The history of St Cuthbert's Duck

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Abstract / Description of output

ST Cuthbert has long been associated with Britain’s largest duck, otherwise known as the Cuddy or eider duck (Somateria mollissima). The eider duck is a true sea duck, whose gregarious character and gentle nature in the face of the harsh realities of life on the sea have so often been noted by visitors to the Farne Islands, and other eider haunts. Chief among those visitors was St Cuthbert, to whom the protection of these islands and the eider duck can, in many ways, be traced. The stained glass window, depicting St Cuthbert in Edinburgh City Chambers, shows two male eider ducks flying over his head, while at his feet two otters can be seen, supposedly drying him after one of his many immersions in the cold waters of the North Sea It is, therefore, entirely appropriate that we pause a while and contemplate the eider duck, a remarkable creature who earned the appreciation and protection of Cuthbert. In doing so, we will consider the perfection of the eider’s design and what it takes for such a remarkable creature to survive in the troubled waters her kind, and Cuthbert himself, came to call home. We will consider aspects of the human species’ at times turbulent relationship and co-existence with the eider duck, including the harvesting of eider down and eider eggs. This appreciation of what the eider has done for the human species allows us then to reciprocate by considering how ecological awareness of the duck’s threatened status is informing how we repay this debt, and provide them with the care, protection and conservation that is their due.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
Specialist publicationVeterinary Times
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Eider
  • St Cuthbert
  • Ecological Awareness
  • Conservation
  • Wildlife conservation


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