What is a pile driver

Ram (heraldry)

Ram as a craft / work tool
(in the background; 1612)
Ram as a weapon of war
Bronze ram spur (Greek warship, 2nd century BC)

ram is in heraldry a generic or regulatory term for several rare common figures, the diverse Ramming tools or Pile drivers are modeled on. Roughly differentiates the heraldic being or some heraldic orders between ramming as

  • Craft / working device / tool
  • War equipment / weapon

The differentiation of individual piling devices or their components as well as their naming in the description of the coat of arms are still at the beginning in heraldry. It is likely that in the future more precise information / names for common figures for ramming will find their way into the coat of arms and in the coat of arms descriptions.

Ram as a craft / work tool

Hand ram
a) wooden ram for 4 people;
b) Steel ram for 1 person
(Illustration from 1911)

Use of rams as a craft / work tool

1698: Paver with hand ram

General is the craft device ram a tool or a machine and serves among other things

  • for tamping / compacting earth, stones, gravel, soil, pavement, loose, soft subsoil, etc.
  • for driving in / driving in posts, stakes, sheet piles, etc.
  • for ramming in / breaking open locked doors, asphalt pavements, concrete layers, etc.
  • for forging or deforming metals etc.

Basically, a ram is performed as a

  • "Hand ram": this is a ram that is operated by a single person or by several people freehand.
  • "Scaffold rammers": this is a ram that is clamped in a scaffolding and is originally operated by human or animal muscle power (a ram weight is lifted and dropped onto the pile; the kinetic energy acting on the pile is determined by the weight of the pile and its mass achieved acceleration due to gravity).

(Common) ram

The (common) ram is (so far) not well defined in heraldry. The generality of the expression is indefinite or ambiguous and leaves the exact form and shape of the ram open. So if possible he should Not be reported in a coat of arms description without additional specification. If the term is used alone, a heraldic artist does not know, for example, whether he is a Hand ram or one Scaffolding to tear open in the coat of arms (the generic term ram is an abbreviation for both types of pile driving).

Hand ram

Hand ram
(according to WBO, No. 9463)

The mean figure Hand ram (also Handrail, Maid, Pfaffenmütze, Post driver, Paving ram, Occupying mallets, Pound, Tamper, Hoye, Heye, Pusher, stamp or called similar; French demoiselle, here or similar; engl .: rammer) is modeled on the tool of the same name, which consists of an (iron-clad) hardwood block, a completely iron block or the like and is provided with handles / handles for one or more people. There are several variants. They differ, for example, in the exact design of the actual “ramming block” (conical, double-conical, pear-shaped, (tree) trunk-like, as a cuboid or similar). Another distinguishing feature is the number and shape of the handles / handles attached to the block. These are usually opposite each other in pairs, are slightly curved, completely round as a bracket or consist of sturdy wooden sticks that are pulled / drilled through the block. Either a total of 2 or 4 or 6 handles / handles are used on a hand ram; the exact number should be mentioned in the description of the coat of arms.

  • Number of times a hand ram is handled
  • Rectangular hand ram with drilled sticks as a handle
    (Illustration from 1837)

  • Hand ram with a total of 2 handles
    (1533; family coat of arms ram von Gladewigk; Judge and mayor of Göttingen)

  • Hand ram with a total of 4 handles
    (Illustration from 1645)

  • Hand ram around which a total of 6 handles are drawn
    (between 1450-1580: coat of arms of those from Aufheim / Aufheimer)

Hand ramming: 2 maidens
(1880: according to the text "Zwei Jungfern" by Hans Christian Andersen)
Rectangular hand ram with brackets

If the handles / handles are almost as long as the ram block, then the hand ram is sometimes called "Pfaffenmütze". If the ramming block of a hand ram has the shape of a straight cone ("sugar loaf"), it sometimes becomes "Maiden" called. In the text "Zwei Jungfern", the poet Hans Christian Andersen describes the Handramme / Jungfer as follows:

"It is made entirely of wood, broad at the bottom and studded with iron hoops, and narrow at the top and traversed by a rod, these are its arms."

