A ship is shown sailing away from the water-gate of Bristol Castle. It is based on the early seals of Bristol and versions of it have been used since the late 1300s. The complete arms consist of the shield plus several other elements that were granted in 1569 including the crest that sits above it (consisting of two arms holding a green serpent and a set of golden scales)  and two unicorns as supporters. The serpent represents wisdom and the scales justice, whilst the unicorns will only pay homage to men of virtue. The motto 'Virtute et Industria' sits below the shield and means 'Virtue and Industry'. The arms appear all over the city as an expression of civic identity - the golden unicorns which sit on top of the Council House are based on those supporting the arms.

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