent groups, and the most common type of branch in the Society.
  • Baronies are regions with landed nobility.
  • Cantons are subgroups within a barony.
  • Provinces are equivalent to baronies but do not have landed nobility.
  • Ridings are subgroups within a province.
  • Colleges are groups associated with a university or other educational institution.
  • Strongholds are groups associated with a military base.

The term March seems to be used by groups that are organizationally equivalent to shires or cantons.

Although listed in the Armorial as a Principality, Tir Mara is considered a “Crown Principality,” which is an organizational structure for a group that is on a path towards becoming a Principality, as described in the Cunnan wiki.

I dug a little deeper into the least-common designators to see when they were issued:

  • Crown Province: Østgarðr (1973, but shown as 1984 in the O&A)
  • Barony-Marche: Debatable Lands (1975)
  • Dominion: Myrkfaelinn (1975)
  • Bailiwicks: Ivyeinrust (1981), Broken Bridges (1984)
  • Boroughs: Southe Banke (1981), Duncorlach (1988)
  • Ports: Crickstow-on-Sea (1998), Curragh Mor (1995)
  • Hamlets: Gildenwick (2018), Wildmoor (2018)

Most of these unusual designators are associated with submissions from the East Kingdom, although the Debatable Lands and Myrkfaelinn are now part of Æthelmearc.

The first three date from the era of Alfgar the Sententious’s role as Brigantia Herald (1970–77). All three are still active. Østgarðr and Debatable Lands function as baronies, while Myrkfaelinn is organizationally equivalent to a shire but has a unique schtick.

Both Bailiwicks were organized as cantons, one within the Debatable Lands and the other within Bhakhail. Broken Bridges dissolved within a few years, but Ivyeinrust remains active in and around the University of Pennsylvania.

Boroughs appear to have been initially thought of as an incipient  form for college groups. Neither of these groups is still active. The concept of Boroughs seem to have been an invention of Carolingia.  Subsequent attempts to register the Borough of Haven’s End and the Borough of Felding as branches were returned, although they were allowed to register as households.

Ports are branches associated with ships or naval bases; for example, Curragh Mor was a branch aboard the aircraft carrier USS NimitzCurragh Mor dissolved years ago, and the last visible activity in Crickstow-on-Sea was around 2007.

The only one of these uncommon designators that is in active use for new registrations is “Hamlet,” a term used in Lochac and Drachenwald, first registered in April 2018.

Provincial Awards Missing From the Kingdom Order of Precedence

The East Kingdom Order of Precedence site, generally referred to as “the EK OP”, records tens of thousands of kingdom and baronial awards issued over the East’s fifty-year history.

It’s an impressive feat of data collection, given the all-volunteer nature of our Society, but it is not flawless. The reporting process involves repeated transcription of unfamiliar names, and I am given to understand that the web interface used to enter and update data in the system is not particularly easy to use, so a number of errors and omissions have accumulated over time and it can take a while to correct them.

Back in 2017, I worked to identify a number of people who had been issued awards by the Crown Province of Østgarðr that were missing from the OP, and got those omissions corrected.

However since then another backlog has accumulated, as none of our recent court reports have been incorporated into the OP.

To facilitate ongoing recommendations, I am posting my notes on awards that are not listed in the OP. Hopefully they will be added to the main repository eventually…

Order of the Seahorse
• Aurora ffolkes, 10/21/2017 (Goat’s Tavern)
• Arnora Ketilsdottir, 1/13/2018 (Deck the Halls of Valhalla)
• Arnbiorg Helga Niálsdóttir, 2/10/2018 (King’s and Queen’s A&S and Bardic Championships)

Order of the Sea Dog of Østgarðr
• Oliver de Bainbridge, 10/21/2017 (Goat’s Tavern)
• Jenna Childslayer, 10/21/2017 (Goat’s Tavern)
• Phillip the First, 10/21/2017 (Goat’s Tavern)
• Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin, 10/21/2017 (Goat’s Tavern)
• Brandr Aronsson, 1/13/2018 (Deck the Halls of Valhalla)
• Godiva de la Mer, 1/13/2018 (Deck the Halls of Valhalla)
• Francesco Gaetano Greco d’Edessa, 4/21/2018 (Lions Awaken)

Order Of The Silver Sea-Lion
• Mongu Chinua, 9/8/2018 (The Feast of John Barleycorn)

Order of the Silver Lantern
• Þórfinnr Hróðgeirsson, 4/14/2018 (Brew U)
• Anneke Walmarsdotter, 4/21/2018 (Lions Awaken)

Order of the Sea-Urchin of Østgarðr (New)
• Benjamin of Northpass, 9/8/2018 (The Feast of John Barleycorn)
• Alaxandair Morda mac Matha, 9/8/2018 (The Feast of John Barleycorn)

April’s Traceable Art

There’ve been 120 new illustrations added to the Book of Traceable Heraldic Art since February, bringing us to a total of 2,600 items.

