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Bishop Wishart's counter seal

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

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Keywords: animals, bishops, coats of arms, counter seals, fish, fishing, kings, legends, miracles, monks, queens, religion, rings, River Clyde, saints, salmon, seals

The Counter Seal of Bishop Robert Wishart, made c 1271. The images tell the story of St Kentigern (often known as Mungo) and the fish that features on Glasgow's coat of arms.

According to legend, King Rydderch Hael of Strathclyde suspected that his wife Queen Languoreth was being unfaithful with one of his knights. He searched the knight's possessions while they were on a hunting trip and found a ring belonging to the queen. Angrily the king threw it into the Clyde and returned to the palace, where he commanded his wife to produce the ring. In desperation she sent a message to Kentigern, Glasgow's first bishop, confessing her infidelity and asking for his help. The saintly churchman ordered one of his monks to go to the Clyde and catch a fish for him. To the amazement of all, the ring was found in the fish's mouth and the queen's life was saved.

The top-most scene on the seal depicts the monk presenting the miraculous fish to St Kentigern, while the middle image shows the king with a drawn sword, intending to kill his wife if she does not produce the missing ring to him. At the bottom, the bishop kneels and prays.

Reference: 2596

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums



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