An ossuary containing partial skeletal remains of the apostle Andrew was shipwrecked of the east coast of Scotland near the town that would later predictably bear the saints name. Miraculously but expectedly the ossuary survived the wreck and was carried safe ashore by angelically guided waves. Soon to become a point of pilgrimage from throughout the British Isles the few shattered bones were the only portion of the patron saint to ever grace those blessed isles. The saltern, the particular form of cross upon which Andrew was crucified was adopted, illustrated as an ermine charger upon azure field, as the battle flag of the kingdom in direct homage to the first fisher of men. The story is without doubt either myth, legend or local invention, there being no proof or even the slightest corroboration for any of the supposed facts. That the ‘bones’ were never confiscated by the English crown, as was the stone of Scone, and removed to rest in one of the great southern cathedrals suggests that the relics must have been either misplaced quite soon after their fortuitous recovery from the tumultuous sea or indeed never existed.
I relate this tale simply to reinforce that rumor, gossip or myth can over an extended period of time produce apparent truth from fantasy. Whether the Andrew legend has any factual merit doesn’t matter, all history having two distinct yet unrelated roots, provable fact and questionable legend, most accepted ‘records’ being an amalgam of the two in percentile. Any imagining repeated often and loudly will carry as much weight as a definitive truth. For example, I with a multitude of other children was taught in school that the Roman Emperor Nero fiddled while his capital burned. This course of events was quoted as unquestionable, but to the present-day analytical scholar is obvious fabrication on a multitude of levels. That the pilgrim fathers took Thanksgiving dinner with their native neighbors is still thrust upon the collective conscience of the young of the United States to this very day, carefully avoiding the less tasteful but obvious truth. The simplification, sanitization and political restructuring of history is a natural process in socialization. What we ‘know’ controls what we understand, believe and desire. This process of reconfiguring events to support ritual and purpose is the basis of all societal construct.