This batch includes a depiction of a belladona flower and a number of other images by Nicholas de Estleche, as well as two caps — a bycocket and a cap of maintenance — and some everyday items found in medieval households, including a grater, a funnel, and a hand mirror.

Below is a summary of the new entries; each includes a single illustration unless a number is provided in parentheses, and represents a new heading unless marked as an addition.

  • Lines: Nebuly Line (1 additional)
  • Field Divisions: Per Bend Nebuly (1 additional), Per Chevron Ployé Flory at the Point (1 additional), Per Fess Nebuly (1 additional), Per Fess Potenty, Per Pale Potenty
  • Ordinaries: Chief Engrailed, Chief Invected, Chief Potenty, Fess Engrailed, Fess Fusilly, Fess Invected, Fess Potenty, Pale Fusilly, Pale Potenty, Pile (1 additional), Pile Cotised, 3 Piles Inverted Palewise
  • Shapes & Symbols: Cross Moline (1 additional), Lozenge Ployé (1 additional), Lozenge Pometty, Masculyn, Mitsutomoe (2 additional), Zule
  • The World: Crescent (1 additional), Gurges (3 additional), Stone (1 additional)
  • Plants: Acorn Slipped & Leaved (1 additional), Beladona Flower Slipped and Leaved, Lotus Flower Affronty (1 additional), Palm Tree, Pine Tree (1 additional), Rose (1 additional), Sexfoil, Sprig of Tobacco
  • Invertebrates: Butterfly (2 additional), Scorpion (1 additional), Spider (1 additional), Wasp (1 additional)
  • Birds: Bird Volant Addorsed, Duck Enraged, Eagle (1 additional), Eagle, Double-Headed (1 additional), Pelican In Its Piety (1 additional)
  • Beasts: Anteater Rampant, Badger’s Head Cabossed, Badger’s Head Erased (1 additional), Bagwyn Rampant Guardant, Beaver Rampant Vorant of a Fish (1 additional), Beaver Salient (2 additional), Beaver Salient Vorant of a Fish, Beaver Statant (2 additional), Beaver Statant Vorant of a Fish, Boar’s Head Issuant From a Bowl, Dog Passant (1 additional), Genet Passant, Horse Passant (1 additional), Ibex’s Horn (1 additional), Lion Passant Guardant (1 additional), Lion Queue Forchy (1 additional), Mouse Dormant, Mouse Sejant Erect, Tyger Statant, Wolf Passant (1 additional), Yale Rampant (2 additional)
  • People: Arm Vested Fesswise Maintaining a Gemmed Ring, Moor’s Head (2 additional)
  • Objects: Ark of the Covenant (2), Bellows (1 additional), Besom (1 additional), Brooch, Closed (2 additional), Buckle (1 additional), Bycocket, Candlestick (3), Cap, Cap of Maintenance (2), Carriage Frame, Chest, Cog-Wheel (1 additional), Comb, Hair, Drill, Folding Fan (1 additional), Winnowing Fan, Fork, Funnel, Furison (2 additional), French-Cut Gemstone In Profile, Hexagonal Gemstone, Grater, Heckle, Hood, Knife (1 additional), Ladle, Lymphad with Oars Shipped (1 additional), Hand Mirror, Wall Mirror, Phial (1 additional), Bookbinding Press, Rapier (1 additional), Scroll, Open (1 additional), Shacklebolt, Shoe (1 additional), Spoon (1 additional), Tambourine, Tassel (1 additional), Triangular Trivet

An OSCAR Commentary Checklist

The SCA’s College of Arms processes around three thousand name and armory submissions per year, attempting to ensure that each is properly structured, historically plausible, and unique within the society. A distributed system of commentary allows the burden of this process to be shared among multiple heralds and minimizes the number of things that fall through the cracks.

