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
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
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
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.