Discovering Albion – day 5: Déjà vu…

scotland trip jan 15 061Where do ladybirds go for winter? I can tell you that… they go to Aspatria. The carvings on the gateposts were full of them. I had recognised the name immediately, because it is so unusual. Of course, I couldn’t quite remember why I recognised it particularly… but the fact that I had probably meant the church would be worth a quick visit. I was pretty certain I should know why I remembered it too… I knew it was something to do with St Patrick, who keeps cropping up lately and vague ghosts of memory flitted around my mind, half seen shadows desperate to be noticed.

scotland trip jan 15 074The church is dedicated to St Kentigern… also known as St Mungo. It is told that he passed through Apspatria and preached by the Holy Well on his way into exile in Wales. Kentigern’s mother was a princess, raped by Owain mab Urien. Her father, furious, had the pregnant princess thrown from a cliff. She survived and was then put to sea in a coracle. She drifted to land at Culross where her son was born.

scotland trip jan 15 084Many old folk tales are bound up with Kentigern’s story, including the one about the fish that is found elsewhere. King Riderch accused his wife, Queen Languoreth, of being unfaithful. He threw her ring into the river secretly and demanded that she show it to him, accusing her of having given it to her paramour. Distraught the queen sought Kentigern’s help; he commanded that a fish be pulled from the river… and when it was gutted the ring was found in its belly.scotland trip jan 15 118In spite of the tales about the saint, at first glance it didn’t look at all promising… more Victorian repro than ancient stone, but if there is one thing we have learned it is that, regardless of what we are taught in the writing community, you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. We parked the car and headed for the gate… a particularly nice one too, all carved with leaves. With the sun so strong behind us our shadows traced ghosts of their own upon the walls…I couldn’t get a shot without them, though in some ways it is rather nice to have them there. One, tall and stylish… so he informs me… the other, much shorter and holding up a camera. Pretty much a typical stance.

collageAspatria means the Ash of St Patrick. It is said that when the Irish saint came here he thrust his staff of ash-wood into the ground where it took root. It is also said that a sacred spring welled from the earth… the same that now stands in the churchyard. We missed that. There are benefits to doing research first

collage2An avenue of yew trees led up to the church, though we, of course, wandered round the back… we usually do, never knowing what might be hiding in plain sight. We couldn’t have missed this, though… another Gosforth Cross! Standing there, it looked identical to the one we had seen the day before… Largely, of course, because it was. Rev. William Slater Calverley, who lived in the last half of the 19th century, was an antiquarian and incumbent of St Kentigern’s church. Working closely with a master mason he had the replica made, reproducing all the details. Although the Aspatria cross is only a youngster therefore, it does allow a very clear view of the carvings of the weatherbeaten cross in Gosforth.

scotland trip jan 15 101Calverley’s grave lies just a few feet away, itself topped by a Celtic cross, intricately carved and modelled on the cross at another St Mungo’s not far away at Dearham. I can’t believe how much we missed… still, we can’t see everything… but by now we were wondering just what did wait inside the church…

scotland trip jan 15 248

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
This entry was posted in adventure, Churches, Photography, scotland road trip, travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Discovering Albion – day 5: Déjà vu…

  1. kanzensakura says:

    This is just incredible. Who knew? All these wonderful ladybugs.


  2. G. M. Vasey says:

    The sacred well and the tree of life – polarity like the sword and the grail….. nice.


  3. …just astonished at the stream of superb photography … :):)


  4. fransiweinstein says:

    You really are a wonderful photographer Sue. And I get to travel and explore with you :). Thank you!


  5. noelleg44 says:

    Surprise, surprise on this day! Loved the Lady Bird beetles -they do migrate. We once had a swarm of them on the side of our house, turning the weathered gray to a bright orange. i overwintered a stray late one in my kitchen, feeding it slices of apple for liquid.


  6. Running Elk says:

    Interesting. Patrick ash, Kentigern oak… (per that much maligned and misinterpreted little poem… 😉 ) much to wrangle with now… 🙂


  7. Ah Kentigern….my local lad….now that he’s under your skin there’s no escape! There are of course a few differing versions of the tales depending as always on who is telling them 🙂


  8. I’ve also never seen so many ladybugs. That gate and the crosses are outstanding.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.