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Built in 1158, The Cathedral of St Andrew was the largest and most remarkable church in Scotland

Marija Georgievska

The Cathedral of St Andrew also known as St Andrews Cathedral is a ruined Roman Catholic cathedral in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland.

Built in 1158, it was the largest cathedral and most magnificent church in Scotland. The cathedral became the center of the Medieval Catholic Church in Scotland as the seat of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and the Bishop and Archbishops of St Andrews.

The Cathedral of St Andrews east tower. Photo Credit

The Cathedral of St Andrews east tower. Photo Credit

 

It is currently a monument in the custody of Historic Scotland. Photo Credit

It is currently a monument in the custody of Historic Scotland. Photo Credit

The Cathedral was built on the grounds of an older church called St. Regulus or St. Rule which had been built in the Romanesque style. To the east of the site, there is an even older religious site, the Church of St Mary on the Rock, the Culdee house that became a Collegiate Church.

The work on the new cathedral started in 1158 and continued for over a century. The west end was blown down in a storm and rebuilt between 1272 and 1279. On 5 July 1318, the cathedral was dedicated in a ceremony before King Robert I.

A fire partly destroyed the building in 1378. Photo Credit

A fire partly destroyed the building in 1378. Photo Credit

 

It was built in 1158 and became the centre of the Medieval Catholic Church in Scotland. Photo Credit

It was built in 1158 and became the center of the Medieval Catholic Church in Scotland. Photo Credit

In 1559, during the Scottish reformation, the people of St Andrews attacked the cathedral and stripped it of its altars and images. Abandoned in 1561 in favor of the city’s parish church, the cathedral gradually fell into ruin. Afterward, large portions of the ruins were taken away for building purposes, and nothing was done to preserve them until 1826.

Some of the priory buildings remained intact at the end of the seventeenth century and considerable remains of others existed, but nearly all traces have now disappeared, except portions of the priory wall and the archways, known as The Pends. There is a visitor center in the cathedral that includes a large collection of carved Pictish stones and also the St Andrews sarcophagus, which is known as one of the best sculptures that had survived from the Picts.

It is the largest church to have been built in Scotland. Photo Credit

It is the largest church to have been built in Scotland. Photo Credit

 

The Whyte-Melville memorial, St Andrews. Photo Credit

The Whyte-Melville memorial, St Andrews. Photo Credit

Today the tower commands an admirable view of the town, harbor, sea, and surrounding countryside. In the Middle Ages, a spire atop the tower made it even more prominent.

Read another story from us: Nidaros Cathedral is the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world and the most important church in Norway

The tower was originally ascended using ladders between wooden floors, but a stone spiral staircase was inserted in the 18th century. Built in gray sandstone ashlar, the cathedral is a land and sea-mark seen from many miles away.