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  • Updated 26 February 2017
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The Ship and the Silver Swan

The emblem of the Princes of Dol Amroth

A description of the banner and emblem of the Princes of Dol Amroth, an ancient and proud line of nobles of Gondor. The ship and the silver swan were in fact parts of the same heraldic device: a silver or white1 vessel with its prow in the form of a swan, sailing on a field of blue representing the Sea. The cavalry who rode beneath the Princes' banner were known as the swan-knights, taking their name from swan element of their symbol.

The banner of the Ship and the Silver Swan was seen prominently throughout the closing days of the War of the Ring. Prince Imrahil rode into Minas Tirith beneath it, and rode out again days later to attack the City's besiegers during the Battle of the Pelennor. After that battle the Prince's blue banner flew for a time from the pinnacle of Minas Tirith's White Tower, and it was also carried to the desperate stand of the Captains of the West before the Gates of Mordor.

The ship with a swan-shaped prow must surely represent one of the ships of the Elves, which were commonly built in this form. The connection here is through Edhellond, an old haven of the Elves on the coasts of Belfalas close to Dol Amroth, and with ties to the house of the Princes. They were in part descended from an Elf-maiden named Mithrellas, a follower of Nimrodel on the road to Edhellond. The Princes' white ship may indeed represent the very vessel on which Amroth waited for Nimrodel, and from which he leapt into the waters of the Bay of Belfalas.


Notes

1

The ship device is at times described as silver, and at other times as white. This is probably a reference to the heraldic colour argent, a word that literally means 'silver' (and was historically made from a tincture of silver), but is in practice used interchangeably with 'white'.

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