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Encyclopedia > Saint Andrews
  • See St Andrews, New South Wales for St Andrews, Sydney, Australia.
  • See St Andrews, Victoria for St Andrews, Melbourne, Australia.
  • See St Andrews, New Zealand for St Andrews, South Canterbury, New Zealand.
  • See St. Andrews, New Brunswick for St Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada.
  • See St. Andrews, Manitoba for St Andrews, Manitoba, Canada.

Named after Saint Andrew, the Royal Burgh of St Andrews is a coastal town in Fife, Scotland, and the home of golf. It has a population of about 18,000, and stands on the North Sea coast between Edinburgh and Dundee. It is home to Scotland's oldest unversity, the University of St Andrews.

The town has acquired the name of "the Mecca of Golf", partly because the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, founded in 1754, exercises legislative authority over the game, and partly because of its beautiful links (St Andrews Links), acquired by the town in 1894 and containing several courses ranked amongst the finest in the world. For the sake of the game, the bracing air and the bathing which the sandy beach of its bay affords, visitors travel to St Andrews in great numbers.

The Martyrs Memorial, erected to the honour of Patrick Hamilton, George Wishart, and other martyrs of the Reformation epoch, stands at the west end of the Scores on a cliff overlooking the sea.

St Andrews from the top of St Rule’s Tower



The cathedral originated partly in the priory of Canons Regular founded by Bishop Robert (1122 - 1159). At the end of the 17th 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 Andrews cathedral ruins
St Andrews cathedral ruins

Bishop Arnold (1159 - 1162) founded the cathedral in order to supply more accommodation than the church of St Regulus afforded. Of this church in the Romanesque style, probably dating from the 10th century, there remain the square tower, 108 feet in height, and the choir, 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.

The building, finished in the time of Bishop Lamberton (1297 - 1328), was dedicated on 5 July 1318 in a ceremony witnessed by Robert Bruce. When entire it had, besides a central tower, six turrets, of which two at the east and one of the two at the west extremity, rising to a height of 100 feet, remain. A fire partly destroyed the building in 1378, and the restoration and further embellishment were completed in 1440. It was stripped of its altars and images in 1559.

About the end of the 16th 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.

St Rule's tower

St Rule's tower
St Rule's tower

St Rule's tower is located on the cathedral grounds but predates it. Originally, the tower was part of a church built (c. A.D. 1127) to hold the relics of St. Andrew. St. Rule (also know as St. Regulus) is credited with having brought the relics of St. Andrew to the area. Today the tower commands a beautiful view of the town, harbor, sea, and surrounding countryside.


The picturesque ruins of the St Andrews castle stand on a rocky promontory much worn away by the sea. Bishop Roger supposedly erected it about the beginning of the 13th century as an episcopal residence, strongly fortified. English invaders frequently captured it, and after its recapture by the Scottish regent, Andrew Murray, in 1336 - 1337, it was destroyed lest it should fall into their hands. Towards the close of the century Bishop Trail rebuilt it in the form of a massive fortification with a moat on the south and west sides. James I spent some of his early years within it under the care of Bishop Wardlaw, and it was the birthplace of James III 1445. From a window in the castle Cardinal Beaton witnessed the burning of George Wishart in front of the gate (1546), and in the same year a party of Reformers murdered Beaton within it. The castle was taken from the conspirators by the French, among the prisoners captured being John Knox.

Some years afterwards Archbishop Hamilton repaired the castle, but in less massive and less substantial form. By 1656, however, it had fallen into such disrepair that the town 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" (so named from its shape: it was a cell hewn out of the solid rock below the north-west tower), the kitchen tower and a curious subterranean passage. The grounds now form a public garden.

Trinity church

Bishop Turgot founded the town church, formerly the church of the Holy Trinity, in 1112. The early building was a beautiful Norman structure, but at the close of the 18th century the whole, with the exception of little else than the square tower and spire, was re-erected in a plain and ungainly style. In this church John Knox first preached in public (May or June) 1547, and in it, on 4 June 1559, he delivered the famous sermon from St Matthew xxi. 12, 13, which led to the stripping of the cathedral and the destruction of the monastic buildings. The church contains an elaborate monument in white marble to James Sharp, archbishop of St Andrews (assassinated in 1679).

Chapel of the Blackfriars

In South Street stands the lovely ruin of the north transept of the chapel of the Blackfriars monastery founded by Bishop Wishart in 1274; but all traces of the Observantine monastery founded about 1450 by Bishop Kennedy have disappeared, except the well.


