St Andrews Cathedral

St Andrews Cathedral, Scotland

This evening, I am dipping into my photo library to present images and information on St. Andrews Cathedral, which is a popular visitor attraction on the east coast of Scotland.

I think it fair to say that, were it not for the magnet of the Old Course and related golfing interest, St Andrews would not attract the visitor numbers which it does. Nevertheless, golf aside, St Andrews is a pleasant university town about 90 minutes from Edinburgh. The university is one of Scotland’s oldest and most prestigious. There is also an important ruined castle, the West Sands (beach) where the opening scenes  from Chariots of Fire were filmed, interesting medieval  architecture, wide streets and thoroughfares plus the Cathedral on which more below.

St Andrews was the focal point of the Scottish church during the Middle Ages and as such  the city and its associated religious community has played an important role on the history of Scotland. St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland probably because a cult grew up around the relics of the saint during the 8th century AD which were, allegedly, interred in a shrine in what is now St. Andrews.

The Cathedral site, in fact, comprises two religious ruins. The first building (from around AD 1123) was St Rules Church of which only the tall tower remains (bottom image). This may have served as a  beacon for pilgrims heading to the shrine of St Andrew.

The cathedral was begun around AD 1160 and grew to become the pre-eminent church in Scotland.It was originally home to a community of Augustinian canons who had outgrown the facilities at St Rule’s Church. The site extends to 30 acres contained within a substantial medieval wall which remains largely intact today. The completed cathedral was consecrated in 1318. However, the Reformation in 1560  proved a  catalyst for wilful damage and structural decline.The roofs were stripped off and subsequently the building became an effective stone quarry for local building projects with the vacant space being used as a burial ground for local people. Hence we are left with the ruins evident today.

The cathedral was laid out using a variant of the standard cross plan for such a major ecclesiastical structure whilst from a  style perspective it represented a transition from Romanesque to Gothic.

Here is a video clip of the site.

St Andrews Cathedral

St Andrews Cathedral, Scotland

Upon payment of  a small fee it is possible to climb St Rule’s tower (below) and benefit from superb views of the St Andrews area (assuming suitable weather).

St Rules Tower at St Andrews Cathedral

St Rules Tower at St Andrews Cathedral, Scotland

Typically, I include St Andrews in a tour of the Fife Coast and will be visiting the city again within a couple of weeks

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