In illustrations to the text, the hand-ram / maiden appears at the upper end pulled out to a woman's torso. Comparable embellishments of the hand ram or special features such as a Rooster plume, a cross or the like should be reported if necessary.

Sieve maker

ram (Plate XXVIII. Figure 101, 102.): in various forms,
Figure 101. is referred to as a paving ram (..).
Figure 103. is a so-called Hand ram, remembered only once in an English coat of arms. "

  • Hand ramming (according to Siebmacher)
  • Three hand rams with two handles each
    (Coat of arms of those from Könneritz)

  • Family coat of arms de Damas


2015: Stamp in the family coat of arms Oil mallet

The mean figure Pound (also Erdstampfer, Stomp, TamperStamp, Stamper or called similar; French: pilon; engl .: stomp or pestle) is sometimes assigned to the group of rammers / hand rammers in heraldic orders. It is based on the stamping tool of the same name. There are many variants of a pestle that differ in shape (Cabbage rammers, paper / trowel / fulling / oil rammers, lead rammers, mill rammers, hand rammers, watch case rammers, can rammers, rapier rammers, spoon rammers, hammer rammers, mortars). The expression Pound is a generic term for all of these ramming tools. If possible, it should not be reported in a coat of arms description without additional specification.

In contrast to the usual hand rams, which have handles on the side of the ram block, the (common) pestle with a vertical handle appears in the Siebmacher or Maximilian Gritzner.

  • 1889: Stampfe
    (according to Siebmacher / Gritzner)

  • Erdstampfer (illustration from 1837)

Door ram

The mean figure Towers (also One-man ram called) is based on a crusher of the same name. The door ram breaking tool is basically a hand ram, but is not used for tamping and vertically, but horizontally (for example to break open doors). Due to the horizontal application, the handles on this tool are arranged differently. Whether a door ram should appear as a common figure in a coat of arms is controversial. The editors are not aware of any unequivocal evidence that horizontally used "door rams", such as those used in modern times by the fire brigade and police, were also in use in the early / heyday of the coat of arms (11th to 15th centuries).

  • Modern door ram (fire brigade)

  • Modern door rams (police, military, etc.)

Modern pile drivers

Although rather unsuitable as a coat of arms motif, modern pile drivers / pile rammers differ (English: pile driver, post pounder, post driver, post knocker or fence driver) basically not from historical hand rams to driving stakes. Both work on the same ramming principle.


1 = cable / rope
2 = clamp / clamp bar
3 = guide rails
4 = ramming mass (ram ram)
5 = ram hood
6 = post

The mean figure Scaffolding (also Ramming frame, Ramming, Art ram, Ram, Pile driver or similar) is based on the pile-driving device of the same name. This usually has a three, four or multi-legged frame and a more or less complex scaffolding structure with which a heavy ram weight can be pulled up and dropped. There are several variants of the scaffolding rams, the shapes of which differ depending on the application. For example, scaffolding rams for driving piles into a body of water appear differently than scaffolding rams for driving inclined piles or as scaffolding rams that are operated with oxen or horses.

Although the figure of the scaffolding ram seems to be suitable as a coat of arms motif, the editorial team is not aware of whether the motif was ever included as a whole in a coat of arms. Components of the scaffolding rammers (such as a battering bear, see below), however, are documented as rare heraldic figures. If a scaffolding ram appears as a coat of arms motif, it should, if possible, be written in the blazon and be described by naming its special type and all its special features.

  • Scaffolding rams for driving piles into the bottom of a body of water (1582)

  • Scaffolding rams for driving piles at an angle (1582)

  • Scaffolding rammers operated by oxen or horses (1668).

Visually, a talking coat of arms of the former municipality of Ramsdorf comes very close to a scaffolding ram (Ramme = Ram[sdorf]). The coat of arms, which is based on a seal from the 14th century, appears there as a "bell-shaped ram", which is "held" on each side with scaffold-like narrow bars (the ram is decorated with a cross that was added to the figure later) . In fact, the coat of arms could also be a "bell chair / gallows / frame with a bell" (comparable to the coat of arms of Baltrum, Humppila or others).

