Entry to the cathedral grounds is free,
though access to the visitors' museum and St. Rule's Tower requires
a fee or membership in Historic Scotland. The visitors' centre houses the
famous St. Andrews Sarcophagus,
perhaps the finest example of Pictish carving in existence.
Christian worship at this spot began perhaps
around 800 AD when the Celtic "Culdees" (Companions
of God) established a makeshift church at the harbour entrance.
This was shortly thereafter replaced with the church of St. Mary-on-the-Crag
whose outline, outside the cathedral walls is still evident. It
is probable that the relics of St. Andrew were kept at that site.
The cruciform foundation of St. Mary on the Crag
church is visible in the foreground
After roughly three centuries the Roman
form of worship supplanted the Celtic. The original Holy Trinity
"town" church was built on the site of the later cathedral.
The existing Holy Trinity Church in South
Street being a much later construction.
The Construction of the cathedral began
in 1159, but it wasn't until 1318 that the cathedral was consecrated
in the presence of King Robert the Bruce. It is even alleged that
he rode his horse up the aisle.
The relics of St. Andrew have disappeared.
There are two theories of what may have happened to them ... One
is that the Culdees, not wanting to have the relics become part
of the Roman church, removed them to their monastry of St. Serf
on Loch Leven. The other theory is that they were discarded by
the iconoclasts of the Reformation.
The reformers of the 16th century have most
certainly been wrongly accused of the destruction of the cathedral.
It is very likely that they did indeed tear down statuary and
other religious icons, but the cathedral was ruined more by poor
design which was unable to withstand the harsh North Sea winds.
The gable of the South Transept was blown down by a fierce storm
in 1409. An earlier fire in 1378 meant that building on the cathedral
had to be almost completely restarted. Ultimately cathedral stone
was used as a source of stone for local buildings.
Today the cathedral grounds are an interesting
and peaceful environment in which to contemplate the events of
the last millenium. Grave stones of many prominent local people,
statesmen, clerics and golfers are to be found there. There is
also a haunted tower in which it is alleged the "White Lady
of St. Andrews" was buried.