Fishing for Arms; Saint's Tale: Glasgow's Coat of Arms. Including Fish, Rings, a Tree and a Bell

Daily Mail (London), March 17, 2008 | Go to article overview

Fishing for Arms; Saint's Tale: Glasgow's Coat of Arms. Including Fish, Rings, a Tree and a Bell


Byline: Charles Legge

QUESTION The Glasgow coat of arms has a fish with a coin in its mouth.What is the significance of this?

IN 1866, the Lord Lyon King at Arms gave approval for the Glasgow coat of arms,which incorporated a number of symbols and emblems which, until then, had beenused on official seals.

All were associated with St Kentigern, affectionately known in Scotland as StMungo (derived from Brythonic my-nghu, meaning 'dear one').

The bell is believed to represent the one given to St Mungo by the Pope. It wassaid to have been used in services and to mourn the deceased. The original bellno longer exists, and a replacement, cast in the 1640s, is on display inGlasgow's People's Palace.

The tree represents the hazel branch which the young St Mungo miraculously setalight when the holy fire of St Serf's monastery at Culross was extinguished.

The bird represents a robin brought back to life by the young saint after StSerf's disciples had killed it and blamed Mungo.

The fish refers to the story of Queen Langeoreth, whose husband King RydderachHael suspected her of infidelity. Knowing she had given her gold wedding ringto her lover, King Hael took the ring from the knight as he slept and threw itinto the River Clyde.

When he challenged her to produce the ring, Langeoreth sought help from theknight who, through his confession to St Mungo, was instructed by the saint totake a salmon from the river. To the king's amazement, the ring was discoveredin the salmon's mouth.

Kentigern is also said to have preached the sermon containing the words: 'Lord,let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the word.' This was abbreviated to'Let Glasgow flourish' and adopted as the city's motto.

St Mungo's four miracles are remembered in the rhyme: Here is the bird thatnever flew Here is the tree that never grew Here is the bell that never rangHere is the fish that never swam Davis Swanton, Glasgow.

QUESTION How do the people of the Scilly Isles dispose of their waste? THEIsles Of Scilly are a council in their own right. Though the islands are onlythe size of a parish, with a population of 2,000, the council has theresponsibility of a county and has no connection with Cornwall.

The council is responsible for all aspects of local government: education,roads, social services, fire brigade and water supply. It also owns theairport. It 'rents' a policeman (or two in summer) from the Devon and Cornwallconstabulary.

The council dustcart makes regular collections. There is a council dump with arecently refurbished incinerator at Porthmellon which burns anythingcombustible. Anything that cannot be burnt is returned to the mainland at greatexpense.

While the beaches are generally pristine, plastic waste is sometimes foundwashed up. Most has foreign writing on it, indicating it has been dumped bypassing ships or has drifted across the Atlantic.

G. E. Clark, Orpington, Kent.

QUESTION What's the difference between a primary and a caucus? …

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