This map records the location of public images of Leith's Coat of Arms.
"Leith's Coat of Arms were granted on 27 February 1889. They show the Virgin and Child seated in a ship with a
cloud above. The parish church of South Leith is dedicated to St. Mary, and the ship is for the port and its
sea-going trade. The significance of the cloud is not clear; it appears that, during the discussions about the
Grant of arms, the Town Clerk's suggestion that what appeared above the Virgin's head (and the ship) in an
impression of an old Burgh seal was a protecting cloud, was accepted by Lord Lyon Burnett."
This form of the Leith arms has not been without controversy. The Marquess of Bute, co-author of The Arms of the
Royal and Parliamentary Burghs of Scotland (1897), took great exception, saying: "We know of no case whatsoever in
which the sacred Mother and Son are represented as being 'under a cloud' – an idea which we must stigmatise as being
in itself peculiarly offensive … The artist who executed the official drawing … has added the further offence of not
representing the cloud by the conventional convolutions prescribed for this subject by the customs of ages … but
as a peculiar rounded and knobbly object, something like a small bolster knocked out of shape.
It is interesting to see the ways in which examples of the Arms differ:
Some depict an anchor (e.g. the one in Nobles Bar), while others do not (e.g. the ones outside Carriers Quarters).
In some cases both flags at the top of the masts point to the left (e.g. the one at Granton Station), in others they point to the right (e.g. the one at site of the former Western General Hospital). In both examples outside Carriers Quarters each flag points a different way.
In some examples the two folded sails point down towards the centre (e.g. as in the official form), in others they both point up towards the centre (e.g. the one on the former Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland building in Glasgow). In the Merchant Marine Memorial example, both sails appear to point upwards in parallel.
Most examples include the word 'Persevere', but some do not (e.g. the one on the gates of the former Leith Town Hall).
Some include additional text, typically 'LEITH' or 'SIGILLUM OPPIDI DE LEITH', the Seal of the Town of Leith. Some include the year 1563, the significance of which is not entirely clear.
The example above the Roseleaf Bar is particularly impressive as it is more of a scene than a Coat of Arms and includes an image of the Signal Tower.
Please get in touch with us at email@example.com if you know of any other examples we can add to our map.