St Andrew's Castle

Location:  Scotland

The following information was  researched  by our volunteer team member
Carolyn D. Ahrns from Las Vegas, NV. Thank you very much!



"According to legend, an angel appeared to a monk named St. Rule and warned him to remove the bones of St. Andrew to 'the ends of the earthí for safe keeping." St. Rule followed the angels orders and left Constantinople with the relics. "Shipwrecked, he came ashore on the east coast of Fife, and built a chapel there to house the relics. Thus was born St. Andrews".


Founded in 1160, St. Andrews Cathedral was built over an earlier church. The tower of that church, St. Ruleís Tower, still stands today. St. Andrews was consecrated on July 5, 1318 by Bishop Wardlaw in the presence of King Robert the Bruce and it was recognized by a Papal Bull of Benedict XIII in 1413. St. Andrews was established as an Augustinian foundation and was used for over three hundred years, until it was destroyed during the Reformation. "In its day it was one of the most celebrated cathedrals in Europe and the largest building in Scotland until modern times."


A spirit called the White Lady has been seen walking along the edge of the castle and the surrounding shoreline. Most of her sightings have been during the evening hours in October and November.

The tormented soul of Patrick Hamilton still remains after suffering an agonizing six hours before finally dying while being burned at the stake. "Don't forget to look up at his ghostly image on the tower!"

The Ghost of Cardinal Beaton who was murdered in his sleep and hung naked from the battlements of the tower house, for burning a Protestant preacher alive in front of the castle walls, haunts St. Andrews Castle.

The figure of a woman has been seen near the tower carrying a prayer book. She is dressed in light grey and wears a veil, she vanishes as quickly as she appears.



There has been a fortification of some sort on this site since the 12th century. The castle was built as a defensive residence by Bishop Rodger. It has 400 hundred years of violent history and was destroyed and rebuilt many times. Incorporated into the Fore Tower are the remains of the Gate Tower built in 1200. It fell to the English in 1296, during which improvements were made in preparation to receive Englandís King Edward. The Scots retook the castle in 1314 and dismantled it as part of Robert the Bruceís policy of slighting castles.

Bishop William Lamberton made repairs to the castle from 1315 to 1320. In 1330 the castle again fell to the English. In 1337 the castle was recaptured by Sir Andrew Moray, Regent of Scotland, in a siege that lasted three weeks. The Scots destroyed the the castle so that it would be unusable therefore preventing it from falling into English hands.

It lay in ruins until the end of the 14th century when Bishop Walter Trail ordered the castle to be rebuilt. He died here in 1401. It became the residence of the most powerful church leaders in Scotland. James I received his education from Bishop Henry Wardlaw here. Bishop Wardlaw was the founder of Scotlandís first University in 1410.

"The growing popularity of the game of golf in St. Andrews in the 15th century is confirmed by an Act passed by the Scottish Parliament by order of King James II in 1457. Perturbed that the young men of the town were being distracted from their archery practice, King James outlawed the game, decreeing that 'the golf be utterly cried down and not usedí. The Act further decreed that bow marks and a pair of butts (targets) should be set up at every parish church. On Sundays, every man between the age of twelve and fifty was ordered to shoot at least six arrows. Defaulters were fined 2 pence, and all fines were to be used to buy drink for the archers attending the bow marks. The ban remained in forced until repealed by King James IV - an ardent golfer himself."

During the 1400s the Sea Tower was used as a state prison; some of itís prisoners were, David Duke of Rothesay, Duke Mrudoch and St Andrewsí first Archbishop, Patrick Graham. In 1513, the front wall was strengthened by adding two round towers. In 1521 Archbishop James Beaton began refortification of St. Andrews to withstand artillery fire. In 1537, he named his nephew, David, his appointed successor. In 1538, David became Archbishop of St. Andrews and a Cardinal of the Church.

Patrick Hamilton learned the teachings of Martin Luther and studied in Paris before he returned to the University at St. Andrews to teach. A supporter of the new reformation views, the Archbishop of St. Andrews had him arrested for heresy. Found guilty he was asked to recant, refusing to do so he was sentenced to death. "On a cold, wintry day in February 1528, Patrick was burned at the stake outside St. Salvatorís Church. The difficulty of lighting the fire and the need to relight it several times prolonged the agony of his death for over six hours. It is said that the reek of Patrick Hamilton infected all on whom it blew, and, also, that an image of his face appeared miraculously on one of the stones on the clock tower as he died."

"Thus, Patrick Hamilton, aged just 24 years, became the first Protestant Martyr. Look for his initials in the cobbles at the site of his burning in North Street, and donít forget to look up at his ghostly image on the tower!"

The Archbishop of St Andrews, Cardinal David Beaton (1494-1546), had the Protestant Preacher, George Wishart, taken to North Street in March 1546, where he was tied to a stake and burned alive. It is said Beaton watched this gruesome event from the comfort of the Bishopís Castle. This made him many enemies.

It was not long after Preacher Wishartís execution a group of Fife Lairds, who were Protestants, entered the castle dressed as workmen and found Beaton asleep in his bed (May 1546). His slain body was hung, naked, from the battlements of castleís Tower House. "And so like a butcher he lived, and like a butcher he died, and lay seven months and more unburied, and at last like a carrion was buried in a dunghill." The rebels held the castle for about a year, during which time the Earl of Arran held siege on the castle inflicting extensive damage. The castle was bombarded by cannon fire. He had guns mounted on the towers of St. Andrews Cathedral and St. Salvatorís Church. He finally defeated the rebels, one of whom was John Knox, with the arrival of the French fleet adding more cannons to the artilleryís fire power.

Archbishop John Hamilton succeeded Cardinal Beaton. Again the task of rebuilding the castle had begun. Upon his release, Knox returned to Scotland more dedicated than ever to the Protestant cause. In 1559, his preaching during the Reformation roused the fanatics in the mob to the point where they ransacked both the castle and Cathedral, eventually destroying them both. The Act of Annexation turned the castle and itís land over to the Crown in1587. It then fell to ruin and in 1654 it was dismantled supplying building material for the harbor walls.

Two vaulted cellars are all that remain of the castleís kitchen. The Sea Tower contains two cellars and the pit prison. Most of the outer part of the blockhouse to the west is destroyed, and almost all of the seaward structures have crumbled into the water.

A mine and countermine had been dug from inside the castles grounds. Rediscovered in the 1900ís during local construction, was a large chamber where a underground battle had taken place. Further excavation uncovered a countermine with several false starts, making these siege works the finest of its kind in Europe.


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