  • (Scaffolding) ram (?)
    (Coat of arms of the former municipality of Ramsdorf[3])

  • The Ramsdorf "Ramme" in the coat of arms of Velen

  • Bell frame with bell (coat of arms Baltrum)

  • Bell frame with bell (Humppila coat of arms)

Ram as a weapon of war

Use of rams as a destruction device

General is the device of destruction ram a tool or a machine and serves

  • for tearing down / breaking open walls, gates or towers ("battering ram")
  • to damage / break open enemy ships below the waterline or above water ("ram bow / ram")

battering ram

Replica of a battering ram with a ram's head on two wheels
1778 (second line, first coat of arms): Three battering rams on top of each other (coat of arms Ancaster)

The mean figure battering ram (also Battering ram, Wall breaker, Aries called; lat. aries; French: bélier; engl .: battering ram) is the siege weapon of the same name, battering ram modeled on. There are several variants of the figure, ranging from a simple tree trunk to a battering ram in a covered and loaded wagon to a swinging trunk that is suspended under a scaffold. A wide audience is particularly familiar with rams that were provided with a bronze ram / ram head.

Ram (Plate XXV. Figure 64.): is a rare figure in German coats of arms, although it was already known in Roman times; a branch of the Märkische from Bornstedt is up to this ram over a wall. "

  • Coat of arms of the von Bornstaedt in St. Marien (Ziethen bei Anklam)

  • Coat of arms of the von Bornstaedt in the Greifswald district building

  • Roman wall breaker / storm ram

  • 1845: use of a "ram ram"

  • Battering ram on two wheels pushed by three men.

  • Visions of Ezekiel: Three “ram rams” with wheels surround the prophet

Ram bow / ram spur

The mean characters Battering bow and Ramspur (also Ship's beak, Rostrum called; engl: naval ram) are modeled on the rams that were attached to the bow of a ship.

  • Roman battering bug (illustration from 1911)

  • Galley with overwater battering thorn

Ram block

The Ram block ("Klotz zum Rammen"), a component of both the hand and the scaffolding rammers and partly of the ramming weapons, is a common figure in heraldry that appears in several variants. It is advisable to distinguish precisely between the different ramming blocks in the description of the coat of arms.

Ramming block in general

In coats of arms, ramming blocks sometimes appear without any handles / handbones or without components for lifting accessories. In these cases, due to the heraldic stylization, it is difficult or impossible to determine which type of ram the ram block belongs to. In order to avoid confusion, it is advisable to always clearly describe and design the ramming blocks (i.e. always with features that enable them to be assigned to a specific ramming device).

  • Ram without handling and without components for lifting accessories (family coat of arms from Ramberg)


Scaffolding rammers with cuboid battering rams

The mean figure ram (partly also as Ram block, Ramming mass, Ram weight, Ram block, battering ram, Chopping block, Punch bear, bear, cat, servant is modeled on the component of a scaffolding ram, which in the original falls on the "head" of the object to be driven in (pile, peg, sheet pile). The battering ram is usually in the shape of an iron or wooden cylinder / piston executed, but can also be made as a cuboid or appear similar (depending on the type of scaffold ram). The exact design of the battering ram is to be reported if necessary.

"(The wooden ram is often - Editor's note) with iron rings and rails, on the rear side it has 2 arms above and below, with which it rests on a vertical beam (runner, leader) standing in the front threshold. Often the ram block has only one bung at the rear, with which it goes up and down between 2 runners; To prevent it from swaying, a piece of wood has been stuck through the bung. "

- Baron August Daniel Binzer; Heinrich August Pierer: 1832[4]

"(..) Figure 102. (will - Note from the editor) technically as ram, that is, a heavy ram to be pulled into the air by ropes, intended for driving stakes, designated (..) "

  • Ram / ramming block
    (according to Siebmacher)

Ram block of pile drivers

The mean figure Ram block, which is modeled on the ramming weapons, varies depending on the weapon. It can appear as a pointed, cylindrical block of a "pile driver", as a ram's head of a "wall breaker" or something similar. The exact specification must be reported if necessary.

