Celebrating Scotland's Patron Saint On St Andrews Day Monday 30 November 2015

St Andrew

St. Andrew's Day (Scottish Gaelic: Là Naomh Aindrea) is Scotland's official national day. Who was St Andrew and why is he Scotland's Patron Saint?

St Andrew has been the patron saint of Scotland from at least the mid tenth century and legend says long before. He was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee in the early 1st century and is the brother of St Peter. According to the Gospel of St John, Andrew was a follower of the preacher John the Baptist and then became a disciple of Jesus who he recognised as the Messiah. A messiah is associated with Abrahamic religions which originate in the Middle East. Christianity is one of these religions and Jesus Christ in that religion is seen as the son of god. Andrew was one of the twelve apostles who was present at the Last Supper. Interestingly his name, Andrew, is not Hebrew in origin as might be expected, but Greek. St Andrew is thought to have died in the mid to late 1st century and was said to have been crucified on a diagonal or X-shaped cross which is now known as St Andrew’s cross.

The spread of Christianity to Scotland mainly came from Ireland in the fifth century. The national flag of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Bratach na h-Alba) is a white cross against a blue background. It is known as the Saltire and legend dates its origins back to King  Óengus mac Fergusa (Óengus II) who defeated a force of invading Angles in the ninth century. The legend is that in 832 AD the Scottish King prayed to St Andrew for help to defeat the English.  Against the blue sky the diagonal white cross appeared and it was on such a cross that St Andrew had been martyred.  The English were beaten and honouring his promise prior to the great victory Óengus made St Andrew the patron saint of Scotland. The association of St Andrew with Scotland goes back further than the reign of King Óengus II to Óengus I who was King from 732 to 761 AD. Legend also says that relics of St Andrew were brought from Constantinople in about the middle of the tenth century to the place where the town of St Andrew’s (Scottish Gaelic: Cill Rìmhinn) now stands.

Gods and Goddesses of the Celtic Pantheon - Part II

The Druids were the caretakers of Celtic culture.  When he came into contact with the Druids during his conquest of Celtic Gaul, Julius Caesar confirmed their religious role:

The Druids officiate at the worship of the gods, regulate public and private sacrifices, and give rulings on all religious questions.  Large numbers of young men flock to them for instruction, and are held in great honour by the people.

Portrayal of an Arch-Druid.

Had it not been for the Celtic religious ban on committing the wisdom and learning of the Druids to the written word, our understanding of the Celtic Pantheon would be much greater today than it is.

Alas too few texts have survived the savagery and wanton destruction directed at the Celts over the centuries especially during the emergence of the modern nation states of England and France and the wholesale destruction in Ireland during its occupation. The surviving written Celtic source documents are due to accidents of history and geography, mainly Irish and Welsh in origin. The Folkloric traditions of all the Six Nations augment the written record and provide an important source of our knowledge of the Celtic pantheon.

This article is the second part of our survey of the Gods and Goddesses of the Celtic Pantheon. Read Part I here.

A tale of old Redruth, Cornwall - The men overseas for mining work, their wives left behind in poverty

Lower Fore Street, Redruth, Cornwall in 1907

My maternal Great Granny Eliza Goldsworthy, whose maiden name was Hicks with her family originating from the Isles of Scilly, was herself born in North Country, Redruth in 1880. Her many younger brothers all died during the Spanish ‘flu epidemic of 1919 during which time the ground was too hard and frozen to bury them. They were laid out in the house pending a thaw to allow for their internment.

Co-op Stores, Falmouth Road, Redruth as it is today - built over the site of Great Granny's cottage

When Great Granny Goldsworthy first married in the latter years of the nineteenth century she moved with her husband John to a cottage in Falmouth Road, Redruth. This was situated on the spot now occupied by Lanyon House, previously a garage, and the now Co-op stores.

John’s father was landlord of the Feather’s Public House just by St. Euny Church and then the King’s Head Public House situated where the Regal Cinema now stands. His father’s cousin was landlord of the Trefusis Arms at Southgate, Redruth.

Author of Quatermass Series Remembered at Manx LitFest

Matthew Kneale

Nigel Kneale is remembered locally for being the Island's most successful radio, television and film script writer, and more broadly for writing groundbreaking screenplays for the cult 1950s BBCTV science fiction series, Quatermass. But his son, Matthew Kneale, (also a published author) was invited to speak at this year's Manx LitFest, when he made two very successful appearances in Douglas and Peel to talk of his own work and that of his father.

Gods and Goddesses of the Celtic Pantheon - Part I

Celtic Pantheon

Celtic Mythology is a foundation stone supporting, along with the language, music and dance, our collective Celtic identity. Celtic Mythology is rooted in the Oral traditions of the six Celtic nations and in surviving manuscripts. Too few texts have survived the savagery and wanton destruction directed at the Celts over the centuries during the emergence of the modern nation states of England and France. The surviving written Celtic source documents are due to accidents of history and geography, mainly Irish and Welsh in origin. The Folkloric traditions of the Six Nations often amplify and sometimes deviate from the written record and provide an important source of our knowledge of the Celtic pantheon. This article is the first part of our survey of the Gods and Goddesses of the Celtic Pantheon.

