St Andrew's Cathedral Front

St Andrew's Cathedral Front

View from St Rule's Tower

View from St Rule's Tower


The Cathedral of St Andrew (often referred to as St Andrews Cathedral) is a ruined Roman Catholic cathedral in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. It was built in 1158 and became the centre of the Medieval Catholic Church in Scotland as the seat of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and the Bishops and Archbishops of St Andrews. It fell into disuse and ruin after Catholic mass was outlawed during the 16th-century Scottish Reformation. It is currently a monument in the custody of Historic Scotland. The ruins indicate that the building was approximately 119 metres (391 feet) long, and is the largest church to have been built in Scotland.


The cathedral was founded to supply more accommodation than the older church of St. Regulus (St. Rule) afforded. This older church, located on what became the cathedral grounds, had been built in the Romanesque style. Today, there remains the square tower, 33 metres (108 feet) high, and the quire, of very diminutive proportions. On a plan of the town from about 1530, a chancel appears, and seals affixed to the city and college charters bear representations of other buildings attached. To the east is an even older religious site, the Church of St Mary on the Rock, the Culdee house that became a Collegiate Church. Work began on the new cathedral in 1158 and continued for over a century. The west end was blown down in a storm and rebuilt between 1272 and 1279. It was dedicated on 5 July 1318, in a ceremony before King Robert I . When intact it had, besides a central tower, six turrets; of these remain two at the east and one of the two at the western extremity, rising to a height of 30 metres (100 feet). A fire partly destroyed the building in 1378; restoration and further embellishment were completed in 1440. The cathedral was served by a community of Augustinian Canons, the St Andrews Cathedral Priory, which were successors to the Culdees of the Celtic church. Greyfriar (Franciscan) and Blackfriar (Dominican) friars had properties in the town by the late 15th century and possibly as late as 1518.


In 1559, during the Scottish reformation, the building was stripped of its altars and images; and by 1561 it had been abandoned and left to fall into ruin. At about the end of the sixteenth century the central tower apparently gave way, carrying with it the north wall. Afterwards large portions of the ruins were taken away for building purposes, and nothing was done to preserve them until 1826. Since then it has been tended with scrupulous care, an interesting feature being the cutting out of the ground-plan in the turf. The principal portions extant, partly Norman and partly Early Scottish, are the east and west gables, the greater part of the south wall of the nave and the west wall of the south transept. At the end of the seventeenth century some of the priory buildings remained entire and considerable remains of others existed, but nearly all traces have now disappeared except portions of the priory wall and the archways, known as The Pends.


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. The building was retained to allow worship to continue uninterrupted during the building of its much larger successor. Originally, the tower and adjoining choir were part of the church built in the 11th century to house the relics of St Andrew. The nave, with twin western turrets, and the apse of the church no longer stand. The church's original appearance is illustrated in stylised form on some of the early seals of the Cathedral Priory. 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. Beautifully built in grey sandstone ashlar, and (for its date) immensely tall, it is a land- and sea-mark seen from many miles away, its prominence doubtless meant to guide pilgrims to the place of the Apostle's relics. In the Middle Ages a spire atop the tower made it even more prominent. The tower was originally ascended using ladders between wooden floors, but a stone spiral staircase was inserted in the 18th century.


The visitor can view early and later medieval sculpture and other relics found on the site in the cathedral museum. On-street parking is available nearby. The site has three entrances: two on North Street, one on Gregory Place. The North Street entrance by the war memorial, has a gravel path that leads to the Gregory Place gate. From the Gregory Place gate, a grass path leads through the graveyard and around the site ruins to the visitor centre. The southern North Street entrance has 10 steps down to the grassed monument. The visitor centre is accessed over cut grass and a 100m section with narrow strips of concrete at the entrance. The shop is within the visitor centre and has steps leading into it from both sides. The museum has steps, but step-free access is possible via a ramp, please ask a steward for assistance. St Andrews Cathedral is mainly at ground level, though there are steps and raised thresholds throughout the grounds. Many gravestones and other trip hazards surround the main walkways. Entry to St Rule’s Tower is through a narrow turnstile (48cm) that requires a token (included in the admission price). A narrow (69cm) and uneven spiral staircase leads to the top. An adapted toilet is available within the grounds of the cathedral. Assistance dogs are welcome.

