In today’s guest post Dr Joseph J. Morrow, Lord Lyon King of Arms – head of the Lyon Court, a Scottish public body based at New Register House, and colleagues of NRS – looks at upcoming events being held to mark the 350th anniversary of this venerable Scottish institution…

Copyright: Army Communications.

The Court of the Lord Lyon is celebrating the 350th Anniversary of the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland this year.  The Public Register was established in 1672 by an Act of the Scottish Parliament and has been maintained and added to up to the present day by the Court.

The office of Lyon King of Arms dates from the 14th century.  The position may incorporate the much older Celtic office of royal Seanchaidh, or King’s Poet, with responsibility for keeping the royal genealogy and attending the inauguration (later coronation) of the King.

The Lord Lyon is the sole King of Arms in Scotland.  The Lord Lyon is Head of the Heraldic Executive in Scotland and is the Judge of the Court of the Lord Lyon which has jurisdiction over all heraldic business in Scotland.  The Lord Lyon is also responsible for State Ceremonial in Scotland.

In celebration of the Anniversary a series of lectures has been planned.  The events are free and will be hosted across Scotland to ensure as many as possible people are able to attend. 

Full details of all the lectures can be found here, at the 350th Anniversary Lectures on our website.

All welcome to attend.


Date:            Thursday, 3 March 2022
Venue:          Glasgow City Chambers, George Square, Glasgow G2 1DU
Time:            6:30 pm Registration, 7 pm Start, 8 pm to 9 pm Reception 

People Make Heraldry: Stories from the Lyon Register

Speaker: Rothesay Herald, Liam Devlin

From its creation by the Scottish Parliament 350 years ago in the reign of Charles II, the Lyon Register has contained all the coats of arms in legal use in Scotland. We might think of it as a national memorial cairn, each individual stone telling the history of a person or a place. The opening talk of our year-long series will tell some of these personal stories from the Register, some moving, some shocking, some almost farcical as people have tried over the centuries to mark their humble place in the national memory.

Register here via Eventbrite.


Date:            Tuesday, 8 March 2022
Venue:          The Highland Council, Inverness Town House, High Street, Inverness,              IV1 1JJ

Time:            6:30 pm Registration, 7 pm Start, 8 pm to 9 pm Reception


Heraldry – How and Why the Flowering?

Speaker: Gordon Casely, Heraldist and Journalist

When it comes to heraldry, Gordon Casely is an unashamed modernist who pushes forward with the present and the future. His lecture examines both the present, and some of the context that’s created this present. He reflects on both the rise in grants of arms across 21st-century Scotland, as well as the growing interest in heraldry.

He asks how and why this has occurred, and how arms have been put to use – and raises the dual questions of how we ensure that more people take up heraldry and gain arms. Or gain arms and then take up heraldry.

Register for this event here.


Date:            Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Venue:          Council Chamber, Town House, Broad Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1LP

Time:            6:30 pm Registration, 7 pm Start, 8 pm to 9 pm Reception

The Pride of Lyons

Speaker: Mark Dennis, Advocate and Armorist

For at least seven hundred years Scotland has always had two kings:  our Sovereigns, of course, but also their ‘familiar daylie servitour’, their Lord Lyon, King of Arms.  Still one of the great officers of state, our Lyons have managed royal and national ceremony, acted as ambassadors and headed the heraldic executive through the rise and fall of dynasties, interregna, and both foreign and civil wars.  Their stories are as varied and volatile as the times in which they served. This talk may be seen as a genial ‘photo safari’ of our Lyons across the broad savannah of Scots history from the, relative, safety of the 21st century.

Register here for this event.


Date:            Thursday, 28 April 2022
Venue:          City Chambers, High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1YJ

Time:            6:30 pm Registration, 7 pm Start, 8 pm to 9 pm Reception

Heraldry: An Egalitarian Tradition

Speaker: Linlithgow Pursuivant Extraordinary, Professor Gillian Black

This lecture will draw on a wealth of evidence from Humbie Kirkyard to Robert Burns, to make the case that Scottish Heraldry has always been an egalitarian tradition. Not solely the preserve of peers and dignitaries, heraldry in Scotland has been open to – and embraced by – all “vertuous and well-deserving Persones” for over 350 years.

Register here.


Date:            Thursday, 12 May 2022
Venue:          Moat Brae and Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, National Centre for Children’s          Literature and Storytelling, 101 George Street, Dumfries, DG1 1EA
Time:            6:30 pm Registration, 7 pm Start, 8 pm to 9 pm Reception


Stories in Scotland’s Skies

Speaker: March Pursuivant Extraordinary, Philip Tibbetts

Flags have a particularly emotive connection to the people of a community. They may be easy to see as primarily graphical images but, whilst this gives them their potency to communicate, the power of the message being conveyed comes from its symbolism. That potent symbolism in flags may be intentionally incorporated into the design or become associated with it subsequently over time. The stories captured in this symbolism will be explored from the well-known legend of the Saltire, recorded at the start of the Lyon Court’s register 350 years ago, right through to development of modern community flags.

Register for this event here.


Date:            Tuesday, 14 June 2022
Venue:          Civic Office, Perth and Kinross Council, 2 High Street, Perth, PH1 5PH
Time:            6:30 pm Registration, 7 pm Start, 8 pm to 9 pm Reception

A Messenger’s Mission

Speaker: Unicorn Pursuivant, Roderick Macpherson

Messengers-at-Arms are admitted to office by the Lord Lyon and sign the same roll as all the other officers of arms. As Honorary President of their professional association, Dr. Morrow personally maintains Lyon Court’s very close connection with the oldest category of officers always to have been appointed by Lyon. The Society of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers, which is the professional association, was founded on 12th June 1922, and its first President was the eminent messenger in Perth. This is why the Society’s current Honorary Secretary, Unicorn Pursuivant, chose to speak in Perth, on this centenary celebration of the founding of the Society of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers. 

Register here.


Events for the second half of the year will be published at the end of February.

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