St Andrews Cathedral | Attraction Guides | History Hit

St Andrews Cathedral

St Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom

Luke Tomes

18 Feb 2021

About St Andrews Cathedral

Overlooking the North Sea and the medieval seaside town, St Andrews Cathedral is a ruined chancel dating back to the mid-12th century.

It remains Scotland’s largest built cathedral to this date, with the ruins indicating that the building was approximately 119 m (390 ft) long.

St Andrews Cathedral history

Built in 1158 by Bishop Arnold, the Cathedral became the centre of the Medieval Catholic Church in Scotland as the seat of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and the Bishops and Archbishops of St Andrews.

Work continued over the next 150 years, but was stalled by a storm in 1272, which blew down the west front, and by the first War of Independence against England. It fell into disuse and ruin after Catholic mass was outlawed during the 16th century Scottish Reformation.

The Cathedral today

The cathedral church is now ruined, but large areas survive. Its superb remains include the east gable of the presbytery, which housed the relics of St Andrew, the south wall of the nave and the majestic west front.

The cloister retains its ruined chapter house and the restored stone-vaulted undercrofts that now house the cathedral museum. On display are fascinating artefacts from the early medieval era to post-Reformation times.

Getting to St Andrews Cathedral

The Cathedral is located on the eastern coast of the sea town. It is located directly inbetween St Andrews Castle and the East Coast Harbour, all of which can be located by driving through “The Pends”, a pair of fourteenth-century arches at the east end of South Street. Follow the road, under the arches with the medieval walls on either side until you reach the Cathedral.

It is possible to park along The Pends. Bare in mind that this road leading toward the Cathedral is extremely narrow and so one must be aware of oncoming traffic. If you cannot find anywhere to park along the road, you can find allocated parking places by Old Admiralty House on the coast next to St Andrews Castle – perhaps a 2 minute walk away from the Cathedral.

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