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Clan Crest Badge
A Scottish Crest Badge, more commonly called a Clan Crest, is a heraldic badge worn to show one's allegiance to a specific Scottish clan. Crest badges may be worn by any member of a clan. Even though it is the most common name, the term clan crest is a misnomer. There is no such thing as a clan crest. Modern crest badges usually consist of the clan chief's personal crest surrounded by a strap and buckle and the chief's motto or slogan. Although "clan crests" are commonly bought and sold, the heraldic crest and motto belong to the chief alone and never the clansman or clanswomen. Crest badges, much like clan tartans, do not have a long history, and owe much to Victorian era romanticism, having only been worn on the bonnet since the 19th century.
The original clan badges were merely plants worn in bonnets or hung from a pole or spear. Plant Badges were characteristic of the highland clans. Many Scottish clans opted for sprigs from trees like oak, Scots pine, hazel, birch, juniper, rowan and even driftwood to identify them. Other clans chose among Scottish wildflowers for a plant badge.
A person does not need to be a member of a clan society to be able to wear a crest badge. Any clansmen or clanswoman has a right to it, not just clan societies and clan society members. According to the Court of the Lord Lyon clan membership goes with the surname. Clan membership does not automatically pass through a woman who has changed her name in marriage and through to her children - thus children are members of their fathers' clan. Although, today many people who do not bear a clan surname do wear crest badges of their mother's clan, and anyone who offers their allegiance to a clan chief is a member of a clan (unless the chief decides to refuse that person's allegiance). Many people bear names that, while not actual clan surnames, are sept names or associated names of certain clans. Surnames such as Smith, Wright, Fletcher, and Miller are examples as such names that are associated names or many clans (as every clan would have its own smiths, wrights, fletchers and millers). It is up to the individual to explore their personal ancestry and discovery the correct clan that they belong to.
Clan chiefs, clan chieftains, armigers, clansmen and clanswomen may wear crest badges.