Armorial Bearings


The Armorial Bearings of the Institution of Civil Engineers



The Armorial Bearings of the Institution of Civil Engineers framed with tape and glass. The bearings are complemented by a written description.

It is understood that the item was recovered from the offices of Mott, Hay and Anderson at 14 Melville Street, Edinburgh upon its closure (c. 1968).

The text on the print is as follows:


WHEN the Institution was granted a Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1828 the representation of Smeaton’s Eddystone lighthouse was chosen for use as the corporate seal, this symbol being replaced after Thomas Telford’s death in 1834 by a profile of the first President made by W. Wyon, A.R.A. It was not until the year 1912 that the grant of a Coat of Arms was sought, the occasion being the transfer of the headquarters of the Institution to its present building, which bears over the main entrance the arms which were assigned to it in March, 1913, by the College of Arms.

As was not uncommon at this period, in the case of a corporate body such as the Institution, the grant was confined to a shield bearing

“Or on a Pale Azure between two Annulets in fesse Sable a Thunder-bolt between in Chief a Sun in Splendour of the first and in base a Fountain proper.”

Thus the natural forces of heat, electricity and water were symbolized respectively by the sun, thunderbolt and fountain, the annulets representing the science of mathematics by the aid of which the engineer exercises his art with skill.
The arms in this form, together with the motto “Scientia et Ingenio,” will be familiar to members, for until this month they have been reproduced on the cover of the Journal and a number of other publications which have been issued from time to time by the Institution.
In recent years the tendency has increased for corporate bodies to bear full arms, as in the case of those granted lately to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and to the Institution of Electrical Engineers, and the Council decided to seek authority for the addition of supporters and ti a crest in compliance with this development. Accordingly these were assigned to the Institution by the College of Arms in February of this year.

The supporters are defined in the grant as

“On the dexter side a Beaver and on the sinister side a Crane both proper.”

The choice of these two creatures is particularly appropriate to civil engineering: the beaver because of its remarkable ingenuity and skill in constructing “lodges” of tree trunks, stones and mud for its habitation and of damming streams for preserving its water supply and the crane for having provided, from a fancied resemblance in form, the name of the machine used so extensively by civil engineers for raising and lowering weights. It may be noted in passing that the introduction of a play of words has always appealed to the herald in designing armorial bearings. The crane as depicted here is alto an heraldic symbol of vigilance, a quality of special significance to the Institution in its duties of regulating the qualifications for entry into the profession of civil engineering and of promoting the general advancement of engineering science.

The crest was defined in the grant as

“Upon a Billet fessewise Azure charged with a Fesse Way Argent a representation of the Eddystone Lighthouse upon Rocks proper.”

The adoption of the lighthouse, which was used in the original seal, needs no explanation beyond saying that its design and construction during the years 1757-59 was the principal work of John Smeaton, the first man to describe himself as a Civil Engineer.
The new Coat of Arms will in future be used on the covers of the publications issued by the Institution.

Additional information

Acquisition Number


Item Type

Short Description

Armorial Bearings of the Institution of Civil Engineers

Manufactured by

Date of Manufacture

c. 1950



Supporting Items


Makers Number




Dimensions (mm)

470 x 256


Date Donated

November 2015


Paper, hardboard, adhesive tape and glass


Fair (some limited staining)

Display Location