Supported by two green dragons.
Above the shield is a single lily
Scroll at top with the motto:
Dei Donum gift of God.
Following an Act of Parliament passed in 1672, Dundees new coat of arms was matriculated in the office of the Lord Lyon King of Arms on July 30th 1673.
It was a pot of 3 silver lilies on a blue shield supported by two green dragons. Above the shield was a single lily and above that a scroll with the motto Dei Donum gift of God.
Over the years small changes crept in until in 1932 the City Council decided to ask the Lord Lyon King of Arms about the correct form. Amongst other differences he pointed out that the dragons on the current coat of arms were actually wyverns. (Although closely related wyverns have only two legs while dragons have four.) The coat of arms above Eastern Cemetery gateway shows wyverns instead of dragons and three lilies above the shield instead of one. It was decided to go back to the original form with dragon supporters and one lily and to add a second motto Prudentia et Candore Wisdom and Truth.
The blue colour of the shield is said to represent the cloak of the Virgin Mary while the silver (white) lilies are also closely associated with her. This association between Dundee and the Virgin Mary is said to have arisen from a 12th century legend concerning David, Earl of Huntingdon. He was returning from the crusades when a storm arose and the ship was in danger. David prayed to the Virgin Mary and his prayers were answered when the harbour at Dundee came into view. The ship landed safely and, in gratitude, he caused a church to be built and dedicated to the Virgin.
There are several theories about why the dragons came to be used as supporters. My favourite one is that they evolved from the legend of the dragon that ate the nine maidens of Strathmartine. The story is one of a peasant farmer of Pitempton about 3 miles from Dundee who had nine daughters. One summer evening he sent the eldest to a nearby well for water. She did not return and, one by one, he sent her remaining sisters after her.
Eventually, having run out of daughters, he armed himself and set out to see what had happened. At the well he found the mangled remains of his daughters and beside them an enormous serpent.
He fled only to return with a large band of neighbours, among them Martin, the lover of one of the girls. The crowd attacked and the dragon fled first to Baldragon, a marshy area about a quarter of a mile away. It was then chased on about two more miles until Martin attacked it single-handed. The crowd encouraged him with cries of Strike Martin (the origin of the name Strathmartine).
Eventually the dragon was killed at Balkello. It is recorded as the last dragon to be killed in Scotland. There is a stone there bearing the outline of a serpent.
As an old rhyme says:
Tempted at Pitempton
Draigled at Baldragon
Stricken at Strathmartine
And killed at Martins Stane.
There are many examples of the coat of arms, in various forms, throughout Dundee.
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