  • Ram block
    (according to WBO, No. 9692)

Demarcation and special ram shapes

There are some very old coats of arms with heraldic figures, which have not been proven beyond doubt as to whether they represent rammers or not.

Ram in the coat of arms of the Knorr family, Knorring etc.

For example, there is no agreement in the coat of arms research, what in the oldest coat of arms / seal representations of the family from Knorr respectively from Knorring appears. The heraldic figure is not only used as a ram, but also, for example, as a (two-handled) gift cup / drinking vessel, as a mill iron[5] or mortar[6] or the like interpreted. These interpretations of the early seal images were partially taken up by later contemporaries and led to the outlines of the coat of arms, which no longer show a "dubious" coat of arms motif, but rather clearly identifiable coat of arms figures such as ram, mug and so on.

  • Coat of arms of the Eichsfeldischen Knorr (after Siebmacher, 1898)

  • The coat of arms is not clearly identified
    (Knorring family coat of arms; after Hildebrandt, 1900-1920)

  • Coat of arms motif not clearly identified
    (Coat of arms of the Baltic Knorring)

  • Variaton of coat of arms
    (Baltic lines)

  • Variaton of coat of arms
    (Baltic States)

Hand ram in the coat of arms of the Rameshusen family

The Paderborn aristocratic family by Rameshusen (also Rames [hus], Rameshosen written), whose head office was near Büren, had one in its seal as a talking motif in 1377 ram ("Hand / plaster ram"); later the motif is sometimes mistakenly called "Henkelkrug" interpreted.

  • Hand ram in the family coat of arms Rameshusen

Pile-driving machines

Modern pile-driving machines piling machines) that use hydraulic fluid, compressed air, explosion gases or the like as energy carriers are not used in heraldry.

Guild sign

Hugo Gerard Ströhl drew this around 1900 in connection with the Viennese industrial cooperatives Coat of arms of the pavers with a hand ram.

Coat of arms order


Some representatives of the rams also appear in para-heraldic signs or in military heraldry.

  • Battering ram in the para coat of arms of the Italian Armored Brigade Ariete


  • Wolfram, Ludwig Friedrich: Complete textbook of the entire art of construction: Doctrine of earthworks; First division, doctrine of earthworks in general and of the foundation of buildings in particular. Volume 2. Edition 1. 1837.

Web links

Wiktionary: Ramme - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

lemma ram. In: Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm: German dictionary, Leipzig 1854-1960 (woerterbuchnetz.de).

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Hans Christian Andersen: All fairy tales. The only complete edition provided by the author. Two maidens. Leipzig. 1880.
  2. 2,02,12,2J. Siebmacher's large and general book of arms, introductory volume, section B: Principles of the art of arms combined with a manual of heraldic terminology (Maximilian Gritzner). Nuremberg: Bauer & Raspe, 1889. p. 136.
  3. ↑ Description of the coat of arms: "In blue a yellow ram with a yellow cross."
  4. ↑ Binzer, August Daniel Freiherr von; Pierer, Heinrich August: Encyclopaedic dictionary of the sciences, arts and trades. Ram. 1832.
  5. ↑ Peter Anhalt: Mühleisen in the arms of Rusteberg and Knorr. In: Eichsfelder Heimatzeitschrift - The monthly magazine for all Eichsfelder, pp. 237–241 in issue 7/8, July / August 2012 (PDF; 4.3 MB), based on Harald v. Knorring, Sigillen från 1200-tales Rusteberg. The seals of Rusteberg in the 13th century. Uppsala 2011, 158 pages
  6. ↑ Hans Dieter von Hanstein: Hanstein Castle: On the 700-year history of a Eichsfeld border fortress, P. 111
  7. ↑ The translation of "Knorris stat lapidum rata machina, quanta viarum, hispida contusu reddere plana solet." reads:
    "The Knorre have a device for stones that makes bumpy paths by pushing them."
    (Translation from Padberg Evenboer in the discussion thread title: Finally explained! of the Heraldry Forum on the Net. Retrieved May 31, 2013.)