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St Andrews, Scotland: Golf and More


This is the second supplementary feature on last year’s road trip around Scotland.

St Andrews is well known as the home of golf, but it is a charming town in its own right. Located on the east coast of Scotland in the historic county of Fife, St Andrews has much to offer anyone with an interest in medieval architecture.


The ruins of the cathedral and castle are the two main attractions apart from golf, but access to both is often restricted these days owing to crumbling masonry. They are still worth viewing from the outside, as part of an easy walk around the town. We gave them our best shot and got a few decent pictures.


We stayed at the charming Albany Hotel, right on the centrally located North Street and within walking distance of just about everything except the golf courses.


The rooms here were delightful with well-preserved period furniture. The staff were exceptional and nothing was too much trouble.


The town centre is most attractive and full of character. Parking spaces, however, are at a premium and the golden rule is if you find one, keep it and walk everywhere else you want to go.


According to the website, the land around the Eden Estuary, which flows into St Andrews Bay to the north-east of the present town, has been inhabited since at least the middle Stone Age. However, St Andrews as we know it today has its origins in the 8th century, when Pictish King Oengus I established a monastery there in honour of the patron saint of the Picts, and later of Scotland. The monastery was said to house the sacred relics of St Andrew, and in time the settlement that grew up around it came to be known by the same name.

In 906, the Bishop of Alba transferred his seat from Dunkeld to St. Andrews and in 1158, work began on St Andrews Cathedral. As the largest church in Scotland, the cathedral made the town the most important place of pilgrimage in the entire country and one of the most significant in Europe.

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St Andrews Cathedral was completed in 1160 and became the centre of the medieval Catholic Church in Scotland. It fell into disuse and ruin after Catholic mass was outlawed during the 16th-century Scottish Reformation, when the country separated from the Catholic Church.


St Andrews Castle sits on a rocky promontory overlooking the North Sea. There has been a castle standing at the site since the 12th century. It housed the burgh’s wealthy and powerful bishops while St Andrews served as the ecclesiastical centre of Scotland during the years before the Protestant Reformation. Both the cathedral and the castle are now classified as ruins and are maintained by Historic Environment Scotland as ‘scheduled monuments’.

After the reformation St Andrews fell into a decline that lasted well into the 18th century. However, at this time, the town began to be recognised as a haven for golfers and in 1754 the Royal and Ancient Golf Club was founded, making St Andrews home to the world’s most influential golfing authority.


The picturesque coastal town is now also well known in academic circles for the University of St Andrews, the third-oldest university in Britain and famously the place where Prince William met Kate Middleton. The terraced house in Hope Street where the couple lived with other students has become a tourist attraction in its own right.

The University of St Andrews has for several years been ranked one of the best universities in the UK and the best in Scotland. However, for the past two years it has been voted the top university in the UK, moving ahead of Oxford and Cambridge. In 2021 St Andrews was ranked number one in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, the first time in the 30-year history of league tables that any university other than the Oxbridge duo has come first.

And in the Guardian University Guide 2023 published last September, St Andrews was placed top in its ranking of the UK’s 130 universities for the first time. The Guardian has now coined the term ‘Stoxbridge’ to describe what it says may be the new world order in UK university rankings.


Today, the game of golf continues to be one of the main attractions for visitors, with seven championship golf courses to choose from. The University of St Andrews’ status now as the top university in the UK has cemented the city’s reputation as a centre for higher learning as well.

Historical information source: Tripsavvy


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