St Andrews Cathedral


Site Name St Andrews Cathedral

Classification Cathedral

Alternative Name(s) St Andrews Priory

Canmore ID 34299

Site Number NO51NW 2

NGR NO 51415 16687

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2015
View on large map

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish St Andrews And St Leonards
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NO51NW 2 51415 16687

NO51NW 2.01 51347 16579 Guest Hall

NO51NW 2.02 5147 1656 Granary

NO51NW 2.03 5148 1650 Abbey Mill

NO51NW 2.04 5149 1656 Well: Holy

NO51NW 2.05 51475 16648 St Rule's Church and St Rule's Tower (St Regulus Church)

NO51NW 2.06 51369 16631 Priory House House

NO51NW 2.07 5142 1662 Museum

NO51NW 2.08 51459 16661 Burial Ground

NO51NW 2.09 5138 1662 Refectory; watching brief

NO51NW 2.10 51437 16581 Abbey Walls

NO51NW 2.11 51491 16571 Well House

NO51NW 2.12 51413 16619 Priory

(Centred NO 5139 1667) Cathedral (NR) (Ruins of (NAT)

OS 6" map (1912/38)

For description and history, see MoW Official Guide.

S Cruden 1950

The problem of stagnant water in the cellar of the monastic S range prompted the examination of drainage in the adjacent cloister alley. Within the excavated areas no evidence of medieval occupation had survived the attentions of previous, similarly intentioned investigators.

J H Lewis 1987

NO 5145 1659 Minor archaeological excavations were undertaken in July 2004 comprising four trial trenches across the line of an intended trench for a waste water pipe. The archaeological potential of this area of the monument is affected by the extensive clearance and landscaping of the cathedral and graveyards from the Victorian period onwards.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: HS.

D Stewart 2004

NS 5138 1663 A watching brief was undertaken in May 2005 during the excavation of a cable trench along the W and S walks of St Andrews Cathedral cloister, with 42m of trench in the S walk and 15m in the W walk, and a maximum depth of 0.5m.

This area has been subjected to improvements during the 18th and 19th centuries resulting in new surface levels. The old paved surfaces of the walkways had long been removed, with later 18th century levelling material added. Works in the 19th century to the S undercroft had greatly disturbed the walkway bottoming deposits and 18th-century levelling, with 20th-century conduit work disturbing both 18th- and 19th-century works. These excavations were not deep enough to penetrate late disturbances.

Archive to be deposited in NMRS.

Sponsor: HS.

D Stewart 2005

NO 5141 1668 A watching brief was undertaken in August 2006 during the removal of four stone bollards and excavation of foundations for six new cast iron bollards. The removal of the stone bollards partially revealed possible flagged surfaces and the footings of the stone columns of the West Precinct wall. The works caused no disturbance to these features. There were no other features of archaeological significance and no finds were retained.

Archive to be deposited in NMRS.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland.

Angus Mackintosh, 2006.

Architecture Notes

NO51NW 2.00 51415 16687



1805, Jan 23

St Andrews Cathedral. Order of barons of exchequer authorising repairs to'steeple' to be carried out under direction of Principal Hill.



St Andrews Cathedral and Castle. Letters and papers relating to conservation of ruins (11 items), including:

1. Letter from Robert Reid reporting on inspection of cathedral and castle and repairs needed at cathedral, 2 July 1825.

5. Letter from Reid on work at cathedral and additional work needed at castle; with report thereon, 19-23 Sept. 1823.

8. Account of John Kennedy, mason, for work at cathedral and castle, June 1826 - april [1827].

9. Letter from Professor Robert Haldane, St Andrews, on damage to sea wall at 'Dennis Wharf', 22 Nov. 1827.

10. Letter from Reid concerning sea wall and Kennedy's account, 15 Dec. 1827.



Fabric Recording (June 2008)

NO 51415 16687 This is a substantial collection of carved stone, and most of the examples are of a very high quality. It includes large numbers of column capitals dating from the 12th to 16th century, as well as numerous tomb slabs, voussoirs, vault ribs and sculptural pieces. One of the most interesting finds in this collection is an early 13th-century column base. It is possible that this stone was never used, since its moulded edge has an unfinished appearance, and some areas on the upper face are rather roughly finished. In addition, three sub-bases on the upper surface are irregular in appearance, with a notable asymmetry. The underside of the base shows intriguing evidence of design processes in the early 13th century. There are several drawn and scribed lines, showing the design of the sub-bases on the upper surface, as well as plans of walls with attached columns. Compasses have been used to form the column design, which was initially drawn, then scribed for use as a template. Measuring both the scribed/drawn template and the quatrefoiled bases on the upper surface shows that they are almost exactly the same size, providing a very rare example of both a planned and executed design. An assessment of the collection began in June 2008 and is ongoing.

This and other inventories of carved stones at Historic Scotland’s properties in care are held by Historic Scotland’s Collections Unit. A publication with a full discussion of this stone is currently in preparation. For further information please contact

Funder: Historic Scotland

Mary Márkus – Archetype

Fabric Recording (June 2008 - March 2010)

NO 51415 16687 This collection of a large number of post-reformation tomb slabs and a group of architectural fragments was catalogued June 2008–March 2010 and is now on display in the cathedral museum. Among the architectural fragments are two very well preserved pieces of cornice. One of these shows a series of grotesque heads connected by a stem of vegetation. The stem is portrayed descending through the top of each head and re-appearing through the mouth to descend to the head below. The cornice is worked in very fine-grained sandstone, which has allowed the detail to be carved with a great degree of freedom and delicacy. The other cornice is more stylised in form, with a row of rectangular foliage and berry forms, again connected by a stem of vegetation. The coarser grade of this sandstone has clearly affected the manner of the carving, with a stronger sense of regularised pattern-making compensating for the relative simplicity of the carved detail. Among the tomb slabs, there are many fine examples of symbols of mortality, trades, heraldry and inscriptions, such as the tomb of Christian Wood (d 1636), which includes a skeleton with ‘memento mori’ on a scroll above its head.

This and other inventories of carved stones at Historic Scotland’s properties in care are held by Historic Scotland’s Collections Unit. For further information please contact

Funder: Historic Scotland

Mary Márkus – Archetype


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions