The stunning medieval city of St Andrews is well known these days for its famous golf course (the world's oldest) and Scotland's first and finest university, recently made famous by its royal alumni. Set on the stunning north coast of the Kingdom of Fife, St Andrews is just one hour away from Edinburgh. On this St Andrews day trip from Edinburgh we'll join a local historian and take a walk through the historic core of the town, visit the university, and explore the intricate links between the history of golf and the history of the town.
St Andrews Day Trip
We'll set out by private car from Edinburgh for the hour-long drive to St Andrews. Much smaller than neighboring Edinburgh, St Andrews has over two millennia of history embedded in its streets. Its origins date back to 4,500 BC when farmers cleared the area of woodland and started building monuments on the site of the modern town. During our visit, we will focus especially on the period from the 12th century, when the town and its cathedral became most important center of pilgrimage in medieval Scotland, to modern times.
In the four centuries between the building of the cathedral and the Scottish Reformation, St Andrews flourished, becoming an important center of culture and trade, with a large economic and political influence in Scotland and Europe. The cathedral’s importance related to its shrine with the relics of St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter, who became the Scottish national saint during the later middle ages. The cathedral itself was the largest in Scotland, and shorter only than Canterbury, York, and Durham in the British Isles. The grandeur of this period is still visible in the ruins of the cathedral as well as the castle, which was the residence of the bishops of St Andrews, as well as in some parts of the university.
Back in Edinburgh, a good walk to take in order to prepare for this day trip to St. Andrews is our Old Town Edinburgh Tour
Visit St Andrews University
St Andrews University was for centuries closely linked to the church, with the colleges being run in absolute integration of church and academic life, teaching and preaching. We will discuss this close relation during our visit to St Salvator’s College Quad. Here we'll learn about the role of the institution through history, from the glorious years under Bishop James Kennedy to the terrible years following the reformation of 1559, all the way to modern times and the sudden surge of celebrity of the university following the enrollment as an undergraduate of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge in 2001.
Home of Golf
The last part of our day will be dedicated to what is probably the city's most famous association: golf. Far from being just a pasttime, golf is woven into the history of St Andrews as much as the university and the cathedral. The history of golf here dates back to Archbishop Hamilton's charter in 1552 recognizing the right of the people of St Andrews to play golf on the Links. Today, the Old Course is considered worldwide as the Home of Golf and the most prestigious seat of the Open Championship. As we walk through the course (minding players) we will learn about the origins of the game (or games, as there used to be two), how one survived the other, and its associations to the Royals and to St Andrews.
We will end the day returning to Edinburgh and driving along the stunning coast of Fife and across the Fourth Road Bridge, having learned about this fascinating city, its history and traditions, and having seen a beautiful part of the country only 1 hour from Edinburgh.