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It has been stated that the town of Moffat may have taken its name from the Celtic 'magh ubh at' meaning a deep mountain hollow and indeed the town forms the amphitheatre of the Annandale Hills. People have lived in the area for a long time, as evidenced by the discovery of the Rotten Bottom Bow which indicated a settlement in the area dating back over six thousand years.
Written evidence about the heraldry of Moffat appears in the seventeenth century; in 1648 Moffat was made a burgh of Regality in favour of James Johnstone of Corhead, which was confirmed to James Johnstone, 3rd Earl of Annandale in 1662. (these gave the Earl territorial jurisdiction over Moffat) The coat of arms used was that of the Marquesses of Annandale.
Description of arms :
'Azure a winged spur Or, Leathered Gules, and below this shield this motto:' "Nunquam Non Paratus "
This motto translates from the Latin meaning 'never unprepared' The blue field seems to have no special significance, apart from being a favourite colour of a Scottish town or perhaps it refers to the river Annan.
Proof of the existence of a coat of arms is revealed in the town bell, which hung in the turret of the Burgh courthouse (now the butchers), which shows the coat of arms along with the date 1660.
In 1864 Moffat became a Police Burgh which 'allowed the inhabitant of populous places' to adopt a police system - 'watching, cleaning, lighting' and other general amenities of the Burgh. Moffat was allowed to have elected magistrates and councillors who had the authority to levy rates to pay for the services provided. (The chain of office in Moffat Museum shows the date and the coat of arms)
The use of heraldry continued into the twentieth century, but with the formation of town councils (Town Council (Scotland) Act 1900, the right to bear arms came under the scrutiny of the Lord Lyon. By 1929 the Lord Lyon began an investigation of the uses of coats of arms in Scottish Burghs. He discovered that a large number, including Moffat had been' using armorial bearings illegally' as they were operating as town councils. The Lord Lyon sent a letter to the editor of the Scotsman outlining the requirements for town councils to have their arms granted. Therefore in 1930 the town council of Moffat in return for a payment of £20.00 received from the Lord Lyon permission to have a coat of arms granted. Examples of the arms can be seen in the Library, Moffat Town Hall, on the two lampposts outside and on the sign at the entrance to Moffat.
This situation remained till the re-organisation of local government in 1975 when town councils were abolished. The right to bear arms reverted to the crown.
Extract from letters Patent: '"VIDELICET: - Azure, a winged spur Or Leathered Gules. Above the shield is placed a coronet appropriate to a statutory Community Council, VIDELICET: a circlet richly chased from which are issuant four thistle leaves (one and two halves visible) and four pine cones (two visible) Or, and in an Escrol below the same this Motto "NUNQUAM NON PARATUS"'.Moffat and District Community Council hope that the new coat of arms will herald a fresh beginning to promote unity, enhance the Community Spirit and inspire all the residents of Moffat so that we will always be "Aye Prepared " to face the future with confidence.
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