Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

The secret hidden in Kelvingrove’s baluster

Having gone from days, to weeks, to years, and now (thankfully), at last, to mere months between visits to Kelvingrove, I’m slowly getting back into the habit of looking for things I’ve missed. Seriously – this is tough when you can’t simply drop in during any weekend.

Case in point – the balusters on the front and rear stairways between the floors. I can’t believe it has taken me so many years to remember to stop and look closely at these, such is my general haste to get between the floors these days.

But I did remember recently, and was well rewarded for my efforts.

I imagine few people stop to look at these, or even notice them.

Incidentally, for those unfamiliar, baluster is the name of the vertical spindle between the handrail and (in this case) the tread.

I noticed the top of each baluster was a carved figure, but never stopped long enough to see what they actually were.

As you will see from the pics below, they are taken from Glasgow’s coat of arms, depicting three of the four elements – I couldn’t find ‘The tree that never grew’, which seems to be missing for some reason, or is perhaps elsewhere. I might ask one day.

This is the view down one of the stairwells – not the most brightly lit of places, hence the less than perfect pics.

Kelvingrove Stairwell

Kelvingrove Stairwell

Definitely no tree there.

But here are details of the other three elements of our coat of arms:

The Bird That Never Flew

The Bird That Never Flew


The Bell That Never Rang

The Bell That Never Rang


The Fish That Never Swam

The Fish That Never Swam

In the Life of Saint Mungo, he performed four miracles in Glasgow. The following verse is used to remember Mungo’s four miracles:

Here is the bird that never flew
Here is the tree that never grew
Here is the bell that never rang
Here is the fish that never swam

The verses refer to the following:

  • The Bird — Mungo restored life to a robin, which had been tamed by St Serf, but had been killed by some of his classmates, jealous of Mungo as he was favoured by St Serf.
  • The Tree — Mungo had been left in charge of a fire in St Serf’s monastery, but he fell asleep and the fire went out. Taking a hazel branch, he prayed over it and restarted the fire.
  • The Bell — the bell is thought to have been brought by Mungo from Rome. It was said to have been used in services and to mourn the deceased. The original bell no longer exists, and a replacement, created in the 1640s, is now on display in Glasgow, in the People’s Palace on Glasgow Green. There was an earlier bell – in 1450, John Stewart, first Lord Provost of Glasgow, left an endowment for a “St Mungo’s Bell”, to be made and tolled throughout the city so that the citizens would pray for his soul. Still being rung in 1578, an entry in the City Treasurer’s accounts shows two shillings (10 p) “for one tong to St Mungowis Bell.”
  • The Fish — refers to the story about Queen Languoreth of Strathclyde who was suspected of infidelity by her husband. King Riderch demanded to see her ring, which he claimed she had given to her lover. In reality the King had thrown it into the River Clyde. Faced with execution she appealed for help to Mungo, who ordered a messenger to catch a fish in the river. On opening the fish, the ring was miraculously found inside, which allowed the Queen to clear her name.



06/09/2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment


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