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Publication Account

Date 1981

Event ID 1017987

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


The castle (the Bishop's Palace of St. Andrews) is not known to have existed until 1200 (Cant, 1971 2). Its ruins stand west of the cathedral and harbour, on a headland overlooking the low-water haven known as Hind Lake. The site is protected by the sea on the east and north, while elsewhere it has been isolated from attack by the creation of a large ditch, in some places cut into the rock. The majority of the standing remains date from the sixteenth century but overlie and incorporate remains of older structures {RCAM, 1933, 250).

In 1336 the castle was rebuilt by the English, having been seriously damaged during the Wars of Independence. However, it appears that in the following year the Regent Moray caused widespread destruction to the structure which was not rebuilt until the episcopacy of Bishop Traill {1385-1401). The next important phase of building work did not occur until the first half of the sixteenth century when the Fore Tower (dating from the 1336 reconstruction) was blocked up and a new entrance introduced midway along the south-west curtain wall. A massive circular blockhouse rose at the south-western corner of the castle. Cardinal Beaton was engaged on building works at the time of his assassination. The bombardment by French troops in May 1547 caused widespread damage, and succeeded in knocking down the newly-erected south-west blockhouse. Although Beaton's successor carried out repairs on the structure, he made no effort to reclaim the blockhouse. One of the more interesting survivals from this period is the series of mines and counter-mines executed during the siege of 1546-7 (RCAM, 1933, 252-3).

After the Reformation, the Archbishops of St. Andrews chose to live in the Novum Hospitium of the Priory. The castle came into the crown's possession in 1587 but in 1612 was once again offered to the archbishops. Some Civil War prisoners captured at Philliphaugh were lodged in the castle prior to their execution in 1646. The castle was clearly uninhabitable by 1654 when the town council ordered the sale of its slates and timber for harbour repair (Roger, 1849, 91).

Information from ‘Historic St Andrews: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1981).

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