Themes in South African heraldry


IN any collection of coats of arms, certain themes crop up again and again. This is true of heraldry in any country, but it is perhaps surprising how often some themes recur in the arms of South African institutions.

These pages will start with a few, and hopefully grow to reflect a wide range of themes that are found in South African armory.

Cape of Good Hope crest East London Venda Uitenhage

Anchors and the lady Hope

Birds and feathers

Books – symbols of learning and of faith

Grahamstown leopard East London buffalo Gauteng lion North West sable antelope

Buck and other ungulates

Cats of the wild variety

Creatures of the sea

Crosses – many kinds of crosses


Northern Cape Free State Sunridge Primary Eastern Cape


Farm animals


Stellenbosch University Hoërskool Despatch Pietermaritzburg Presbyterian Church of South Africa


Human and near-human figures

Mountains, especially Table Mountain

Kingswood College Rhodes University Lawson Brown High Fort Hare University

Mythical and fantastical creatures


The sun

Van Riebeeck Grahamstown Limpopo crest of Stellenbosch


Van Riebeeck (Van Riebeeck family)


South Africa South Africa

This website is proud to be South African

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This website set up and maintained by Mike Oettle

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