A few hundred metres along the craggy coastline from St Andrews Cathedral sits the remains of St Andrews Castle. It was built on a headland, projecting into St Andrews Bay and protected by steep cliffs that run along two sides, as well as a great ditch cut through the solid bedrock to the south and west.
Little remains of original castle, which was the St Andrews Episcopal Palace for 400 years. As well as being the main residence of the bishops, and later the archbishops, of St Andrews, the castle has also served as a fortress and a prison. Throughout its history, it was also the setting for many important events, including James I’s Christmas celebrations in 1425, and is thought to be the birthplace of James III in 1452.
The castle was always intended to impress and the south side, facing the town, housed the main entrance, contained within the imposing fore tower. The entrance was moved to its current location during the time of Bishop Walter Traiil (1385-1401). The impressive front that can be seen today was built in the time of Archbishop Hamleton (1546-71) and once displayed his coat of arms.
Today, the Fore Tower contains some of the castle’s earliest surviving stonework, which is thought to belong to the original castle of the 1100s.
- Information signs at St Andrews Castle
- Official Souvenir Guide: St Andrews Castle, Cathedral and Historic Burgh