We have been working on the novel Divided City and we wanted to find out more about Glasgow’s coat of arms and motto.
Everything in the coat of arms can be remembered by this poem:
Here’s the bird that never flew
Here’s the tree that never grew
Here’s the bell that never rang
Here’s the fish that never swam
The Coat of Arms was made in 1866 but all the things contained in the Coat of Arms are included because of legends that come from much longer ago than that.
The bell is supposed to be St Mungo’s given to him by the Pope. A replacement was purchased in 1641 and can be found in the People’s Palace.
The tree in the coat of arms is now a sturdy oak tree, representing the hazel branch which young St Mungo miraculously set alight when the holy fire of the monastery at Culross was extinguished by other boys.
The fish refers to the story of Queen Langeoreth and her husband, King Rydderach Hael, who suspected her of being unfaithful. Knowing she had given her gold wedding ring to her lover, King Hael took the ring from the knight while he was sleeping and threw it into the River Clyde. Challenging her to show the ring, he asked for help from the knight who, through his confession to St Mungo, was told by the saint to take a salmon from the river. So he took a salmon out of the river and he found the ring in its mouth.
The Bird represents a robin that was brought back to life by the young saint after St Serf’s disciples had accidentally killed it and Mungo got the blame.