Names and Coats of Arms

At SCA events, we like to pretend we’re somewhere in medieval Europe, and in order to do that, we use medieval names as well as medieval outfits. There’s no need to pick a name straight away – and lots of modern names, like John or Maria, were used ‘in period’ anyway. But sooner or later, you’ll probably want to pick an ‘SCA name’.

Where do I start?

The easiest thing to do is either start with a name you like, and look for a time and place it was used, or start with a time and place, and pick out something from that time. Be aware that you may not be able to get your first choice of name, because of the two main rules of name registration:

  • Each part of the name, and the way they’re put together, have to be documented to have existed in the same time and place, within the period we cover.
  • Each complete name (first name and last name together) registered in the SCA has to be different to every name that’s already been registered.
  • We recommend that you talk to a friendly herald (names & devices expert) before you make any final decisions. You can contact our baronial herald at

What does ‘registration’ mean?

We have a Society-wide College of Arms which evaluates, approves, and records all the names and devices in the SCA. This is NOT compulsory, but it is something most people do eventually.

What’s a ‘device’?

A device is the thing you think of when you hear ‘coat of arms’: a colourful design painted on a shield that represents an individual, group, place, or family. (If you receive an Award of Arms, your device is called your ‘arms’ from that point onward.) In the SCA, everyone is encouraged to choose a personal device and register it with the College of Arms. It’s a fun way to add to your personal display, and you can put your device on a shield, a banner, and lots of other items. You can also register a ‘badge’, which is similar to a device, but is generally used to label things associated with you rather than to represent you in particular. Your device/arms/badge are sometimes called your ‘heraldry’.

Who can I ask for help?

The SCA College of Arms has branches in every group, and its officers are called ‘heralds’. They learn the rules and regulations of our name and device registration system so they can help people like you pick out heraldry to use. If you’ve got any questions about names and devices, you can ask our Baronial Herald at