Billy Visits Scotland – St. Andrews Cathedral

This chapter in Billy’s travel journal was one that I enjoyed but he did not like it much. He enjoyed the view walking towards St. Andrews but once we entered, he was disappointed that it wasn’t another castle where he could play king. When I explained to him what all the stones where that were everywhere (headstones) he scurried back into the backpack and didn’t want to come out again.

Next to St. Andrews Bay and the North Sea in St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland lies the remains of the cathedral of St. Andrew, St. Andrews Cathedral.  The area around the cathedral at St.Andrews has been a site of worship since 700AD when the alleged relics of Saint Andrew were brought here by Saint Rule. St.Rules Church was built in 1123 and extended in 1144, but was superseded when the larger cathedral was built. All that remains of the church is a small part of the chancel and the 100 foot tower.

St. Rules Church remains on the left and the remaining wall of St. Andrews Cathedral on the right.

St. Andrews was built in 1158 and became the center of the medieval Catholic Church in Scotland.  During the 16th century Scottish Reformation, Catholic mass was outlawed and it fell into disuse and ruin.

In June 1559 during the reformation, a Protestant mob incited by the preaching of John Knox ransacked the Cathedral, the interior of the building was destroyed. The Cathedral fell into decline following the attack and became a source of building material for the town. By 1561 it had been abandoned and left to fall into ruin.  wikipedia   After that nothing was done to preserve the site until 1826.

According to those that have studied the ruins, the building was 391 ft/119m long, 168ft/51m wide and 100ft/30m tall.  Standing there being dwarfed by the enormity of these ancient structures one can only imagine what it was like in it’s prime.  Situated towards the end of the town of St. Andrews, you can see it towering above everything else. 

The cathedral was eventually consecrated in 1318 after the west end had to be rebuilt when it was blown down in 1270. Since then the building was dogged by bad luck. The English stripped the lead from it during the Wars of Independence, then it had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1378. In 1409 the south transept collapsed during a winter storm, but it was after the reformation in 1559 that the building was ransacked and fell into disrepair.

During the late 1600s it was primarily used for quarrying and the grounds were turned into a graveyard.

Some people don’t enjoy wandering the grounds of a cemetery (Billy did not) but there are those like me that find them a combination of tranquility and history. It was interesting to me to see the plots that held generations of families and how young many of them were when they went to join their ancestors. There are 534 graves here. I tried to find the oldest grave but all I came upon (that I could read, many have had their words worn away by time and weather) were those from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Some of the interesting graves.

I coaxed Billy out for his one and only shot there (other than a family selfie we took that we sent back home) and he quickly ran back to his backpack. Can you find him?

It was time to head back to our car and get us to our final stop which was the car rental company to return our car – didn’t want any extra charges. And then spend our last two days in Scotland in Edinburgh.

A street in the town of St. Andrews. I believe the red car towards the end of the row of cars was ours.

Next – Billy explores the big city

Teri and Billy

About imagesbytdashfield

Fine art photographer who loves to see and capture the amazing things in this world. Owner of Images by TDashfield photography.
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7 Responses to Billy Visits Scotland – St. Andrews Cathedral

  1. Garfield Hug says:

    Thanks for the history! Pity Billy scurried back into your back pack. Miss seeing him🤭

  2. Pit says:

    Thanks for taking me there. St. Andrews is a place we only drove through years ago,

  3. Lavinia Ross says:

    I enjoyed this walk through history, Teri. Yes, many were young when they joined their ancestors. The days before antibiotics and modern medical care.

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