Orientation and Arrangement of Heraldic Charges

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     Heraldic charges can be oriented in different directions. Obviously, roundels and annulets are unaffected by rotations and reflections, and other charges have different symmetries which render some of the positions identical to each other. In such cases, the simplest description is used. Since the key has no lines or points of symmetry, all 16 of the basic orientations are different, as shown below.





palewise reversed

palewise inverted

palewise inverted and reversed






fesswise reversed

fesswise inverted

fesswise inverted and reversed






bendwise reversed

bendwise inverted

bendwise inverted and reversed





bendwise sinister

bendwise sinister reversed

bendwise sinister inverted

bendwise sinister inverted and reversed




     Different arrangements of charges become possible when more than one is present. If three charges are placed on a shield, the default arrangement is "two and one". Any other arrangement would be specified. In a similar manner, charges in a bend are oriented bendwise by default, and those in a bend sinister are oriented bendwise sinister. Any other orientation would need to be specified, such as "three gouts palewise in bend".






= combatant for rampant beasts

= respectant for beasts in other postures

addorsed and linked at base

in saltire

in saltire inverted

reversed in saltire

three gouts,

two and one

three gouts,

one and two

three gouts in pale

three gouts in fess

three gouts in bend

three gouts palewise in bend


Basics of Heraldry