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Home | Explore | Culture | St Andrews Castle and St Andrews Cathedral

St Andrews Castle and St Andrews Cathedral

You are never far from history in St Andrews. W are very lucky to have so much rich and ancient history in our small town.

The town is named after Saint Andrews the Apostle. There has been an important church in St Andrews since at least 747 AD.

The settlement of St Andrews grew to the west of St Andrews Cathedral with the southern side of the Scores to the north and the Kinness burn to the south. The burgh became the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland, a position which was held until the Scottish Reformation. The famous cathedral, the largest in Scotland, now lies in ruins.

St Andrews Cathedral and St Rules Tower

St Andrews Cathedral was built in 1158 and was the centre of the Medieval Catholic Church. After catholic mass was outlawed during the 16th Century Reformation it fell in to disuse. The ruins show that the building was approximately 119 m (390 ft) long, and is the largest church to have been built in Scotland.

St Rule’s tower is located in the cathedral grounds but predates it, having served as the church of the priory up to the early 12th century. Legend credits St Rule (also known as St Regulus) with bringing relics of St Andrew to the area from their original location at Patras in Greece. Today the tower commands an admirable view of the town, harbour, sea, and surrounding countryside.

Today you can wander round the ruins or climb St Rules Tower at your leisure and soak up these ancient buildings.

St Andrews Castle

St Andrews Castle was the official residence of Scotland’s leading bishop (and later archbishop) throughout the Middle Ages. Its size signalled the power and wealth of these important churchmen.

Protestant preacher George Wishart was imprisoned in the castle’s ‘bottle’ dungeon and Cardinal Beaton’s murdered body was also kept in the horrible dank hole. The assassination of Beaton sparked the brutal siege of 1546–47, when opposing sides dug a remarkable mine and countermine into the rock close to the castle battlements. You can descend in to this mine yourself today.

St Andrews Castle was left without a resident or a purpose when bishops were abolished in 1592 and it fell into ruin. In 1801, the Great Hall collapsed and most of it plunged into the sea. There were further losses until a sea wall was built in 1886.

Both attraction should be top of the list for any visitor to our shores.

To find out more about entry prices and opening times for both The Cathedral and The Castle, click the link below.

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