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Castles of Scotland
St Andrews Cathedral


St Andrews CathedralIn St Andrews on the A91. Tel: 01334 472563

The remains still give a vivid impression of the scale of what was once the largest cathedral in Scotland. Climb St Rule's Tower for a magnificent view of the town and visit the Cathedral's collection of Celtic and medieval carved stones.

Legend says that Saint Rule (or Regulus) was the guardian of the relics of St Andrew at Patras in Greece in the Fourth century.

After being warned by an angel that Constantinople was going to remove them, Regulas resolved to take them elsewhere. His boat was wrecked off the Fife coast and the bones of Saint Andrew were brought to Kilrimont and interred in a shrine.

The early history of St Andrews is uncertain but there was a monastic community their during the reign of Oengus, King of Picts, who ruled between 729 and 761. In 943 King Constantine II abdicated the throne to become leader of the monastic community.

Shortly before this time Kilrimont became the headquarters of the Scottish Church because Ionas leadership had become impracticable because of Norse raids along the west coast in 849.

In about 1070 Malcolm III married the Saxon Princess Margaret. She was deeply religious and founded a Benedictine priory at Dunfermline and her devotion to St Andrew was shown when she provided the Queens ferry over the Forth for pilgrims to the shrine. She was later canonised as a Saint.

Margaretís son Alexander I made three attempts to appoint bishops to Kilrimont to help reform the church. The third attempt proved successful when Robert became bishop in 1123 and introduced a community of Augustinian canons in 1144.

At this time the name Celtic place name Kilrimont was changed to St Andrews and applied to Bishop Roberts new cathedral priory and the new burgh which he established in its shadow.

In 1160 Bishop Arnold started building the cathedral concentrating on the Eastern end which contained the most important parts. The work took many years. By the 1270ís most of the nave to the west was completed when a great gale blew down the west front.

The outbreak of the Wars of Independence with England in 1296 prevented consecration of the completed building until 5 July 1318, four years after Robert the Bruces victory at the Battle of Bannockburn. It was then carried out with great ceremony in the presence of the King.

In 1378 again disaster struck when the upper part of the west front was destroyed by a great fire.

The reformation of the Scottish Church in 1560 had a devastating effect on the cathedral priory and other churches in the town. By then much of the damage had been done when John Knox preached in the parish church the congregation were moved to tear down the rich medieval furnishings of the cathedral.

The church seems to have been abandoned almost immediately and was soon to be used as the local quarry.


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