University of Lincoln Coat of Arms

The University was presented with Letters Patent granting it its coat of arms at the inaugural meeting of the University Court on Saturday 18 June 2011.

Coat of arms 

Description and Heraldic Symbolism

The Arms

On a white shield there is a blue reversed pall (like an upside-down Y). At the top of the shield are two books, and at the bottom a wheatsheaf.

Rationale: The reversed pall is a representation of rivers and canals, so important to the history of Lincoln, and the wider county. The reversed Y shape symbolizes the conjunction of different bodies that formed the university, the junction of river and canal, and also the joint creative endeavour typified by the university. The shape is a powerful one, with a strong upward and thus forward momentum. It can be taken to signify being based firmly upon roots, and history, but looking forward to the future and modernity.

The books to either side represent learning and knowledge: the learning of the past to one side, and that of the future to the other. Books have for centuries been a heraldic symbol of learning and universities.

The wheatsheaf at the foot of the shield shows how the county is rooted in agricultural endeavour. It also refers to growth, to harvest (hence results); and this device also appeared in the Arms of the Parts of Holland and Parts of Lindsey, formerly administrative divisions of Lincolnshire.


On the top of a gothic tower, a peregrine falcon.

Rationale: The tower is a visual reference to the towers of Lincoln Cathedral, and thus to the history of the City, and of ecclesiastical learning there. It also refers to culture more generally. The prospect from the top of a tower alludes to strength of vision, to adventure. The peregrine falcon alludes to the birds which nest in the tower, but also to strength and flight, so important to Lincolnshire as RAF County. The falcon also represents far sightedness and preparedness for office or important work.


To either side of the shield, a swan, that to the left looking right, that to the right looking left, and each holding in their beak a fleur de lys.

Rationale: The swan is a reference to the fauna of Lincolnshire and alludes to St Hugh of Lincoln. It is a strong, self-confident and graceful bird, which typically mates for life. The two swans here are in partnership to support the shield. The fleur de lys is a stylized flower related to the iris and lily, the latter of which in particular are associated with water. Its use here alludes to the coat of Arms of the City of Lincoln; this itself probably refers to the Cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It long predates heraldry and is found in many cultures around the world and for millennia. It symbolizes the history of world cultures, and internationalism.


A fleur de lys intertwined with an embattled annulet (rather like a cogwheel).

Rationale: The symbolism of the fleur de lys, and its importance in relation to the Arms of the City of Lincoln, is mentioned above. The embattled annulet or cogwheel refers to the engineering heritage and history of Lincoln; more widely to industry, commerce. Symbolically the device can be taken to mean work and endeavour.


‘Libertas per Sapientiam´ which means ‘Through Wisdom, Liberty’. Wisdom resonates with Minerva as the Roman Goddess of Wisdom, while Liberty refers, among other things, to intellectual freedom and resonates with the presence of one of the four remaining original 1215 versions of the Magna Carta in the City of Lincoln.

Further Information

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Elly Sample -