St Andrews Cathedral, Fife, Scotland

This evening, I am posting information on (the ruined) St. Andrews Cathedral in Fife, east of Scotland.


This university town 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 at what is now St. Andrews.

Cathedral Site

The Cathedral site, in fact, comprises two religious ruins. The first building (from around AD 1123) was St Rule’s Church of which only the tall tower remains  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.

St Andrews Cathedral with burials in foreground.

St Rule’s Tower


Most of the site enjoys free access. Separate fees are payable to enter the visitor centre and climb up St Rule’s Tower.

St Andrews Castle

Located a short walk away, on the coast. This castle was the power base of the archbishops of St Andrews and hence had a working connection with the nearby Cathedral. The castle is also a visitor attraction.

St Andrews Castle

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