The History of St Andrews

The captivating town of St Andrews is one rich in history and heritage. History can be found in every corner of town and evidenced in the architecture and landmarks. The earliest recorded history of St Andrew dates back to the 6th century when St Regulus introduced Christianity to the town. The town became the Ecclesial capital of Scotland and was renamed St Andrews after Andrew the Apostle. Construction of St Andrews Cathedral began in 1158 which was once the largest building in Europe and although it now lies in ruins, it remains the largest Cathedral ever built in Scotland. The Cathedral was consecrated in 1318 but sadly, it was downhill from there. In 1378, a fire consumed a large part of the Cathedral and in 1409, severe storms caused further damage. During the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century, Catholic mass was outlawed and the Cathedral was abandoned and left to ruin. The Martyr Memorial honours the martyrs of the Scottish Reformation.

In sporting history, St Andrews is renowned as the birthplace of golf with the modern game established in the early 1400’s. St Andrews is home to some of the oldest golf courses in the world, including the Old Course, the world’s oldest course. In 1754, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club was founded, a private members only golf club that until 2004 was the governing authority of golf. In 2004, a spin-off organisation, The R&A, was created with headquarters remaining in St Andrews. The R&A governs golf across the world with the exception of the US and Mexico where it is run by UGSA. To this day, St Andrews remains one of the world’s leading golfing destinations.

St Andrews also has a long educational history, home to the University of St Andrews, the oldest university in Scotland and the third oldest in the world. As of 2022, the University of St Andrews is ranked the leading university in the UK and has an outstanding list of notable alumni.

For a greater insight into the history, heritage and culture of St Andrews, the town boasts a number of fascinating and immersive museums providing in depth looks at the history of St Andrews.

A timeline of St Andrews history

573-600: St Regulus, a Columban Missionary brings Christianity to St Andrews. The town is later named after Andrew, a disciple of Jesus.

761-908: Culdee Community establishes Church of St. Mary on the Rock.

1071: Queen Margaret escaped across the River Forth, from forces of William the Conqueror. In gratitude, she thereafter granted free passage by “Queensferry” to pilgrims to St. Andrews.

1158: Construction of St. Andrews Cathedral was begun by Bishop Arnold.

1203: The original castle was constructed by Bishop Roger as a fortress and ecclesiastical residence.

1318: Consecration of the Cathedral on July 5th by Bishop Lamberton in the presence of King Robert the Bruce, who allegedly rode his horse up the central aisle.

1378: Fire consumes a large part of the cathedral, the cathedral choir and transepts.

C.1400s: The game of golf was established in St Andrews.

1409: Severe storms damage the Cathedral’s south transept and the harbour.

1413: The University of St Andrews is established.

1433: The first martyr of St Andrews, Paul Craw, was burned at the stake in Market Street during the Scottish Reformation.

1457: Scottish parliament passes a law prohibiting the playing of golf on Sunday’s. Residents of St Andrews are encouraged to attend Church and practice archery which is a more useful skill for military purposes.

1800: John Honey, a student, swims out to the wreck of the sailing vessel “Janet” and rescues the five sailors.

1832: Madras College is founded by Dr. Andrew Bell, using principles derived while in Madras, India. The school opened in 1833.

1834: William III of Scotland confers on the Society of St. Andrews Golfers the title The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.

1842: Martyrs Monument on the scores is erected to commemorate the Protestant martyrs Paul Craw (1433), Patrick Hamilton (1528), Henry Forrest (1533)George Wishart (1546) and Walter Myln (1558).

1868: The first recorded “hole in one” is made by Young Tom Morris during the Open Championship at Prestwick. He won the championship four years in a row;a feat which has not been equalled.

1877: St. Leonard ‘s School for Girls is founded with the efforts to establish the school being led by Miss Louisa Lumsden who became the headmistress.

1897: The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews is recognized as the governing body for the rules of golf.

1933: The first Byre Theatre is established in an old cow shed (byre).

1995: Scotland’s golfers win the Alfred Dunhill Cup. John Daly sinks a 65 foot putt on the 18th green of the Old Course, to force a tie breaker for the British Open, which he then goes on to win.


Why is St Andrews so famous?
The Scottish town of St Andrews is widely accepted as the ‘home of golf’ having established the sport in the early 1400s. The town is also home to one of the world’s most prestigious educational facilities, the University of St Andrews. The university has a wealth of notable alumni including the Prince and Princess of Wales.

What was St Andrews called before?
St Andrews is named after Andrew, a disciple of Jesus. The town was named St Andrews in the 8th century after Christianity was introduced in the 6th century. Prior to being called St Andrews, the earliest recorded name was the Gaelic, Cennrígmonaid.

What famous people went to St Andrews?
The University of St Andrews has a wealth of notable alumni including celebrities, Royalty and Nobel laureates. Throughout its 600-year history, the university has educated many philosophers and theorists who have gone on to achieve great success in a wealth of industries. However, most notably, William, the Prince of Wales, and Catherine, Princess of Wales, met at the university and graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2005.

What is the oldest golf course in the world?
The Old Course, part of the St Andrews Links, is the world’s oldest golf course. Golf was established here in the early 1400’s and to this day, the Old Course is the most famous golf course in the world.

The Home of Golf

You owe it to yourself to experience, at least once in your lifetime, the commonly accepted birthplace of golf – St. Andrews. St Andrews Golf Links has six beautiful courses.

Where To Stay

St Andrews has a range of quality accommodation, from hotels to guest houses. Here we recommend accommodation for you to book in order to fully enjoy your stay in Fife.

What makes St Andrews & Fife great?

About St Andrews has visitor information for accommodation in St Andrews, things to do when visiting and enjoying the spectacular selection of world famous golf courses in Fife, Scotland.


Education At St Andrews University

St Andrews is Scotland’s 1st University and the 3rd oldest in the UK, upholding academic excellence.

Mountain Bike

Exciting Outdoor Activities

A wide range of activities in St Andrews keep adults & children occupied and content.


Fantastic Accommodation

St Andrews has a range of quality accommodation, from hotels, guest houses and self catering.

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