What is a Crest?

SurnameCrests Griffin Crest

A crest is the smaller image normally shown resting on the torse (or wreath) that sits on the helmet on a coat of arms. The torse or wreath appears as twisted cloth and will normally appear in alternating colours matching the colours as they appear on the coat of arms mantle.

The coat of arms torse colours comprise of one metallic colour; Gold (‘Or’ in heraldic terminology) or Silver (‘Argent’ in heraldry) and one colour (or ‘tincture’ as found in heraldry). The six heraldic colours are: Red (Gules), Blue (Azure), Green (Vert), Black (Sable) and the rarely used Purple (Purpure).

A Scottish or Irish Clan and Sept crest image will often appear on its own upon the torse within a strap or belt, as can other crests, such as those associated with surnames from England, Wales, Europe and others areas.

Crests were traditionally used as decorative sculptures worn by knights in tournaments and sometimes during battles.

The word ‘crest’ comes from the Latin word ‘crista’, which means ‘tuft’ or ‘plume’, and may be related to the word ‘crinis’, meaning ‘hair’. Also, the word ‘crest’ or ‘family crest’ is sometimes (incorrectly) used to describe a coat of arms.

Although this website focuses mainly on crests, we also supply coats of arms images. For convenience you can also order a non-instant coat of arms image from this website if also ordering a crest image. However, we recommend visiting our other websites at SurnameCoatsofArms.uk and SurnameShields.uk for instant downloads for many of the most popular surnames.