Francis Thynne, Lancaster herald, wrote in 1605 that ‘in ancient time’ heraldic arms were ‘the peculiar reward and honour of military service’. If one looks back to those beautiful products of heraldic art, the English rolls of arms of the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, they offer eloquent confirmation of this statement. A high proportion of them are occasional rolls – rolls, that is to say, recording the arms of warriors who mustered for particular hosts, or took part in particular and known tournaments. Thus we have the Falkirk Roll, blazoning the arms of English knights and bannerets present at the battle of Falkirk, 22 July 1298; the Galloway Roll, blazoning the arms of 259 knights who were with King Edward I on his Scottish campaign of 1300; the Stirling Roll blazoning the arms of knights present at the siege of Stirling in 1304; and the first and second Dunstable Rolls, blazoning the arms of those who engaged in two tournaments at Dunstable, a traditional tourneying site, in 1308 and 1334.2 This is by no means an inclusive list of the ‘occasional’ rolls of this period. Taken all together, they emphasise vividly and visually the strong association of heraldic insignia with battle and tournament in this age, and the martial quality of secular aristocratic culture.
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