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Raising the flag for St Andrews

An event known as ‘the Olympics of genealogy and heraldry’ will literally bring St Andrews to a standstill when it descends upon the town next week.

The University town will find itself awash with colour and pageantry when the international event heralds its arrival to Fife. Around 300 heraldic experts and aficionados from across the globe will gather in what will be the greatest single gathering of heralds since the Middle Ages.

Delegates and heralds from twenty- six countries including South Africa, Russia, Canada, Spain and Norway are expected to be represented during the event, which will be officially opened by its patron HRH The Princess Royal. Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, George Reid MSP, meanwhile will deliver the plenary address on ‘Myth and propaganda in public life’.

The International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences (21st-26th August) is a biennial event. This, the 27th Congress, will involve a week-long series of lectures and events at the University of St Andrews. To mark the event, the Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland, Robin Blair, will grant supporters (Saint Andrew and a lion) and a crest to the University to add to its arms.

The University and the Burgh of St Andrews will also be presented with keepsakes in the form of specially created heraldic processional banners, ‘gonfannons’, which will be blessed by The Bishop of Edinburgh and presented during the opening ceremony.

A truly home-grown effort, the University’s banner was designed on the kitchen table of congress organiser Mark Dennis. Thereafter it was crafted and appliquéd in the sitting rooms of members of the Dundee Embroiderers Guild.

Mark, Secretary General to the organising committee, lives in St Andrews, and he and the Organising Committee have been planning the event for the last four years.

He said: “This event will be singular and quite unusually memorable event given its historic significance. It will be the first time since the Middle Ages that heralds of several countries have met together in State and will be a colourful affair with the University’s traditional robes and maces intermingling with state dress, civic robes, tabards and armorial banners. The heralds of South Africa will arrive with their new arms, which are designs derived from cave paintings. Indeed, many of the heralds will be meeting for the first time.

“Contrary to what people might think, heraldry is not a dead subject but is actually a growth industry – for example, more arms have been recorded in the last 50 years than the previous 300 years. Also, the law of arms is changing, with more women now in traditionally male-dominated roles being granted or inheriting their own arms. It is no longer just a subject of antiquarian interest.”

The event hasn’t been held in Scotland for forty-four years, with Edinburgh being the last Scottish host city in 1962. That event was patroned by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh; this year’s patron The Princess Royal will be presented with a painting of her arms in Scottish form to mark the event. Meanwhile, during the week, specialist heraldry artists will be working on creating heraldic mythical beasts for the conference.

The theme of the conference this year is ‘Myth and Propaganda in Heraldry and Genealogy’, and the week will involve a series of over fifty lectures on the subjects in and around the University. Highlights include a lecture by the University’s Dr Katie Stevenson on Royal propaganda in medieval Scotland. Further subjects to be explored include Roman papal heraldry, corporate heraldry in finance, funeral heraldry and English heralds, myths and legends.

Members of the public are invited to attend the free Family History and Heraldry Fair on Wednesday 23rd August for one day only at the Younger Hall. The heraldic and genealogical exhibition “Who Do You Think You Are?” mounted by the St Andrews Museum is also open to the public now until 3rd September.

The conference is co-sponsored by The Heraldry Society of Scotland and the Scottish Genealogy Society. For further information visit the official website: www.congress2006.com

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS:

MEDIA ATTENDANCE AT EITHER EVENT AT THE YOUNGER HALL ON MONDAY 21ST AUGUST 2006 IS BY PRIOR ARRANGEMENT ONLY – CONTACT THE PRESS OFFICE ON 01334 467227 TO ARRANGE ACCREDITATION.

Timings for the day are as follows:

1pm: Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, George Reid MSP, will deliver the plenary address ‘Myth and propaganda in public life’ at the Younger Hall, North Street, St Andrews.

3-4pm Official opening ceremony, attended by HRH The Princess Royal, also at the Younger Hall.

4pm onwards: Procession of entire assembly from the Younger Hall through the town to Parliament Hall, South Street, St Andrews, where a civic reception will be held.

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS:

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE CONGRESS CONTACT MARK DENNIS ON 01334 474740 OR GORDON CASELY ON 01224 647927.

Issued by Beattie Media – www.beattiegroup.com On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st- andrews.ac.uk Ref: Raising the flag 170806.doc View the latest University press releases at http://www.st- andrews.ac.uk

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