Some Further Early Orkney Armorials
1771, 1757, Roman
Almost all of the armorials are in stone and they almost all come from the sixteenth or early seventeenth century. They include a number which for many years had been hidden beneath the raised floor of the choir of St Magnus' Cathedral and have only recently come to light. The include the Cragy coat on the ancient font now in Stromness Episcopal Church, and one found beneath the floor of the Birsay Parish Kirk, now built into the wall of the vestibule. All the others come from St Magnus Cathedral'. The impression is that arms-bearing in Orkney was on something like the same basis as in Norway; an arbitrary system under which some landowners were "af vaaben" and others were not; the privilege being originally associated with a certain\r\nposition in the Kings or Earl's "hird," and always having remained the subject of special grant or of some kind of sanction. In Scotland the terms " gentleman" and " freeholder" are used synonymously in old statutes, and each member of this class seems to have been expected, as a matter of obligation as much as of privilege, to have the " seale of his armes " ready for use when required.