Thursday, 1 December 2011

Scottish links

last morning of November
Yesterday, we had some business to attend to in Loches, and as it was also market day we went up in the morning. As we drove along the mist began to thin and there was the promise of sun later on. The small camera now mostly lives in the car so we took a few photos. 

30 November is the feast of St Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. Before devolution it was a day when official buildings in Scotland would fly the Saltire Cross -- the Scottish flag, instead of the Union Jack. Now of course the Scottish flag is flown everywhere.

welcome to Loches
Often in expat communities more is made of events such as St Andrew's day than would be the case in the home country. We can remember, when living in Wassenaar, being enthusiastically cornered by a lady very keen on signing anyone, with even the most tenuous connection to Scotland, up for a St Andrew's Day ball. It took some dexterity on our part to manoeuvre elegantly out of that one. We were informed that kilts were mandatory and that counted Niall out. He has a clan tartan but having worn a kilt once to a highland wedding swore never again. Not even at our own wedding.

Loches is alliĆ©e, associated with, the University town of St Andrews in Fife. It's nice that a town close to us has this link with not only Scotland, but a place we know well as we have good friends who live there. And... yes,  it is the place where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met, as well as the historic home of golf. A couple of months ago Loches held a 'Scotland Week' and along with holding events festooned the central streets with Scottish bunting; Saltire Crosses to the fore!

St Andrew with Saltire Cross
Legend has it that Rule, "an obscure Scottish saint" [Oxford Dictionary of Saints]; brought the relics, or at least some of them, to Scotland. He landed in Fife and built a church on the site of what is now the town of St Andrews. It became a center of pilgrimage and hence led to the selection of St Andrew as the patron saint of Scotland.

In early depictions St Andrew is shown with a normal cross. The X, or Saltire Cross, now associated with him first appears in the 10thC in Autun [SW of Dijon] and becomes common by the 14thC.

12 comments:

GaynorB said...

Interesting information and good for my quest to learn something new every day!

A belated happy St Andrew's Day to you both for yesterday.

the fly in the web said...

Fascinating the evolution from normal cross to saltire...anything I can read on the subject?

Perpetua said...

How interesting that a neighbouring town is twinned with somewhere you know well. A small world...

Like Fly I feel the urge to find out more about St Andrew and the saltire cross after reading this post.

Jean said...

Fascinating !! I bet the Scottish week was fun - wish we could have been there to see it.
My home town in the UK is twinned with Troyes but I never hear of anything happening to do with it, which is a shame.

SP said...

An interesting post, thank you.

SP

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Gaynor - thanks! Needless to say we spent it dancing highland reels.....not! ;-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Fly & Perpetua - during the Middle Ages a story/legend began to do the rounds that St Andrew allegedly refused to be crucified on an ordinary cross as he wasn't worthy to die in the same manner as Jesus. So allgedly he was crucified [bound, not nailed] on an X shaped cross instead.
Up to then -- and he was a popular saint -- his iconography shows a regular cross, [or much more rarely a fishing net]. So from the 1300's he's depicted with the X cross.

Oxford Dictionary of Saints is useful. Haven't checked out how accurate the Wikipedia entry is. The Catholic Encyclopedia:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/
can be helpful too.

How the Saltire Cross came to be Scotland's flag is a separate story....

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jean - sad that; we've visited Troyes and it is is quite an interesting place. Plenty of history :-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@SP - you're welcome!

Perpetua said...

Gosh, thanks for this. What it is to follow the blog of a couple of mediaeval historians! :-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - you're more than welcome :-)!

the fly in the web said...

Thank you, great to have a trail to follow.