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Glasgow's Crest

The City of Glasgow, rather surprisingly, did not have a Coat of Arms until the middle of the 19th century. The Lord Lyon King at Arms gave approval for one to be adopted in 1866, which incorporated a number of symbols and emblems that were assocciated with the legends surrounding St Mungo. These emblems had only been used on official seals up until then.

The Bird that never flew,
The Tree that never grew,
The Bell that never rang,
The Fish that never swam.

The Bird in the crest commemorates a wild Robin that St Serf, St Mungo's old master, tamed. The Robin was accidentally killed by some of St Serf's disciples who in turn blamed St Mungo. When St Mungo took the dead bird in his hands and prayed over it, it was restored to life and flew chirping to its master.

Legend informs us that the Tree, which is now portrayed in the crest as an oak, started life as a hazel branch. As a boy in the monastery, St Mungo was left in charge of the holy fire in the refectory of St Serf's Monastery. He fell asleep one night and some of the other boys who were envious of his favoured position, put out the fire. When he woke and found what had happened, St Mungo broke off some frozen branches from a hazel tree and, by praying over them, caused them to burst into flames.

It is thought that the square Bell may have been aquired by St Mungo on a trip to Rome but there is no definite information as to how he obtained it. In the 15th Century St Mungo's Bell had become a notable institution in Glasgow. In 1450, John Stewart, the first Provost of Glasgow, left, as did many others, an endowment to have the bell tolled throughout the city to call the citizens to pray for his soul. The bell was still ringing out in 1578, as there is an entry in the City Treasurer's accounts for two shillings "for one tong to St Mungowis Bell." A replacement was purchased by the magistrates in 1641 and this bell still exists in the People's Palace on Glasgow Green.

The Fish is a salmon, which is always shown with a ring in it's mouth. The ring was a present from Hydderch Hael, King of Cadzow, to his wife, Queen Languoreth.

The Queen had given the ring to her lover, who was one of her Knights. The King being suspicious, took it from him one night while he slept during a hunting party and threw it into the River Clyde. When they all returned home, the King demanded the ring from Queen Languoreth and threatened her with death if she did not produce it. The Queen asked the Knight to return it but he, of course, could not. She then confessed to St Mungo what she had done. He sent one of his monks to fish in the river, instructing him to bring back the first fish that he caught. When the monk returned with the fish, St Mungo cut it open and found the ring.

Glasgow's Motto

Local folklore says that St Mungo once preached a sermon that included the line "Lord, let Glasgow flourish through the preaching of thy word".

The city`s motto is a shortened version of the inscription on a bell that was made for the Tron Kirk on Trongate in 1637. The steeple still exists as part of the Tron Theatre:

Lord, let Glasgow flovrichse throvgh the preaching of thy word and praising thy name.

In 1663 the motto became:

Lord, let Glasgow flourish through the preaching of thy word

and in 1699 this was shortened to:

Let Glasgow flourish.


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