Eye Spy Glasgow: Let Glasgow Flourish: the city coat-of-arms

You don't have to be on an 'eye-spy' mission in Glasgow to notice the city's distinctive coat of arms.

Loading Comments
Share
Print

It is all over the place, on the sides of buildings, on clock towers, gates, lampposts, even rubbish bins.

The one pictured is visible as you walk along the River Kelvin footpath. It is built into the bridge that crosses the river at Gibson Street.

The design - with the city motto Let Glasgow Flourish - is depicted on the crest of institutions including Glasgow University and of course Glasgow City Council.

Its component parts are three fish, each with a ring in its mouth; an oak tree with a bird at the top and a bell hanging from its branches; a crown; the city's patron saint St Mungo at the top; and the motto Let Glasgow Flourish emblazoned along the bottom.

There are a number of intriguing tales and legends associated with it, all dating back to the days of St Mungo who lived in the 6th century.

Most Glaswegians will have at least a passing familiarity with the saying:

There's the tree that never grew,

There's the bird that never flew,

There's the fish that never swam,

There's the bell that never rang.

So let's break them down so they can be properly explained.

* The young Mungo was charged with ensuring that a goblet at St Serf's monastery on the banks of the Forth. When rivals put out the holy fire, Mungo blew on a hazel branch which burst into flames and re-ignited the fire. (hence the tree that never grew)

* A wild robin was tamed by the head of the monastery. When the bird died, Mungo prayed over it and the bird was brought back to life. (the bird that never flew)

* The fish is the most intriguing. A queen of Strathclyde was having an affair with one of her husband's knights and when the king found out he threw his wife's ring into the river then demanded that she return it to him. She begged Mungo to help her and he cauight a salmon from the river, opened it up and there was the ring. Not just a miracle but a saint's collusion with an extra-marital affair? (the fish that never swam)

* In 1450 John Stewart, the city's first Lord Provost, left an endowment for a St Mungo's Bell so that citizens could pray for the saint's soul. (the bell that never rang)

One of Mungo's early sermons contained the words "Lord, let Glasgow Flourish by the preaching of the word" and the shortened version - Let Glasgow Flourish - remains the city's motto to this day.

So next time you pass a coat of arms, bear all that in mind.

Hobbies and general interest

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

166366

Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email news@eveningtimes.co.uk
A weekly round up of social highlights

A weekly round up of social highlights

Cat's Eyes on Glasgow

I’m loving the Games from the opening ceremony to presenting the rhythmic gymnastics at the Hydro

Times Out

Entertainment

Lifestyle

TV Advert
Gail’s Gab

Gail’s Gab

Gail Sheridan is a mother-of-one and wife to Tommy and she likes to get political with the hot topic of the week in her column Gail’s Gab.

Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Sussed in the City

The sun always shines in Glasgow in July...honest

Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You couldn’t make up half the stuff that happens to PA Janice Bell- some of the jams she gets herself into are worth a story or two.