By commenting on Letters of Intent, first at the kingdom level and then at the Society level, these other heralds help to catch problems, suggest additional resources, and highlight issues that need to be considered during the monthly decision meetings in which the senior-most heralds make the final determinations as to whether submissions will be accepted or returned.

The online system used for commentary is named OSCAR (the Online System for Commentary and Response), which was introduced around 2005 to replace the previous process which involved sending photocopies of submissions and heraldic comments back and forth by postal mail.

Below is a checklist of some of the things I check when reviewing names and armory in OSCAR — it’s not exhaustive, and other people would approach this process slightly differently, but if you’re just beginning to participate in the commentary process, this gives you a possible reference point to start from.

Note that you’re not required to check all of these items for all submissions — in fact, a lot of heralds end up specializing in certain areas, like only focusing on names from a certain language group, or only running conflict checks on armory — so feel free to pick and choose which things you’re going to work on.

And remember, when commenting you don’t have to have authoritative answers for everything — it’s fine to ask questions, or say “I’m not sure, but I wonder if this rule might apply to this case,” or just provide a link or piece of extra information that might make it easier for other people to make the final decision.

Names

Documentation:
  • Scans are included, or sources are on the no-photocopy list (see Admin Handbook Appendix H).
  • If links provided for web resources, they work when they’re clicked and bring up the correct resource.
  • Each name element exists in the referenced documentation…
    … using the submitted spelling exactly as shown…
    … as actual entries not just modern header forms….
    … and are either specifically dated, or the whole source is dated to a specific period.
  • If the documentation seems insufficient, can you find any relevant sources to supplement it?
Construction:
  • Personal name structure matches one listed for this language group (see SENA Appendix A) — or documentation is provided for the name construction.
  • Personal name elements are dated within 500 years of each other and are from a single regional naming group — or are dated within 300 years and are from compatible regional naming groups (see SENA Appendix C).
  • Household names follow a documented pattern (such as one from Alys’s Simple Guide to Household Names).
  • Order names follow a documented pattern (such as one from Alys’s Simple Order Name Checklist).
Conflicts:
  • Search for names using the same elements or variations that could sound similar.
  • Sufficient difference is established through addition or removal of a syllable, or a change in spelling of at least two letters of a syllable (a vowel and a consonant) that causes the sound to be different.
  • If you find some existing registrations that seem to conflict, or are questionable, or very close but probably clear, mention those in a comment.

Armory

Identifiability:
  • When looking at the image, a person familiar with medieval armory would be able to recognize the charges — e.g. the beast looks like a bear or a dog or a lion, not just a generic quadruped.
Charge Groups:
  • No ambiguity between primary and secondary charges (“sword and dagger”)
  • No charge group contains more than two charge types (“slot machine”).
  • All of the charges in a group that could be in the same posture/orientation, are so (“unity of orientation” / “unity of posture”).
  • No charges on tertiaries or overall charges (“excessive stacking”).
  • Overall charges extend well beyond the underlying charges without obscuring them (“barely overall”).
Contrast:
  • Parts of a multiply-divided field or charge have contrast with each other (not required for the common divisions of two or four pieces).
  • Primary and secondary charges have contrast with the field they’re on.
  • Tertiary charges have contrast with the charge they overlay.
  • Overall charges have contrast with the field, and do not share tinctures with the charges they overlay.
  • Contrast here means they’re not both metals, they’re not both colors, and there are no shared tinctures along the boundary where they meet.
Complexity:
  • If you count all of the tinctures, and all of the charge types (ignoring field divisions), the total is not higher than eight.
Blazon:
  • Terms are in standard order: field, primaries, non-peripheral secondaries, tertiaries on those charges, peripheral secondaries, tertiaries on peripherals, overall charges. (See Bruce’s “A Grammar of Blazonry”.)
  • Charge are described with number, type, complex line, posture, arrangement, orientation, tinctures, omitting any that are inapplicable or in their defaults.
  • All of the terms in the blazon are ones we use (use blazon pattern search for words you don’t recognize to see if they’ve been registered since 2012).
Documented Elements:
  • All divisions, complex lines, charge types, animal postures, and charge arrangements have either been registered since 2012, or are supported by documentation as dating to period.
  • No plants, animals, or objects that were only discovered or invented after 1600.
Marshaling:
  • If the field is divided per pale or quarterly, with plain lines, without charges that overlay the lines of division, and with each section plausibly registrable as independent armory, it might look like marshalling, which we don’t register.
Period Style:
  • Charges should fill the available space (or else “feed ‘em some charge chow”).
  • Complex lines should use a limited number of large repeats, not tiny zigzags (bumps should be “big and bold” not like “pinking shears”).
  • Ideally, the symmetry and use of space should match a visual style found in period.
  • Style problems may result in an artist’s note and are not always a cause for return.
Reserved and Restricted Charges:
  • Reserved charges, like crowns, loops of chain, or laurel wreaths, may only be used with appropriate evidence of entitlement. (Glossary Table 2.)
  • No restricted charges of the Red Cross, or traditional national symbols, like a red-and-white Tudor Rose, Chinese Imperial five-toed dragon, or a Papal cross. (Glossary Table 3.)
No Offensive Elements:
  • No prohibited charges like the swastika, flaming cross, or Hand of Glory. (Glossary Table 3.)
  • No depictions of human genitals, overly gory violence, degrading or insulting images.
  • Not excessively modern to the point where it would break the medieval atmosphere.
Conflicts:
  • You can look up the primary charge (or field division, for field-primary armory) in the Ordinary to find everything that could possibly conflict and then check by hand.
  • You can construct a complex search using armorial categories and features found in my.cat, then ignore items scored two points or more below the maximum possible, and check the remainder by hand.
  • You can use Kiho’s blazon parser as a shortcut to constructing a complex search, but make sure you review and understand the search terms it suggests, as sometimes it is mistaken, or needs some additional refinement to produce an efficient search.
  • If you find some existing registrations that seem to conflict, or are questionable, or very close but probably clear, mention those in a comment.

