Heralds in the SCA perform a number of vastly different jobs. Some heralds will do all of them, others are specialists in their fields, some will only want to be involved in one aspect of what the SCA calls “heraldry”.
Heraldry can be divided into two traditionally separate areas; Book Heraldry and Voice Heraldry.
Book Heralds are the studious folk who help submitters register a name or device with the College of Arms. They’ll assist in getting your paperwork in order, or simply help you design a device that you like. Consulting heralds are experienced in the Rules of Submission – at least to some degree – and are the best people to talk to when you want to get something registered. They will help you choose a suitable name or device, and aid in checking to make certain your ideas don’t conflict with already registered names and devices.
An “Armourial” herald is one who is well versed in the “do’s and don’ts” of designing devices or badges, while those who deal with names are called “Onomastic” heralds. Often, an onomastic herald will specialise in the naming practices of one specific culture or time period.
“Protocol” heralds are book heralds who specialise in the ceremonial aspects of heraldry. These are the heralds who are maintaining the Order of Precedence, or ensuring the correct order during Processionals. They’ll be able to tell you which Shire should come before another when walking into court, or on which side of court the visiting Tanist of Avacal should sit.
Voice Heralds can be found crying the camp making announcements, on the tournament field announcing the pairings or the victor, or standing behind the thrones at court. Each of these jobs are different, but all require some public speaking. The first two (“Field” and “Tourney”) are fairly simple, and don’t require a lot of training or preparation work. Court heralds are usually more experienced Voice heralds, but are always looking for help or someone to teach.
It is important to remember however, that very few heralds will be experts in all of these things. Some branch heralds are better administrators than they are book heralds, but will know exactly who to ask to do a specific job. Many book heralds will turn as green as their tabards if asked to stand up in public and make announcements.
Your best, first contact is your branch herald. Ask your Seneschal if you don’t know who your herald is. If your branch doesn’t have a herald, contact Silver Yale at firstname.lastname@example.org, who can help find the right herald for you.
If you’re looking for a specific Principality Herald, or know what kind of heraldic help you need, go to the Tir Righ Heraldic Staff page.
Ping! You’re a herald. Anyone who is interested in any of the amazing things heralds do can be – is – a herald. It’s that simple. Being a good one takes some practice, and depends a lot on what you want to do. The best thing to do is to talk to another herald, and offer to help. Come to the Heralds’ meetings at Coronet events; they’re open to anyone interested.