St Andrews Castle Front

St Andrews Castle Front

St Andrews Castle Courtyard

St Andrews Castle Courtyard

St Andrews Castle

St Andrew's Castle is a picturesque ruin located in the coastal Royal Burgh of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland. The castle sits on a rocky promontory overlooking a small beach called Castle Sands and the adjoining North Sea. There has been a castle standing at the site since the times of Bishop Roger (1189-1202), son of the Earl of Leicester. It housed the burgh’s wealthy and powerful bishops while St Andrews served as the ecclesiastical centre of Scotland during the years before the Protestant Reformation. In their Latin charters, the Archbishops of St Andrews wrote of the castle as their Palace, signing, "apud Palatium nostrum." The castle's grounds are now maintained by Historic Scotland, and are entered through a visitor centre with displays on its history. Some of the best surviving carved fragments from the castle are displayed in the centre, which also has a shop.


During the Wars of Scottish Independence, the castle was destroyed and rebuilt several times as it changed hands between the Scots and the English. Soon after the sack of Berwick in 1296 by Edward I of England, the castle was taken and made ready for the English king in 1303. In 1314, however, after the Scottish victory at Bannockburn, the castle was retaken and repaired by Bishop William Lamberton, Guardian of Scotland, a loyal supporter of King Robert the Bruce. The English had recaptured it again by the 1330s and reinforced its defences in 1336, but to no avail. Sir Andrew Moray, Regent of Scotland in the absence of David II, recaptured it after a siege lasting three weeks. Shortly after this, in 1336-1337, it was destroyed by the Scots to prevent the English from once again using it as a stronghold. It remained in this ruined state until Bishop Walter Trail rebuilt it at the turn of the century. His castle forms the basis of what can be seen today. He completed work on the castle in about 1400 and died within its walls in 1401.


Several notable figures spent time in the castle over the next several years. James I of Scotland (1406-1437) received part of his education from Bishop Henry Wardlaw, the founder of St Andrews University in 1410. A later resident, Bishop James Kennedy, was a trusted advisor of James II of Scotland (1437-1460). In 1445 the castle was the birthplace of James III of Scotland. During these years, the castle also served as a notorious prison. The castle's bottle dungeon is a dank and airless pit cut out of solid rock below the north-west tower. It housed local miscreants who fell under the Bishop's jurisdiction as well as several more prominent individuals such as David Stuart, Duke of Rothesay in 1402, Duke Murdoch in 1425, and Archbishop Patrick Graham, who was judged to be insane and imprisoned in his own castle in 1478.


During the Scottish Reformation, the castle became a centre of religious persecution and controversy. Referring to the bottle dungeon the Scottish reformer, John Knox, wrote, "Many of God's Children were imprisoned here." In 1521 James Beaton, then Archbishop of Glasgow, won the seat of St Andrews and took up residence in the castle. Beaton altered the defences to enable the castle to withstand a heavy artillery attack, which was a threat as tensions grew between English Protestants and Scottish Catholics. In 1538 James Beaton was succeeded by his ambitious and wealthy nephew David Beaton. Cardinal David Beaton's strong opposition to the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots, with Prince Edward (later King Edward VI), the son and heir of Henry VIII of England, helped to spark renewed fighting in 1544.


Scottish Protestants were increasingly viewed as dangerous turncoats who sided with the English. In 1546 David Beaton imprisoned the Protestant preacher George Wishart (1513-1546) in the castle’s Sea Tower and had him burnt at the stake in front of the castle walls on March 1. Today, brick lettering with his initials marks the spot where he died. In May of that same year, Wishart's friends conspired against the cardinal. On May 26 they gained entry to the castle by disguising themselves as masons when some building work was in progress. After overcoming the garrison, they murdered Cardinal Beaton and hung his body from his window on the front of the castle.


Following this murder, the Protestants took refuge in the castle and formed the first Protestant congregation in Scotland. A long siege was ordered by the Scottish Regent, James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran. In October 1546 a mine was begun by the attackers which was successfully counter-mined by the defenders. Both the mine and counter-mine cut through solid rock. They were rediscovered in 1879 and remain open to the public today. Arran heard that an English army was on its way to relieve the Castle and asked Fife Lairds like John Wemyss of that Ilk to come by 4 November 1546, bringing his followers and whatever artillery they had to resist a sea invasion. Although Henry VIII made plans to assist the Protestants within the castle, the invasion never came and his son Edward VI did not send aid.