 

The Last Super-Simple Field-Only Armory

Earlier this week, I became curious about the simplest armory designs that remained available for registration in the Society — was it still possible to find two- and four-part field-only armory that didn’t use furs, field treatments, or complex lines?

I spent some time looking at all of the current field-only armory: 219 devices and badges registered over the last forty-eight years. A visual sense of the diversity of these registrations is provided by Vémundr Syvursson’s Field-Only Emblazons project from last year, in which he drew out all 202 of these that had been registered at that time.

It quickly became clear that in order to find any design spaces that remained open, I would need to take advantage of the fact that I had parsed all of the existing records from the Society’s Ordinary and Armorial into a relational database, which allowed me to run queries that would filter and group registrations to produce a summary of which combinations of lines and tinctures had been used in the past.

The results of that analysis suggested some corners of the design space that might be promising, but I still needed to individually conflict-check the combinations I came up with. In response to a question on the Facebook Heraldry Chat group, Marie de Blois pointed out an approach to checking field-only armory I had overlooked, which allowed me to work through a bunch of options in a timely fashion.

In short, to filter the O&A for possible conflicts with field-only two-part or four-part armory such as “Per fess argent and sable,” you can run a complex search with these parameters:

  • PFESS:argent
  • PFESS:~and sable
  • PFESS:sable:~and argent
  • PFESS:pl
  • FO — give this line a weight of 2
  • PO

Any results that appear with a score of 4 or higher are a potential conflict.

I wasn’t sure what I would find at the end of this process — were all of the super-simple options taken, or closed off due to conflicts with more complicated designs — or would I find that there were dozens of options sitting vacant?

The truth turned out to be somewhere between these two extremes: about a dozen opportunities to register field-only designs using the most common two- and four-part divisions with plain lines and solid tinctures.

I wasn’t entirely sure I should publicize the results of my search — should I leave these hidden in obscurity for people to find one at a time over the coming decades? Was publishing a list of them like giving poachers a map to the nesting sites of the last surviving members of a species teetering on the bring of extinction?

In the end, I decided that there was no real harm done by revealing this information, and thus I give you:

  • Per bend vert and purpure.
  • Per bend sinister gules and azure.
  • Per bend sinister purpure and gules.
  • Quarterly purpure and Or — I believe this does not conflict with the existing registration of “Quarterly arrondi sable and Or” thanks to the 2003 precedent (for “Brǫndólfr the Stout”) which grants a DC for arrondi lines in four-part field divisions.
  • Quarterly vert and purpure — or you can replace vert with azure or sable.
  • Per saltire gules and argent.
  • Per saltire vert and argent — I believe this does not conflict with the existing registration of “Per saltire arrondi vert and argent” thanks to the same precedent cited above and the existing registration’s blanket permission to conflict with one DC.

