– notes, frequently asked questions and useful links from the archivist and curator of manuscripts at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Opinions expressed are the author's own.

Q & A – heraldry

Q: Why are there so many different forms of the Balliol arms? Isn’t the present shield a 19th century invention? And what’s that complicated shield over the front gate on Broad Street? It’s not Balliol.

A: There are indeed several different heraldic configurations in and around the college. The current college shield was only used consistently (though not exclusively!) by the college from 1900 , but it certainly isn’t a 19th century invention – it’s on the reverse of Dervorguilla’s own seal – here, as attached to her Statutes of 1282.

For more information on Balliol heraldry, please see the College Arms page on our website.

The shield that appears over the Broad Street entrance and several times in the front quad is that of Miss Hannah Brackenbury, Benefactor of the College, who paid for the Broad Street and Trinity ranges of the front quad to be rebuilt in the late 19th century. See our page on the Brackenbury arms.

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