“Heraldry is the fusion of fact and fancy, myth and manner, romance and reality. It is an exuberant union of family, art, and history.”
–Charles Burnett and Mark Dennis in The Lion Rejoicing (1997)
The opening statement of the wikipedia article on Heraldry describes it as “a broad term, encompassing the design, display, and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, rank, and pedigree.”
In the SCA, Heraldry is split into 3 main streams:
As the Lochac College of Heralds website puts it:
Heralds in the Society for Creative Anachronism have many jobs. We are fondly called book heralds, helping to research period naming and armorial practices for the registration of names and armory for the populace. We are voice heralds, calling announcements, proclaiming who is fighting upon the field, and acting as the voice of nobility in court. We are protocol heralds, recording awards and honours bestowed, drafting ceremonies, and determining precedence and other period legal niceties in all sorts of situations. We also work closely with our good friends in the College of Scribes, whose art and artistry with pen and brush make what we do beautiful. Anyone can be a herald. You can be a herald!
Book Heraldry is the research and registration of reasonably authentic pre-17th century names and armorials.
One of the requirements of attending an SCA Event is having a “medieval-sounding” name that we can call you. Some people just enjoy using whatever medievalish name that comes to mind, but for those interested in establishing a name that fits historical naming conventions, the SCA College of Arms will register names, as well as heraldic devices and badges, that meet their standard of historical practice.
You can find out more about Society Armorial Heraldry from the College of Arms website.
You can specifically learn about the registration process with this short guide.