|Sussex - the old county|
The martlet has no feet, although tufts of feathers are shown in place of legs and feet. The bird is thought to have been based on the swift, which in olden times was thought never to land. The supposed inability of the martlet to land is said by some modern commentators to symbolize the constant quest for knowledge, learning, and adventure - hence its incorporation in the shields of schools and universities.
As far as Sussex is concerned, the six martlets represent the six historical rapes- the administrative divisions of the county - Chichester, Arundel, Bramber, Lewes, Pevensey and Hastings.