During an armistice in April 1547, John Knox entered the castle and served as the garrison's preacher for the remainder of the siege. For a time Knox had the freedom to pass to and from the castle to preach in the parish church. This peaceful interlude came to end, however, when a French fleet arrived bringing an Italian engineer Leone Strozzi who directed a devastating artillery bombardment to dislodge the Protestant lairds. The lairds knew an expert was in the field when their own Italian engineer observed cannon being winched into position with ropes rather than exposing the besiegers to their fire. Guns were also placed on St Salvator's and the cathedral towers. One of the largest Scottish cannon was called "thrawynmouthe." The castle was quickly rendered indefensible; within six hours according to Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie. The defeated Protestants were taken away: some were imprisoned in France while others, including Knox, were condemned to the galleys.


Following this Protestant defeat, the castle was substantially rebuilt by Archbishop John Hamilton, the illegitimate brother of Regent Arran, and successor to Dr. David Cardinal Beaton. But following his death in 1571 it was mainly occupied by a succession of constables. Parliament separated the castle from the archbishopric in 1606, and it was granted to the Earl of Dunbar, constable since 1603. In 1612 it was returned to Archbishop George Gledstanes, but further attempts to re-establish the former estates of the Archbishop failed. With the eventual success of the Reformation in Scotland, the office of the bishop was increasingly eroded until it was finally abolished by William of Orange in 1689. Deprived of any function, the castle fell rapidly into ruin. By 1656, it had fallen into such disrepair that the burgh council ordered the use of its materials in repairing the pier. The principal remains are a portion of the south wall enclosing a square tower, the "bottle dungeon," the kitchen tower, and the underground mine and counter-mine.


There is no parking on site, but visitors can be dropped off at the castle. On-street parking may be available nearby. The nearest car park is at the Bruce Embankment. Access to the visitor centre is down 5 steps (with handrails) or a ramp. Inside, the centre is on the level. A multi-sensory exhibition in the visitor centre includes audio-visual presentations and dioramas. The castle is 50m from the visitor centre, over grass reinforced with narrow strips of concrete for wheelchair users. Entry to the castle is over a wooden bridge. Inside is a grass courtyard, from which much of the castle can be seen. The first and second floors of the south range are reached via stone spiral staircases (with handrails). The sea and kitchen towers are up straight stone staircases (with handrails). Entry to the mine and countermine is down very uneven rock steps. The passage is very low and narrow. The Grounds are mainly grass and suitable for wheelchairs. An adapted toilet is next to the exhibition, in the visitor centre. Assistance dogs are welcome.


St Andrews Museum

The St Andrews Museum is a museum focusing on the history of the town of St Andrews in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. Often overlooked by visitors rushing between the Cathedral and the Castle, this little museum is a delight. Housed in a 17th Century house on North Street, it’s run by local charity the St Andrews Preservation Trust. There are re-creations of old St Andrews shops and buildings, a changing programme of temporary exhibitions, and a lovely sheltered garden to enjoy. Opening hours are from 14:00 to 17:00 daily during exhibitions. Private tours are available by appointment at other times. There are two cafés close to the Museum, and public toilets are a five minute walk away in Church Square. There are no parking facilities, toilets or café offered at the Museum itself. Free Admission. No wheelchair access with the exception of the Research Room and the garden. Located at : 12 North Street, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9PW.


Location : St Andrews Cathedral, The Pends, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9QL

Location : St Andrews Castle, The Scores, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9AR

Transport Cathedral: Leuchars (National Rail) then bus (92, 99). Bus Routes : 9B, 64, 92, 95, 98 and 99 stop close by.

Transport Castle: Leuchars (National Rail) then bus (92). Bus Routes : 5, 9B, 64, 92 and CG1 stop near by.

Opening Times Cathedral: October 1st to March 31st, Daily, 10:00 to 16:00;  April 1st to September 30th, Daily, 09:30 to 17:30

Opening Times Castle: October 1st to March 31st, Daily, 10:00 to 16:00;  April 1st to September 30th, Daily, 09:30 to 17:30

Tickets Cathedral: Adults £4.50;  Concessions £3.60; Children (5 - 15) £2.70

Tickets Castle : Adults £5.50;  Concessions £4.40; Children (5 - 15) £3.30

Tickets Cathedral + Castle: Adults £8.00;  Concessions £6.40; Children (5 - 15) £4.80

Tel. Cathedral: 01334 472 563

Tel. Castle: 01334 477 196

Tel. Museum : 01334 477629