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Civic heraldry of the United Kingdom

Overseas possessions

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Incorporated into : 1975 Moray District Council (1996 Moray Area Council)

Arms (crest) of Burghead

Official blazon

Per fess Argent and Gules, a bar wreathed Or and Azure, between a beacon Sable in flames of the Second upon a hill Vert issuant from the bar, all in chief, and in base a bull passant contournee of the Third.

The Shield ensigned of a coronet proper to a Burgh.


The arms were granted on August 10, 1957.

Burghead stands on a headland named "Promontorium Taurodunum" in Ptolemy's Map of the British Isles and in a bog, during excavations for harbour improvements, over thirty ancient stone carvings of bulls were found there, as well as remains of what may have been a Mithraic temple.

The arms, which follow closely the device on the Burgh seal, have the old silver and red colours of Moray. The flaming beacon recalls the annual "Burning of the Clavie", an age-old tradition observed each year at Burghead on Old New Year's Eve; the wreath bar in the gold and blue of Orkney, the Norse borg founded there in 880 by Jarl Sigurd of Orkney; the bull, the name given by Ptolemy to the headland on which the town is built; and its gold colour, the Mithraic practice of sacrificing bulls to the sun.

The red and gold colours in the base could also allude to the Sutherland family whose stronghold, Duffus Castle, is in the immediate vicinity and was once the home of Freskinus de Moravia, one of the famed warriors of King David I.

seal of Burghead

Seal of the burgh as used in the 1890s

Literature : Porteous, 1906; Urquhart, 1974 Scotland.jpg