Add items of interest to your free trip planner and map - print off or send to a friend
St Andrews Cathedral started life in the middle of the 12th century occupying the site of earlier Christian worship, which had been in use since the 8th century AD. It was at this time that the relics of St Andrew, Scotland's patron saint, were brought to Scotland by St Rule (or Saint Regulus) from Greece..
St Andrews Cathedral was the dominant force in the history of the medieval church in Scotland from the time of its construction until the Protestant Reformation in 1560. It is Scotland's largest (some 350 feet (100+ m) in length), and most magnificent medieval church, the cathedral being the seat of Scotland's leading bishops and, from 1472 archbishops, until its disuse after the Reformation.
Work began on the new cathedral in 1158 and continued for over a century. The west end was blown down during a storm and rebuilt between 1272 and 1279. It was dedicated on 5 July 1318 in a ceremony before King Robert I . When intact it had, besides a central tower, six turrets; of these two at the east and one of the two at the western extremity (rising to a height of 30 metres (100 feet)) remain. St Andrews Cathedral is encircled by the most complete and imposing monastic enclosure walls in Scotland, which are well worth walking round during your visit.
A fire partly destroyed the building in 1378, and the restoration and further embellishments were completed in 1440.
In 1559, John Knox preached a fiery sermon in St Andrews parish church, and the cathedral was 'cleansed' stripping it of all its altars and images.
By 1561 St Andrews Cathedral was abandoned and replaced by the parish church as the chief place of worship. Thereafter the former headquarters of the Scottish Church was left to fall into ruin.
In the 1590s St Andrews Cathedral's central tower collapsed, carrying with it the north wall, from this time the stones and rubble were taken away for other building purposes. It remained a ruin until 1826 when preservation work was started.
St Andrews Cathedral is in the custody of Historic Scotland.