The Horn of Leys and Holly Leaves
The Coat of Arms of the Burnetts of Leys contains a Hunting Horn and three Holly Leaves.
The earliest known seals of the Burnett family show a leaf and later three leaves on a shield. Their 12th century use probably indicated the agricultural lifestyle of the family.
Alexander Burnard was a supporter of King Robert the Bruce and in 1323 was granted the Royal Forest of Drum. Part of this part land was later given to another supporter, William De Irwin, and both became keepers of the Royal Forest. Thereafter their arms consisted of a shield emblazoned with three holly leaves and, in the case of Burnett, a horn of office. These shields represented the official Arms of the King’s Steward who would have displayed on his shield and upon his banner, the holly leaves as an official cognisance under which the King’s tenants would have, when required, join the feudal array of Scotland.
There is positive evidence that the family coat of arms contained the Horn and Holly Leaves as early as the 16th century and it is assumed that the Horn itself was given to Alexander Burnard as a symbol of the Office of Royal Forester.
The modern variant of the coat of arms has been used to identify the Leys Estate activities which include the companies within the Bancon Group. The Horn of Leys remains in the ownership of the Burnett family and is on display at Crathes Castle.