Where 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. 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.
The 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.
Many 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.
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