Coat of Arms

Each part of our Coat of Arms has a meaning and it is useful to understand the significance of each of these heraldic elements

The University's Coat of Arms was drawn by T​he College of Arms, which​ is the official heraldic authority for England, Wales, Northern Ireland. 

The University Coat of Arms is often mistakenly called a crest, but the crest is in fact only a specific element of the Coat of Arms such as the ship, the shield, or the supporters, which in this case is the pelican or the golden hind.

<p>University of Plymouth coat of arms</p>
<p>University of Plymouth shield<br></p>

The Coat of Arms explained

Each part of our Coat of Arms has a meaning and it is useful to understand the significance of each of these heraldic elements. 

The Shield

Our shield comprises a blue background with two fesses in gold, based on the shape of an open book, representing the University's focus on learning and scholarship. The top and bottom sections feature white estoiles (a scattering of small stars). The estoiles represent navigation which has played a key role in the history of the city and of the University, where the School of Navigation formed the cornerstone of education developments.

Estoiles feature in the shield of Sir Francis Drake, a major historical figure in Plymouth. They also afford an indirect reference to Lady Astor, the first woman MP (for Plymouth Devonport) who bequeathed her house on The Hoe to the City. ​

The central section of the shield features escallops (scallop shells), representing pilgrimage in Gold. This draws from the shield of Sir John Hawkins, another Plymothian seafarer, and the maritime heritage, and also makes reference to the Pilgrim Fathers who left England for the last time from Plymouth. Graduates leaving the University might also be said to be undertaking a pilgrimage of discovery in search of success and satisfaction.

Supporters

A pelican and a golden hind, reflecting both the original and the later, better-known name of Sir Francis Drake's ship.

Crest

A Lymphad (sailing ship) in full sail, coloured in gold, with red pennants and the design of the shield replicated on the sail.

The Motto

A quotation from Samuel Langhorne Clemens rendered in Latin: Explore. Dream. Discover."

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." 

Better known by his pen name of Mark Twain, Samuel Langhorne Clemens was the author of several novels, including two classics of American Literature: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Clemens was also a riverboat pilot (his pen name was inspired by a shout of the Mississippi boatmen as they navigated the river), a journalist, a lecturer, an entrepreneur and an inventor. It is fitting that our University derives its motto from a figure of accomplishment across such broad fields of endeavour.