For over 500 years until the Reformation pilgrims arrived to worship at the shrine of St Andrews in the great cathedral consecrated in 1318 by King Robert the Bruce. Many of these pilgrims arrived at the West Port, the start of this 6km circuit of a historical journey through St Andrews. from the Blue Stone of Pictish days with its magical properties to the beaches famous for the filming of Chariots of Fire.
The Westport, one of three surviving of the original eight gates to the town. This gate was reconstructed in 1589 and also in 1843, when side-arches were removed. OUTER FACE . Sculpture shows David 1 (St David) and inscription reads DAVIDUS DEO RECTORE REX SCOTDRUM. INNER FACE. Sculpture shows St Andrew on his cross, the pagan symbol of the oak tree, and the boar (after the original name of St Andrews, Muckross or the Promontory of the Boar). James VI was welcomed here in 1617 and Charles II was given keys in 1650.
Blackfriars Chapel, 16th century chapel of the Dominicans and destroyed during the reformation. Cardinal Beaton secretly buried here. Here also there is a pillar to Charles Lapworth (1842 to 1920) one of the great geologists of his era. A notable contribution was his study of graptolites, tiny creatures which first appeared about 490 million years ago and finally died out about 320 million years ago. During that period they evolved and their distinctive shapes help us date the rocks in which their fossils are found.
Town Hall and traditional Provost’s lamp-posts outside with crest of St Andrew above door. On the clock tower, the lower sculpture shows St Andrew on cross and the upper sculpture shows the arms of Madras College which was founded in 1834. On the wall is a memorial plaque, by Tom Hull, to Polish soldiers stationed in St Andrews during World War II. The soldiers were put to work as part of the coastal defence garrison. They were renowned for their singing as they marched to mass.
Holy Trinity Church with tower. Started as part of the cathedral complex in 1144 but moved in 1412. John Knox preached here and encouraged the mob to destroy the cathedral. Inside there is a monument commemorating the murder of Archbishop Sharp in 1661.
St Mary's College, South Street. Founded by Cardinal Beaton in 1537. Above entrance is a stone carving of Scottish royal standard. Inside the quadrangle is a thorn tree planted over 450 years ago by Mary, Queen of Scots in 1561, and now in need of some support. Also a Mediterranean oak, Quercus Ilex, thriving in the temperate climate of St Andrews.
St John’s Garden is located between a number of listed buildings on South Street and its access point is in Market Street. Now owned by the university it formerly belonged to the Order of St John, Knight Hospitallers. Used as a garden as early as 1580.
Stone recording a marriage in 1642, set on the wall in the close leading to Byre Theatre, so called because the original theatre was started in a former “byre” or cow shed belonging to the abbey, where audiences sat on cushions on the floor for performances. This new building was opened in 1970. Also within the precincts a stone praying figure and walls containing curved stone pillaged from the ancient cathedral. Keep an eye out for other marriage stones as you wander through the town.
12th Century St Leonard’s Chapel now in the grounds of St Leonard’s School. At the southern end there is a stone-bench beside a narrow slit which opens into the chapel. It has been suggested that this served as a confessional; an alternative explanation is that the bench was used by the lepers from the house nearby to attend mass. Every Thursday in term time, there is a 25 minute candlelit service at 10pm when the choir sing the ancient Office of Compline. Students and visitors welcome.
Queen Mary's house. Mary, Queen of Scots, was frequent visitor to St Andrews and enjoyed golf. She is reputed to have played a round the day after her husband, the Earl of Darnley, had been murdered. Her bedroom room was in the corner tower on the top right with the long window.
This lane is known as the Nun's Walk, a famous ghost story of St Andrews, about a girl who broke off her engagement to go into a convent. Then, in order to put off her suitor, she cut off her eyelids and lips, slit her nostrils, and branded both cheeks with a red-hot poker. Encountering the Veiled Nun of St Leonard’s is still regarded as a sign of ill-omen, and if she draws aside her heavy veil and shows her mutilated face the unfortunate spectator is doomed to die within the year.
The Eye of the Needle, the narrow archway entrance to the two walls forming the Pends. These walls date from 1350 but the central archways, the “pendentes”, from the Latin verb “pendo “, I hang or suspend, were removed in 1837
The Sea Yett (Gate), originally with flanking towers for pouring pitch down onto enemies.
St Rule’s Tower named after the monk, also called St Regulus, who first brought relics of St Andrew to Scotland in the 7th century. The tower dates from the early 12th century.
