Expert on coats of arms becomes first woman in UK to be appointed a herald

A CENTURIES-OLD institution that oversees Scottish heraldry and coats of arms has appointed its first woman to a leading role.

Elizabeth Roads, 59, from Edinburgh, is the first female herald at the Court of the Lord Lyon following a 35-year career at the official heraldry office for Scotland.

She is the first woman in the UK to hold the role of herald. The equivalent body in England - the College of Arms - has never had a female in the post.

Roads started work at the court in 1975.

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She said yesterday: "There have been heralds since the 12th century and their original role was as diplomats and they did functions that women didn't undertake.

"Although there have been women very interested in heraldry and who have done a lot, until 1986 when I was appointed as Lyon Clerk I suppose there were not any who had been there for a long time and many of them went off and started a family and didn't particularly carry on with their career.

"To an extent I was lucky and I stayed on and continued my career while I had my family. I have been an officer of arms since 1992, so I have now gone up a grade.

"There are three grades - the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, who is the chief herald, then there are three heralds and three pursuivants."

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