St Andrews - History

History

The first inhabitants who settled on the estuary fringes of the river Tay and Eden during the mesolithic (middle stone age) came from the plains in Northern Europe between 10,000 to 5,000 BC. This was followed by the nomadic people who settled around the modern town around 4,500 BC as farmers cleaning the area of woodland and building monuments.

In AD 877, king Causantín mac Cináeda (Constantine I or II) built a new church for the Culdees at St Andrews and later the same year was captured and executed (or perhaps killed in battle) after defending against Viking raiders.

In AD 906, the town became the seat of the bishop of Alba, with the boundaries being extended to include land between the River Forth and River Tweed.

The establishment of the present town began around 1140 by Bishop Robert on a L-shaped vill, possibly on the site of the ruined St Andrews Castle. According to a charter of 1170, the new burgh was built to the west of the Cathedral precinct, along Castle Street and possibly as far as what is now known as North Street. This means that the lay-out may have led to the creation of two new streets (North Street and South Street) from the foundations of the new St Andrews Cathedral filling the area inside a two-sided triangle at its apex. The northern boundary of the burgh was the southern side of the Scores (the street between North Street and the sea) with the southern by the Kinness Burn and the western by the West Port. The burgh of St Andrews was first represented at the great council at Scone Palace in 1357.

Recognised as the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland, the town now had vast economic and political influence within Europe as a cosmopolitan town. In 1559, the town fell into decay after the violent Scottish Reformation and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms losing the status of ecclesiastical capital of Scotland. Even the St Andrews University were in consideration over a re-location to Perth around 1697 and 1698. Under the authorisation of the bishop of St Andrews, the town was made a burgh of barony in 1614. Royal Burgh was then granted as a charter by King James VI in 1620. In the 18th century, the town was still in decline, but despite this the town was becoming known for having links 'well known to golfers'. By the 19th century, the town began to expand beyond the original medieval boundaries with streets of new houses and town villas being built. Today, St Andrews is served by education, golf and the tourist and conference industry.

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