Sunday, March 5, 2023

St. Andrews

We headed back southwest of Fair Isle to mainland Scotland, landing near Aberdeen.  I think they were making things up as we went here, for we actually had to wade from the dinghies into shore.  We were taken by bus to Aberdeen where we got to look around a little, then on down the coast to Dunnotter Castle.

Dunnottar is a spectacular ruin, situated on a high rocky outcrop almost but not quite separated from the mainland, surrounded by the North Sea on three sides.  It has a long and violent history as the home of the Keiths, Earls Marischal for Scotland.

From there we rode on by bus to St. Andrews, ancient home of St. Andrews University, the third oldest university in the English-speaking world, and one of the best in the UK.  We had a short historical tour led by one of the students, wearing his bright red robe.

Among other things, he pointed out the town's most popular tourist site at the time, the dorm where William and Katherine met.

I was equally interested in the pattern of thick branches of the old apple trees.

The town grew up around St. Andrews Cathedral, where relics of St. Andrews were kept, brought to Scotland by St. Regulus.  Of course during the Reformation the cathedral was destroyed and it is now a sad ruin, most of the stone taken elsewhere for building purposes.  This cathedral suffered more than most with its fairly complete destruction.

You may remember the square St. Rules tower from my earlier post on our first trip to Scotland.  It is part of an earlier church, intended as a beacon for travelling pilgrims.

And we paused to remember George Wishart, his place of execution marked by bricks in the pavement.  Wishart was one of the very earliest preachers who laid the foundation for the Scottish Reformation.  We have just missed the 477th Anniversary of his death on March 1st.

As the plaque says, he was apprehended for his heretical preaching, condemned to death by the nefarious Cardinal Beaton and burned at the stake at this spot in St. Andrews, in 1546 while the Cardinal watched from a castle window.  Within three months a Protestant mob attacked the castle, murdering the Cardinal and hanging his own body from the window.  Thus was born the Protestant Church in Scotland.


  1. It was a beautiful visit. I have roots or one branch from Scotland as they came to South Carolina and bought a southern plantation.

  2. The thick branches of the old apple trees are amazing.

    All the best Jan

  3. Nice seeing the castle. I've been there and fell down some stairs there!! :). We lived between Aberdeen and Dundee.

  4. The history is intriguing and the ancient buildings and landscape are breathtaking. All of this to say, I have to find a way to get to visit at some point in the future.

  5. Fascinating history, and remarkable story about George Wishart and the Cardinal. And those old apple trees are really incredible. Good eye! :-)

  6. Another fascinating tour, and that tree was most excellent.

  7. Old apple trees always have character, but that one looks like the cream of the crop.