St Andrews Castle

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St Andrews Castle is a picturesque ruin located in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. It stands on rocky promontory above the beach called Castle Sands and the North Sea.

St Andrews Castle was built of stone in the times of bishop Roger de Beaumont around the year 1200. It was the seat of bishops when St Andrews served as the ecclesiastical centre of Scotland during the Protestant Reformation. During the Wars of Scottish Independence the castle was destroyed and rebuilt several times as it changed hands between the Scots and the English. In 1336-1337 it was destroyed by the Scots to prevent the English from once again using it as a stronghold. It remained in this ruined state until bishop Walter Trail rebuilt it at the turn of the century. His castle forms the basis of what can be seen today. Over the next several years it was home to several kings (Jameses I, II and III of Scotland). During these years, the castle also served as a notorious prison (some of its prisoners were, David Duke of Rothesay, Duke Mrudoch and St Andrews’ first Archbishop, Patrick Graham).

During the Scottish Reformation, the castle became a centre of religious persecution and controversy. After the Archbishop, Cardinal David Beaton, had Protestant Preacher George Wishart executed, a group of Fife Lairds who were Protestants, entered the castle dressed as workmen and murdered him. The rebels held the castle for about a year, during which time the Earl of Arran held siege on the castle inflicting extensive damage. John Knox was one of the garrison during the siege. It also resulted in the castle acquiring perhaps its most treasured feature – the mine and countermine. These underground passages are unique survivals of medieval siege warfare.

With the eventual success of the Reformation in Scotland, the office of the bishop was increasingly eroded until it was finally abolished by William of Orange in 1689. Deprived of any function, the castle fell rapidly into ruin.

By 1656, the castle had fallen into such disrepair that the burgh council ordered the use of its materials in repairing the pier. The principal remains are a portion of the south wall enclosing a square tower, the "bottle dungeon," the kitchen tower, and the underground mine and counter-mine.

Nowadays St Andrews Castle is owned and maintained by Historic Scotland and it is opened to public. The castle is controlled by Bishop of St Andrews.
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