Tuatha Dé Danann

Tuatha Dé Danann

The Tuatha Dé Danann form a significant feature in Irish, Scottish and Manx mythology. They are Celtic pre-Christian gods with supernatural ability and were of great importance to Gaelic people. They belong to the Otherworld (Aos Si) community whose world was reached through mists, hills, lakes, ponds, wetland areas, caves, ancient burial sites, cairns and mounds. Their association with ancient Neolithic and Bronze Age burial mounds is probably linked to the importance these sites had for the people of pre-history. They were places of communal interment for the ancestors of the Celts of northwest Europe who are descended from the native Neolithic peoples of these lands. Their story was passed on for many centuries in oral tradition. Many of these legends were recorded in a collection of poems and texts, some dating from the third century AD, and compiled in the eleventh century by Christian scholars in such works as the Leabhar Gabhála Éireann known in English as The Book of Invasions.

Interview with Dr. Jenny Butler: The Celtic Folklore Traditions of Halloween

Dr. Jenny Butler

By popular demand, we are re-featuring this exclusive interview with Dr. Jenny Butler, originally published in October 2013.

The ancestry of modern Halloween, which needs no introduction here, leads on a straight line back to Samhain, the Celtic feast day of the Dead. One of the four annual feast days of the Celtic world, Samhain was such an important feast day that it did not escape the notice of Julius Caesar as he ravaged Celtic Gaul who remarked that the Celtic god of death and winter was worshipped on this day.

Samhain was the principal feast day of Celtic Ireland prior to the arrival of Christianity. Over time, the Christianisation of Celtic religious belief re-made Samhain into All Saints Day, a principal Holy Day of the Catholic Church, which as the name of the Holy Day suggests, gives a nod to its roots as the Celtic feast of the dead. The smooth transition from Celtic Samhain to the Christian holiday honouring dead Christian Saints is just another example of how expert were St. Patrick’s missionaries in weaving Celtic myth into Christian belief making it seem as if the new religion was really an extension of the existing faith in the Gods of the Celtic Pantheon.

Transceltic are honoured to have had the opportunity to interview Dr Jenny Butler on her insights into the origins of Halloween. Dr Butler is a folklorist based at University College Cork's Folklore and Ethnology Department with a PhD thesis on the topic of Irish Neo-Paganism. Dr Butler’s principal interests are in the areas of mythology, belief narratives, folk religion, ritual and festival. A member of The Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions (ISASR), she has numerous articles to her credit. Dr Butler is currently working on a book about Irish contemporary Paganism.

The Natural Wonder of the Manx Glens


The Isle of Man is well known for its many glens. Glen is a word from the Celtic Goidelic language (gleann in Scottish and Irish Gaelic, glion in Manx).  There are many mountain and coastal glens spread around the Isle of Man (Manx Gaelic: Mannin), as many as 120. These beautiful ‘V’ and ‘U’-shaped and often wood sided valleys have been carved over millions of years by glacial erosion and the water that constantly flows toward the sea from the Manx mountains and hills. A series of these glens are known as the Manx National Glens that are preserved and maintained by a department of the Manx government; access is free to everyone. They are noted havens of peace and tranquillity with tumbling waterfalls, deep swirling rock pools and abundant vegetation. Particularly in the 19th century, paths were laid, bridges built, and extensive tree planting carried out that enhanced the natural beauty and gave easier access to those who visited these remarkable places.

Return Home of The Viking Lewis Chessmen

Lewis Chessmen

In 1831 a Viking hoard was discovered by Malcolm Macleod near Uig, Lewis (Scottish Gaelic: Leòdin) in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Leòdhas, Na h-Eileanan Siar, Alba) . This hoard contained 93 carvings: one buckle, 14 pieces of a game called tables and 78 medieval chess pieces. The chess pieces were found in a sand dune where they seem to have been placed in a small, drystone chamber. The Norse beautifully crafted chess pieces, found in near pristine condition except for some discolouration, were made from walrus tusks and whale teeth and date from sometime between 1150-1200 AD. There is some discussion about whether the set was made in Norway or Iceland.

Isle of Lewis

Nobody knows how the pieces came to be buried in the sand in the Isle of Lewis. However, we do know that at the approximate time the chessmen were made the Isle of Lewis belonged to the Kingdom of Norway. The Viking interventions in this area began in the 8th century AD. The Islands of Scotland and the Isle of Man formed the Northern and Southern Isles. The Northern Isles of Shetland and Orkney were known to the Norse as Norðreyjar. The Southern Isles forming the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles (sometimes known as The Kingdom of the Isles) consisting of the Hebrides, the islands in the Firth of Clyde and the Isle of Man were known as Suðreyjar. Lewis was part of this Kingdom of Mann and the Isles and so the Lewis chessmen date from the time of Viking rule.

Redruth International Mining and Pasty Festival 2015

Redruth International Mining and Pasty Festival

The old Cornish mining town of Redruth in Cornwall once again celebrates its ever popular Mining and Pasty Festival with celebrations taking place from Friday 11th September until Sunday 13th September, 2015.

The Mining and Pasty Festival is a three day event celebrating the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Redruth through pasties, mining and music.  The event is focussed around the town centre and is completely free to attend.

Friday 11th, which is Miners’ Day, sees Murdoch House opened, the home of the Scottish engineer and inventor William Murdoch (21 August 1754 – 15 November 1839) with themed displays touching on Redruth’s close links with Real del Monte in Mexico where many Cornish miners made their home in search of mining work and with research material made available by the Cornish Global Migration Project.

Kresen Kernow - The Cornish Studies Centre is hosting events staged by the Trevithick Society highlighting the industrial trailblazers of Redruth and including a tour of the new multi million pound Cornish National Library and Archive Centre development currently under construction whilst the town centre will be alive with music and tales from the past including one of a miner who auctioned off his wife and emigrated!

Subscribe to Transceltic - Home of the Celtic nations RSS