"The Scottish system of heraldry is well controlled and is reckoned to be the purest in the world", so states Alastair Campbell of Airds, the Chief Executive of Clan Campbell who, as Unicorn Pursuivant, is also one of the Officers of Arms for Scotland.
The senior herald of Scotland is the Lord Lyon King of Arms.
Lyon is the Monarch's Supreme Officer of Honour in Scotland. He is also a Judge of the Realm and is responsible, among many other duties, for adjudication of the succession to the Chiefship of clans when in question, the only official recognition given to clans in Scottish law.
In an article in the United States Scots magazine "The Highlander, Airds continues; "For those who reckon heraldry to be out of date, it is interesting to note that the last thirty years have seen more grants of arms by Lyon than in the whole of the preceding period back to 1672. Heraldry is alive and very well in Scotland".
In commenting upon those who are eligible for arms, Campbell states "... Lyon may entertain petitions (for arms) of any Scotsman - or woman - who is of good standing and can show that they have contributed to the life of the community."
"It is also possible for American Scots to apply for arms. These may be granted if the petitioner can prove his or her descent - in the male line - from a Scottish ancestor born or living in Scotland, or from one born or living in Canada. Those who can prove descent from an ancestor in the male line living in the American colonies before the Revolution are also eligible. This requires genealogical proofs sufficient to stand scrutiny in a Court of Law."
"The arms are actually granted to the ancestor with a suitable difference then added for the petitioner, unless he is the ancestor's heir in which case he inherits the un-differenced form of the arms."
The cost of a new grant of arms is not inexpensive; about one thousand pounds sterling. However if the petitioner can prove descent in the male line from a previous owner of arms, then these arms are awarded with a suitable difference and the cost is reduced to about four hundred pounds. The services of an officer of arms is not included in these figures.
You may see a man's arms displayed in different ways. During his lifetime his eldest son or grandson may display his father's or grandfather's arms with a `label' for difference. A wife may display her husband's arms upon an oval alone or beside those of her father. A daughter or granddaughter may display the arms of her paternal father or grandfather on an oval. Younger sons are obliged to petition for the arms of their armigerous father with a mark of difference.
There are endless and handsome ways in which arms may be displayed, whether on book plates, buildings, furniture, quilts, writing paper or vehicles.
Alastair Campbell of Airds, as Unicorn Pursuivant, has very kindly offered to process the petition for arms of any member of a Clan Campbell Society who has their proofs in order. This means complete ducumentation in terms of copies of all original sources.