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Issue 77 - Autumn Leaves

Scotland Magazine Issue 77
October 2014

 

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Autumn Leaves

Roddy Martine pays tribute to St Andrew

This is the time of year when the Scottish Summer fades into a mantle of gold and red and terracotta, and thoughts turn towards St Andrews Day and the approach of Winter. It has always seemed unfortunate to me that St Andrews Day should fall as the days shorten and daylight becomes precious. But then you have to remember that it was the Scots who chose Saint Andrew for our Patron Saint, not the other way around, and presumably under the circumstances, the seasons were irrelevant.

After all, it was to Scotland that the Greek missionary St Rule, accompanied by six monks and nuns, brought a collection of Saint Andrew's body parts ten centuries earlier and it was eight centuries earlier that the Saltire Cross, a symbol of his martyrdom, was chosen to adorn Scotland's flag. Furthermore, as the brother of St Peter, Andrew most definitely added gravity to the Declaration of Arbroath, Scotland's petition of sovereignty to the Pope in 1320.

As with so many momentous initiatives throughout history, it was therefore events coupled with the force of nature that were responsible for creating the status quo.

Legend has it that in AD832, when confronted by a formidable army of Saxons at Athelstaneford, in what is now known as East Lothian, King Aengus of the Picts had a dream in which there appeared a white cross of cloud against a blue sky. On the following morning, he looked into the rising sun and seeing the Saltire Cross knew that he would win the day.

From that day onwards, Saint Andrew and the Saltire Cross became the symbols of an emerging Scotland and now a St Andrews Day Service takes place annually at Athelstaneford Kirk before a symbolic flag is ridden overland to the East Lothian market town of Haddington. As in previous years, I shall be there wrapped up in my winter tweeds.

In this edition of Scotland magazine we are also celebrating Glasgow in the aftermath of the XX Commonwealth Games, a city of extraordinary diversity and energy. We look back on the compelling but not always happy life of the writer Gavin Maxwell of otter fame; admire the eloquent and enduring legacy of the painter Phoebe Anna Traquair; visit a Mildlothian castle steeped in the history of the Ramsay family, and embark upon a journey into ancestral research. Enjoy.