St Andrews University classics building
St Andrews University classics building

The great University of St Andrews owed its origin to a society formed in 1410 by Lawrence of Lindores, abbot of Scone, Richard Cornwall, archdeacon of Lothian, William Stephen, afterwards archbishop of Dunblane, and a few others. Bishop Henry Wardlaw (died 1440) issued a charter in 1411 and attracted the most learned men in Scotland as professors. In 1413 Pope Benedict XIII issued six bulls confirming the charter and constituting the society a university. Lectures took place in various parts of the town until 1430, when Wardlaw allowed the lecturers the use of a building called the Paedagogium, or St Johns. Bishop Kennedy founded and richly endowed St Salvator's College in 1456; seven years later it gained the right to confer degrees in theology and philosophy, and by the end of the century was regarded as a constituent part of the university.

In 1512 Prior John Hepburn and Archbishop Alexander Stewart founded St Leonard's College on the site of the buildings which at one time served as a hospital for pilgrims. In the same year Archbishop Stewart nominally changed the original Paedagogium into a college and annexed to it the parish church of St Michael of Tarvet; but its actual erection into a college did not take place until 1537, when it was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Assumption. The outline of the ancient structure has survived, but various restorations have much altered its general character. It forms two sides of a quadrangle, the library and principal's residence standing on the north and the lecture rooms and the old dining-hall to the west.

The University library, which now includes the older college libraries, was founded about the middle of the 17th century, rebuilt in 1764, and improved in 1829 and 1889 - 1890. The lower hall in the older part of the building was used at times as a provincial meeting-place for the Scottish Parliament. When the constitution of the colleges was remodelled in 1579 St Mary's was set apart for theology; and in 1747 the colleges of St Salvator and St Leonard were formed into the United College. A school for girls now occupies the buildings of St Leonards.

The University retains ownership of the tiny St Leonards college chapel, and candle-lit services take place weekly during term-time. The United College occupies the site of St Salvator's College, but the old buildings have been removed, with the exception of the college chapel, now used as the university chapel and the parish church of St Leonard's, a fine Gothic structure, containing an elaborate tomb of Bishop Kennedy and Knox's pulpit; the entrance gateway, with a square clock tower (152 feet high); and the janitor's house with some classrooms above.

The modern building, in the Elizabethan style, was erected between 1827 and 1847. University College, Dundee, became in 1890 affiliated to the University of St Andrews. The House of Lords set aside this arrangement in 1895, but a re-affiliation took place in 1897. In 1887 - 1888 a common dining-hall for the students was established; in 1892 provision was made within the university for the instruction of women; and for the board and residence of women students a permanent building was opened in 1896. To the south of the library medical buildings, erected by the munificence of the 3rd marquess of Bute, were opened in 1899. It was during the principalship of Dr James Donaldson, who succeeded John Tulloch (1823 - 1886), that most of the modern improvements were introduced.

Madras College, founded and endowed by Dr Andrew Bell (1755-1832), a native of the city, is a famous high school.

The town, which is governed by a council, provost and bailies, gives its name to the district group of burghs for returning one member to parliament, the other constituents being the two Anstruthers, Crail, Cupar, Kilrenny and Pittenweem.


A Pictish stronghold probably stood on the site of St Andrews, and tradition declares that Kenneth, the patron saint of Kennoway, established a Culdee monastery here in the 6th century. The foundations of the little church dedicated to the Virgin were discovered on the Kirkheugh in 1860. Another Culdee church of St Mary on the Rock is supposed to have stood on the Lady's Craig, now covered by the sea.

At that period the area had the name of Kilrymont (Gaelic: "the church of the King's Mount") or of Muckross. Another legend tells how Saint Regulus or Rule, the bishop of Patras in Achaea, was guided hither bearing the relics of Saint Andrew. The Pictish king Angus Macfergus gave him a tract of land called the Boat Chase, no doubt the Boar hills of the present day, and the name of the spot was changed to "St Andrews", the saint soon afterwards (747) becoming the patron saint of Scotland.

St Andrews is said to have become a bishopric in the 9th century, and when the Pictish and Scottish churches merged in 908, the primacy was transferred to it from Dunkeld, its bishops becoming thereafter known as bishops of Alban. It became an archbishopric during the primacy of Patrick Graham (1466 - 1478). The town was created a royal burgh in 1124.

In the 16th century St Andrews functioned as one of the most important ports north of the Forth and allegedly had 14,000 inhabitants, but it fell into decay after the Civil War. Daniel Defoe says that when he saw it one-sixth of its houses were ruinous and the sea had so encroached on the harbour that it was never likely to be restored; but the slight improvement in trade and public spirit which Bishop Pococke seemed to detect in 1760 continued throughout the 19th century.

External links

  • St Andrew Links (http://www.standrews.org.uk/)


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