The Shield is derived from the former arms of Oldham showing three white owls (a pun on Owldham) and three red rings giving the initial letter 0.
Above it is the closed helm proper to Civic arms with its twisted crest-wreath and decorative mantling. Upon the wreath stands the Crest. The owl is shown on its rock rising from a gold circlet charged with the three red rings from the shield.
The two red griffins identify the other districts by the heraldry of their chief manorial families which are some of the most famous in history. They include the Chaddertons (connected with Chadderton, Failsworth, Crompton and Lees) and the Chethams (connected with Crompton). Both families are branches of the de Traffords whose red griffin is also seen at Eccles and elsewhere. As a necessary difference they wear collars with fluted edges like those in the arms of the Radcliffes (Oldham, Royton and Chadderton). On the collars are the three red bendlets on white, of the arms of the Byrons (Failsworth, Crompton and Royton).
From each collar hangs a white heptagon symbolic of the united seven authorities. On the left one is the black mullet of the Asshetons (Oldham and Chadderton) and on the right Saddleworth is represented by a black saddle in reference to the name of its derivation a settlement on a saddle-shaped ridge.
The motto Sapere Aude means dare to be wise with the word Aude containing the syllable Owd of the local pronunciation of Owdham or Owldham.