In the SCA there are three main types of Heraldry done by the Heraldic officers. Although Canton levels, or the regional area, officers normally only do one type. However once someone moves up there are other jobs associated with being a Heraldic officer. The three types are book heraldry, field heraldry, and court heraldry. All are equally important for the group.
Book heraldry is the first thing that most heralds learn. A heraldic pursuivant, the term for the officer, is the person someone goes to when they want to pick a name or create an original device. All levels of heralds from the Canton to the Dragon Herald, the title of the Middle Kingdom herald, can help with this. The higher the level the more books that usually are owned and definitely available. It is not required that an individual own any books used to look for or validate a name; and create a device with the rules. Some do anyway because it can be easier to have them at the herald’s disposal. Some of them are only at the Dragon level due to the cost and availability. Luckily many of these are available at libraries in the reference section.
Some Canton heralds do not know much about helping a new person with deciding on a name or how to make a proper device. They are not required to either. The local pursuivant is allowed to put the new person in touch with a higher up herald to help instead. But if that local herald would like to move up to a higher office, they will need to learn how to do research and make corrections for the member looking at names and devices.
A field herald is the person that makes the official announcements for the populace to know what is going on during an event. They also might announce who is fighting whom during a heavy weapons tournament. It is important for a field herald to be heard by as many people as possible, if not everyone. Some times it is just not possible for everyone to hear depending on the size of the event, if it is windy for an outdoor event, if everyone is in one general location for the event or spread out, and if there is fighting going on at the time an announcement is made.
Field heralds should project as loudly as possible the news and annunciate so that what they speak is clear. This can be done by being taller than many of the individuals that the herald is announcing to. A hill, a chair, a table, anything that will make people look up to the herald is to the benefit to be heard. A loud voice is also a must. If no one can hear the field herald then everyone is asking each other what was announced. Getting people’s attention before making the announcement is important as well. The field herald will pick the best spot to make their announcement and then get the populace to look at them by calling “Oye, Oye” in a very loud, clear voice. This is the signal that something is about to be said that everyone should listen too.
Lastly is the court herald. This is the person who calls everyone up in court, makes general announcements if the rulers of the court whether Royalty or Baronial, want them too, and calls court to order and close. The court herald and field herald should not be the same person as both require the herald to speak for extended periods in a loud voice. This can hurt the heralds’ voice so that they can not be heard. However at smaller events, especially Baronial or Canton events, they are the same person. And Royal courts tend to have their own herald where the field herald is from the local group. Royal courts also are normally done by the Dragon Herald in the Middle Kingdom, but that is not always the case.
Learning heraldry can be highly educational. To go from book to field or court herald, practicing to be heard is vital, even with a loud voice. But anyone with desire can learn. Regardless, knowing the difference between the three, even if they are the same person, will enlighten newcomers.