There was room in the per-pale family for one additional registration, or two if they gave each other permission to conflict; the colors involved work well for my wife and I, and so I have filled out the submission forms, and I think that closes out the last per-pale options.

I didn’t find any such opportunities available for the per-fess or per-chevron divisions.

In addition to those narrowly-constrained options, it turned out there was a wider latitude among the less-common per-chevron-inverted fields, where there is room to register a handful more devices. Some possible combinations include:

  • Per chevron inverted argent and purpure.
  • Per chevron inverted Or and gules.
  • Per chevron inverted sable and azure.
  • Per chevron inverted purpure and vert.

In addition to the tincture combinations listed above, there are several other ways you could mix-and match the options for per-chevron-inverted fields; for example, “sable and argent” is still available, as is “Or and vert” — however, “argent and vert” has a conflict. While the number of possible combinations is large, since each item that is registered creates a conflict for a dozen others, there’s only room for about five actual submissions.

In addition to the items listed above, there may be a few more options available thanks to blanket permission-to-conflict waivers on file, or by asking individual submitters for such permission.

And of course, it’s possible that I’ve overlooked something in my search, and there are other unregistered opportunities out there, waiting for some enterprising person to come along and find them: if you decide to go looking, I wish you good hunting!

Available as a PDF file or as a high-resolution PNG.

An Armory Conflict-Checking Checklist

SENA devotes over 10,000 words to conflict checking armory, which the below guide attempts to summarize.

It includes references to the relevant sections of SENA so you can track down more details if needed.


To conflict-check a new piece of armory, search the armorial database to find a list of all existing registrations which could possibly conflict, then review the new item against each of them in turn.

Work through the list below until you find that they are clear of conflict through at least one Substantial Change (SC) or two Distinct Changes (DCs). 

If you reach the end of the list without finding an SC or two DCs, the items conflict and the new one can not be registered without permission to conflict. (A5H)

First, identify the charge groups in each piece of armory. (A3D)

If one piece of armory has a primary charge and the other doesn’t, that’s an SC. (A5E1)

If there is a primary charge group, any of the following changes to it is an SC:

  • Type of all charges are substantially different? (A5E2)
  • Number of charges is substantially different (1, 2, 3, more than 3)? (A5E3)
  • Arrangement of charges is substantially different? (A5E4)
  • Posture or orientation of charges is substantially different? (A5E5)

If there is no primary charge group, any of the following changes to the field is an SC:

  • One field is divided and the other is undivided? (A5F1a)
  • Direction of lines of division has changed? (Number of lines doesn’t count.) (A5F1b)
  • No tinctures in common? Or for divisions into two, three, or four pieces, each section has changed and each item has at least one tincture the other does not? (A5F2)

For the field, each of the following is a DC — however, if there is a primary charge group, you can only get one DC for the field regardless of how many changes there are:

  • Is either item (or both) fieldless? (A5G1e)
  • Tincture changed for at least half of the field? (But if divided into more than four parts, swapping or rotating tinctures does not grant a DC.) (A5G1a)
  • Direction of line of division has changed? (A5G1b)
  • Style of partition line has changed? (A5G1c)
  • Number of pieces is different (1, 2, 3, 4, more than 4)? (A5G1d)

For each of the charge groups, each of the following is a DC:

  • Entire charge group has been added or removed? (A5G2)
  • Type of charge changed for at least half of the group? (A5G4)
  • Tincture changed for at least half of the group? (A5G3a)
  • Addition of division line, or change in direction, style, or number of pieces (1, 2, 3, 4, more than 4)? (A5G3b, A5G3c, A5G3d)
  • Number of charges is different (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, more than 5)? (A5G5)
  • Arrangement of charges in the group is different (and it wasn’t forced by contrast rules)? (A5G6)
  • Posture or orientation of the charges is different? (A5G7)

This checklist is also available as a PDF file or as a high-resolution PNG.

See also: A more-detailed guide that includes visual examples of each of these types of checks is found in Master Modar’s 2015 conflict-checking guide on Calontir’s heraldry site.

Complex Lines Quick Reference

I keep forgetting which complex lines are considered to conflict with each other, so I put together this quick-reference guide in hopes that a visual presentation would help it to sink in.


The edges of field divisions and ordinaries may use any of these complex line styles, with a few exceptions.

Plain lines predominate, but the other styles whose names are underlined are also fairly common in period.

Groups of lines separated by a dotted border are considered to be sufficiently different to have a DC.

Available as a PDF file or as a high-resolution PNG.