The Pencil.

Knicknamed the ‘pencil’ this is the monument to the battle of Largs. The location is arbitary as we don’t kmow where the battle, if it was one, took place. It is a half scale replica of the tower at Brechin Cathedral, dating from around 1100.

Whatever the case may be regarding the battle, King Haakon of Norway went back to his northern base at Orkney, died shortly thereafter and  and three years later Norway ceded the Scottish islands to the Scots king Alexander the 3rd.

Every Scottish child knows that the Vikings were unsuccessful because while attepting a surprise night attack one Viking cried out in pain when he stepped on a thistle, alerting the Scots. Which is why the thistle is the national symbol os Scotland…

Largs, 1263 and today!


m/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/IMG_20220316_173122_444-300×225.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”225″ />Lovely sunny weather here in Scotland. Having a day off last week we made the 40 minuter journey to the seaside town of Largs. Largs is most famous for the battle of Largs in 1263. At that time the Scottish islands belonged to the king of Norway, and 1263 was the last showdown between Scotland and Norway. Historians disagree about the significance of the battle.  A late colleauge of mine was taught history at Glasgow Univeristy and when they came to the battle of Largs the lecutrer, shouting out ‘the battle of Largs was a mere skirmish!’ flung the chalk duster at the wall with maximum force. A rarely used but highly effective teaching method!

Ukrainian flag flies in Paisley

The Ukrainian flag flies in my home town of Paisley, taking the place of the EU flag which has been removed post Brexit. Behind it fly the flags of Scotland and the United Kingdom. The Scottish saltire represents the cross of Saint Andrew, coincindentally the patron saint of both Russia and the Ukraine. The colours of the Ukrainian flag represent wheat fields and the blue sky.

Andrew and his younger brother Peter were the first two disciples of Jesus Christ. They were fishermem on the Sea of Gallilee. Jesus said to the ‘come with me and I will make you fishers of men’.

Andrew never visited Scotland, though a few of his bones did make the journey by means that are not altogether clear.

One legend is that a monk was told in a dream to to take a few bones from the relics of Saint Andrew in Constantinole to the ends of earth. Another version is that he was to take them to wherever he would be shipwrecked. That turned out to be what is now the city of St.Andrews on the east coast of Scotland. Or, it could be that an English bishop brought them to St.Andrews. We don’t go for that one so much.

Andrew’s brother, Peter, was said to have been Bishop of Rome in the first century A.D. It is said that both elected to be crucified on crosses other that the one on which Christ was crucified, Andrew’s being the x-shaped cross we see in the flag.

Paisley Town Hall

Paisley Town Hall, adjacent to the Abbey. Note the lamposts in Ukrainian colours. Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people, innocent victims of a horrific onslaught, and in particular with friends and family in Kyiv and Odesa. That is the first time I have used the Urainian spelling of those cities. We are so lucky to be living in a peaceful country.