The remains of the great cathedral complex, dedicated to St Andrew, consecrated in the presence of King Robert the Bruce in 1318 and a major place of pilgrimage. When first built the cathedral, dominated by the tower to St Rule, was one of the largest buildings in Europe with an internal length of 108 metres, 12 metres longer than the cathedral of the city, and pilgrimage rival, of Santiago de Compostela. It remained the largest building ever constructed in Scotland until the arrival of rail and the building of Waverley Station in Edinburgh in the late 19th century. The cathedral was destroyed during the Reformation and, until recent times, stone was pillaged from the site for local buildings, including the harbour of St Andrews. You can often see carved stone set in the town walls, proof of its cathedral origins.
Nearby is a hole in the wall famed as a university joke. The new student is invited to extend his hand to shake hands with St Andrew. Another student is lying in wait on the other side to provide a handshake - and a nasty fright.
St Andrews Preservation Trust Museum, 12 North Street. Open 2-5 or by appointment with curator. Over 10,000 objects and photos showing the history of St Andrews, with knowledgeable local volunteers present.
St Andrews Castle. Fortress, prison and episcopal palace started around 1200 ad. The great hall fell into the sea in 1801. Contains a “bottle dungeon”. See also entrance to the counter mine. This goes under the road and dates from the siege of the castle in 1546.
Saint Salvator's is the oldest of the University's colleges and was founded in 1450 by Bishop James Kennedy. Several of the original medieval buildings survive, including the college chapel and tower. Outside the main gate are the initials PH arranged in cobblestones commemorating the martyrdom of Patrick Hamilton in 1528. Any student stepping on the "PH" will, by popular tradition, become accursed and fail to gain a degree. The annual Kate Kennedy Procession, whereby a beautiful student leads a procession through the town, arises from the story of Kate, the beautiful niece of Bishop Kennedy, visiting her uncle and arriving to the sound of bells and is a celebration of youth and beauty.
Roman Catholic church with scallop shell on the wall dedicated to St James the Great, patron saint of Spain, and built by the Marquess of Bute in the 19th century. Stained glass windows showing Saints Andrew, Margaret, Magnus, and James.
Martyrs’ Monument and Witch Lake. The Martyrs Monument commemorates the Protestant figures who were martyred in St Andrews between 1520 and 1560 during the Counter Reformation. Nearby is a tidal pool called Witch Lake, a reminder of the many unfortunate women accused of witchcraft and executed after the Reformation.
Bow Butts Bandstand The practice area where all citizens were encouraged to improve their archery. In 1592 one master of theology at the university was practicing in his garden and misfired, putting an arrow into the neck of a nearby man. A competition, called the Silver Arrow was introduced in 1618 to raise standards and continued to 1754. The competition was opened with a parade of archers led by pipes and drums. Just across stands the “Home of Golf”, the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse built in 1853 for the Society of St Andrews Golfers, founded over a hundred years before in 1754
West Sands. Where early pilgrims will have washed on completion of their long journey, and more recently made famous for the opening scenes of Chariots of Fire, West Sands extends for almost two miles of sand and dunes beside the most famous golf course in the world.
The Blue Stane (or Stone) has been revered since Pictish times when it may have been used as an altar for pagan rites. It has long been a meeting, or trysting place, and regarded with superstitious awe. Knights swore faith there and wayfarers patted the stone for good luck. It is said that the pikemen of St. Andrews touched it for assurance before departing in 1314 for victory in the Battle of Bannockburn. Even today, it is customary for passers-by to give the stone a placatory nod or curtsey. Legend has it that the stone was thrown by an angry giant from Blebo Craigs, some 5 miles away, at St Rule, the newly arrived missionary and founder of St Andrews. The more scientific explanation is that the stone is an erratic, a lump of stone carried down in a glacier during the Ice Age and left behind when the glacier melted.
The Wee House. Now an up market holiday home but formerly a public lavatory and known locally as The Wee Wee House
The Whey Pat Inn. Early pilgrims were served gruel, a soup of oatmeal, from a large pot, or “pat”, as they entered by the West Port at the end of their long pilgrimage. The Whey Pat Inn continues in that tradition by providing food and drink, not gruel, to locals, students and pilgrims alike. So where better to start or end your circuit of St Andrews?
Comments welcome through CONTACT ME on the website , The Way of St Andrews. http://www.thewayofstandrews.com
(cloned from route 2342075)