The 27th International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences held at St Andrews over the period 21–26 August 2006, was opened by its Patron, H.R.H. The Princess Royal, L.G., L.T., G.C.V.O., in a splendid opening ceremony. Her Majesty’s Scottish and English officers of arms (Clarenceux, Rouge Dragon, and Fitzalan) in their uniforms (only Lord Lyon in tabard), four Scottish private pursuivants and several heralds of other nations in their new purpose-made tabards provided spectacular heraldic pageantry when they processed through the Royal Burgh of St Andrews after the opening.
In the actual lecture programme several excellent papers highlighted various aspects of the congress theme ‘myth and propaganda in heraldry and genealogy’. Among the most interesting papers were ‘Penyston, Hatton, and three English Kings of Arms in search of quarterings’ by Clive Cheesman, Rouge Dragon; ‘Heralds, myths, and legends in 16th and 17th century England and Wales’ by Adrian Ailes; ‘Royal Propaganda: Snowdon Herald and the cult of chivalry in late Medieval Scotland’ by Dr Katie Stevenson; ‘Confirmation of Irish arms’ by Micheál Ó Comáin, Chief Herald of Ireland; and ‘Myth and fraud in peerage claims’ by Hugh Peskett.
The congress delegates also had the opportunity to view many fine examples of modern heraldic art in the heraldic artists’ workshop. Marco Foppoli, probably best known for his striking armorial bookplates (www.marcofoppoli.com), and Ronny Andersen, Danish Royal Herald Painter, deserve a special mention among the younger generation of heraldic artists.
Family history and heraldry fair offered a good opportunity to get some more weight to one’s luggage. In scholarly terms perhaps the weightiest ‘must buys’ were the handsome and moderately priced volumes of the new Heraldry Society of Scotland armorial series: Scots armorials from earliest times to the start of the eighteenth century or Aspilogia Scoticana by Alex Maxwell Findlater; The Dunvegan Armorial (1582), edited by John and Eilean Malden; and The Dublin Armorial of Scottish Nobility (1592–3), edited by Leslie Hodgson. Clearly the Heraldry Society (of England) must do something drastic if it intends to keep up with pace of the Scottish industriousness!
The small, but informative and well-illustrated book, Who do you think you are?: Heraldry and genealogy in modern Scotland, edited by Gordon Casely and published by the Congress, accompanied the exhibition of the same name in St Andrews Museum. Besides various essays the book includes the exhibition catalogue. One of the highlights of the exhibition was undoubtedly the new crown of the Lord Lyon King of Arms – normally exhibited in Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh – which replaced in 2002 the English kings of arms’ crown, used by the Lord Lyons after the disappearance of the original in the early eighteenth century. Among other items of interest was the premature hatchment of Peter Drummond-Murray of Mastrick, Slains Pursuivant, who remains very much alive, but wants ‘just to be prepared’.
The non-academic programme included Edinburgh Military Tattoo (though otherwise a splendid spectacle, its proper military character was somewhat disconcerted by a Chinese Kung Fu martial arts group with their red flags and a gospel choir comprising of African orphans), another separate excursion to Edinburgh, whisky tasting, and Scottish country dancing.
For those of us whom the six congress days did not offer enough heraldry, the post-congress tour, organised by Alex Maxwell Findlater and Leslie Hodgson, offered a perfect opportunity to see not only a great number of ruins but also some better preserved parts of Scotland’s heraldic heritage, including a number of heraldic ceilings via the route Dundee-Aberdeen-Elgin-Perth-Edinburgh. Among the heraldic highlights of the tour were the heraldic ceiling of St Machar’s Cathedral in Aderdeen (1520) and the monument of the first Marquess of Atholl (d. 1703) in Dunkeld Cathedral; other senses were treated at a reception given by the Lord Provost of Aberdeen and during a visit to a Highland whisky distillery. The best parts of Scotland were united at the end of the tour at Broomhall where Lord Elgin not only showed us his heraldic family treasures but also offered us special single malt whisky.
Special thanks for a successful congress are due to Mark D. Dennis, Secretary General of the Congress (and the newly elected Secretary General of the Bureau Permanent of the Congress) and Charles J. Burnett, Ross Herald, Congress President, and all the volunteers. The next congress will be held in Quebec City, 23–28 June 2008, and the theme will be ‘The Meeting of Two Worlds: Quest or Conquest’. For information, see:
Contact Officers of the Society by e-mail.
Cambridge University Heraldic and Genealogical Society