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Supporters

In heraldry, supporters, sometimes referred to as attendants, are figures or objects usually placed on either side of the shield and depicted holding it up.

Early forms of supporters are found in medieval seals. However, unlike the coronet or helmet and crest, supporters were not part of early medieval heraldry. As part of the heraldic achievement, they first become fashionable towards the end of the 15th century, but even in the 17th century were not necessarily part of the full heraldic achievement (being absent, for example, in Siebmachers Wappenbuch of 1605).

 

The figures used as supporters may be based on real or imaginary animals, human figures, and in rare cases plants or other inanimate objects, such as the pillars of Hercules of the coat of arms of Spain. Often, as in other elements of heraldry, these can have local significance, such as the fisherman and the tin miner granted to Cornwall County Council, or a historical link; such as the lion of England and unicorn of Scotland in the two variations of the Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.