Places to Visit
- St Andrews Cathedral, Fife
As befitted the headquarters of the Christian church in Scotland, its cathedral became the longest and greatest in Scotland. Even in its present ruined state, the scale is impressive - at 355 feet long, it was at one time the second largest church in Britain. The effect on simple pilgrims who visited the cathedral 600 years ago must have been staggering.
There was a monastic community in St Andrews in the 8th century. Due to pressure on Iona from the Vikings, the centre of the church in Scotland moved east, first to Dunkeld and then to Kilrimont (the Celtic name by which St Andrews was known in those days). A church, dedicated to St Rule was built there early in the 12th century. The original, tall (108 feet high) tower of that church still survives (and gives great views over the town). Legend has it that St Rule (or St Regulus) was the original guardian of the relics of St Andrew.
As the community grew, St Rule's became too small and work on a grander cathedral was started in 1160 but it was not until the 13th century that the building was ready for use. And the Wars of Independence meant that it was not consecrated until 1318 (in the presence of King Robert the Bruce>). The illustration here is of the East Gable from the West Door and gives an impression of the length of the building (as does the picture at the top of this page).
The Reformation of the church, led by John Knox> had a devastating effect on the cathedral and the resident community of monks. The roof was stripped and the stones from the cathedral used as a quarry for many years.
The Gothic eastern gable of the cathedral, originally with three tiers of windows, still survives as does the west doorway, above which soars the remaining tower which adjoins a long stretch of the west wall. The cathedral visitor centre has a large collection of carved Pictish stones, including the St Andrews sarcophagus, which is regarded as one of the best sculptures which has survived from the Picts.
A much more recent addition in the adjoining graveyard is a monument to Tommy Morris, one of the early golfers from St Andrews from the 19th century who won the Open Championship at the age of 17.
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