Martyrs’ Monument | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Martyrs’ Monument

St Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom

Luke Tomes

18 Feb 2021

About Martyrs’ Monument

Built to commemorate four men who were executed in St Andrews during the 16th Century Scottish Reformation, Martyrs’ Monument has become one of the town’s most intriguing and iconic historic landmarks.

Martyrs’ Monument history

Having been home to Scotland’s largest Cathedral throughout the Middle Ages, St Andrews inevitably became one of the epicentres of persecution and religious violence during the Scottish Reformation.

In the mid-16th century, ideas of Renaissance humanism, critical of aspects of the established Catholic Church, began to reach Scotland, particularly through contacts between Scottish and continental scholars.

The work of the Lutheran Scot Patrick Hamilton was especially influential in promoting Protestantism as a reaction to the misgivings and abuses of the Catholic Church. It would land him in serious trouble.

Patrick Hamilton was one of the first critics of the Catholic Church in Scotland to be tried and burnt at the stake, in 1528, for promoting the doctrines of Martin Luther. Others who followed in his footsteps are commemorated by this monument.

Henry Forest was executed in 1533 for owning a copy of the New Testament in English. George Wishart was burnt at the stake for defying the Catholic Church and Walter Myln followed in 1558, having advocated married clergy.

The Monument today

The monument still stands tall and, as a beacon of religious freedom and tremendous courage, is a frequently visited landmark in Scotland.

Along with St Salvators Chapel, which is said to have the face of Hamilton burnt into its walls, Martyrs’ Monument brings alive the rich history of St Andrews and its key involvement in the Scottish Reformation.

Getting to Martyrs’ Monument

Martyrs’ Monument in St Andrews, Scotland, enjoys a high-profile location adjacent to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, overlooking the world-famous Old Course and the spectacular West Sands.

The landmark will be immediately visible when walking or driving along the Scores toward the Hamilton Grand and the Clubhouse.

There is parking along the road, however, if you wish to stroll to the site as so many do, Martyrs’ Monument is only a 5-minute walk from the centre of town, West Sands Beach and St Andrews Castle.

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