Note: all photos mine, unless credited.Click to enlarge. Monday, September 18
The first part of the day's adventure was walking from my hotel to the train station. The lovely receptionist assured me it was a ten minute walk. I doubted her, but allowed 30 minutes. My bad -- I didn't specify WHICH train station. Yes the Haymarket train station is quite close to the Britannia, but I was traveling out of the main station, Waverley.
Oops. I missed my train by about 4 minutes. Oh well, it didn't matter -- there's a train about every 30 minutes from Waverly to St. Andrews. With some help, I managed the automatic ticketing process, and had enough time to snag breakfast: sausage rolls and fresh cut fruit, from a shop at the station that strongly resembled Whole Foods.
I also took a minute to refresh my memory of British coinage, stacking them from smallest to largest value (I had to put the pound coins on top, because room).
Those of you who regularly travel by train or bus might be quite blasé, but I'm not. The whole thing made me feel like I'd leveled up in my ability to manage unfamiliar challenges.
The ScotRail trains, at least on this line, are helpfully equipped with wifi, and some cars have charging stations, so I was able to catch up on overnight mail and get started on these posts while traveling to St. Andrews. Plan A was Maddie Grace was free from 1 to 4ish, so we would meet up, have lunch, and then she would show me around the University for a bit. The way from Edinburgh is easy: train to Leuchars, then a bus to St. Andrews. So I arrived mid-morning, so I could do the poking about the Cathedral and Castle to my heart’s content.
(image thanks to Mappery.com: https://www.mappery.com/map-of/St-Andrews-Scotland-Tourist-Map)
Here's one ancient entry gate to the city.
The gate is called Westport, and I proceeded up Westport to the Blackfriars chapel, which is a ruin, and gave me furiously to think. The Dominicans wore black cloaks, and were commonly referred to as “Blackfriars”. The chapel was built in the 1520s, and was destroyed during the Scottish Reformation in the 1560s.
I keep looking at ruins and thinking, "How many hours of skilled and heartfelt labor did it take to make this? Were the makers still alive when the chapel was demolished (
Even in ruination it is beautiful. I imagined it as it was when whole, and a place made sacred by the monks’ daily prayers. Then I imaged how it came to be ruined, the passion and the fury of the Scottish Reformation.
The cathedral and its friary effectively ceased to function on 14 June 1559 when further attacks took place, and within a week all the friars has been "violently expelled" from St Andrews.
“On 11 June 1559 John Knox preached a sermon in St Andrews parish church that so aroused the congregation they immediately went to the cathedral and destroyed the splendid fittings and furnishings associated by the reformers with "popery" (see our Historical Timeline). The end followed quickly. The Church of St Mary on the Rock was probably completely destroyed shortly after it was first attacked. The cathedral and its friary effectively ceased to function on 14 June 1559 when further attacks took place, and within a week all the friars has been "violently expelled" from St Andrews.”
(Aside: One thing that confuses me (and possibly many USians) is that one long street (like the one that stretches from Westport to the Cathedral) can change names as it goes. I kept going though as the map was pretty clear.)
After you pass through that small gate, if you look to your right you see:
This would I think have been the gate from the harbor to the town enclosure, including the Cathedral.
I then proceeded to the ruins of the Cathedral, starting with the West entrance, most of which still stands. Stepping through, it’s not hard to imagine how imposing the space must have been to even the powerful in the 1100s, as the cathedral was constructed (consecrated 1358) , and again, the paroxysms of the Reformation that led to its destruction. I was also musing on the hundreds of thousands of hours of labor, skilled or not, that the completed cathedral represented — not to mention the treasure — and how it was ruined.
In the midst of these deep thoughts (just after 11 am), Maddie texted me. Plan change! We were to meet for lunch as soon as she could get herself organized, as she had some other obligations in the afternoon. So I made my way to the Visitors Information Center to meet up, and we proceeded Tailend restaurant for lunch. The food was delightful (the chips are indeed great). But the company was better yet.
Mads is really growing and expanding, as one should at university. The rest is her story.
After lunch we went around St. Salvator's chapel and the university, then a brief tour of Maddie's lodging (quite nice, if still recovering from... oh, never mind), and parted ways.
I went back to my interrupted tour of historic St. Andrews -- the cathedral, the castle, and a treasure of a local history museum.
My plan had been to climb St. Rule's Tower, so I could survey the surroundings, like this:
(image souce: undiscovered scotland)
Well, I got about ten steps up the narrow circular staircase and -- some of you may remember I've developed a problem with vertigo when exposed to heights, or more specifically, empty air. I figured going up would be not a problem, but getting down might involve crawling and weeping. I abandoned my plan, and moved on, first to the ruins of St. Mary of the Rocks -- another old, old,old story of political strife within the Church, and then around the point. I meant to proceed to the Bishop of St. Andrew's Castle, but somehow got sidetracked onto North Street, and I'm glad I did.
North Street represents the old fisher quarter, and the St. Andrews Preservation Trust Museum is a tiny gem of a museum at 12 North Street, representing life in the quarter. Up to about the interwar years (1930s) the 4-room house would have housed 4 families, with a possible maximum capacity of 40 people.
This is one thing that struck me. Until the 1930s, this privy would have served up to 80 people -- the residents of 12 North Street, and the similar dwelling next door.
Here's the interior of the privy. Of course, most people would have used a chamber pot for many calls of nature, and emptied same into the privy.
And probably, the interior would have been white-washed more recently... We take so much for granted, we being prosperous urban people. The default setting for toilet needs is clean and with a working flusher. You don't have to encounter your own waste, urine and feces -- it is carried away by potable water.
Another thing the little museum makes clear: how much hand labor went into daily life, labor that has been eliminated in most US life for so long it is invisible. This is a recreation of the wash house that would have been in use up until my mother's lifetime:
The gardens of the Trust Museum are lovely and have been developed in several ways. If you are in St. Andrews (even for the sacred game of golf) this gem is worth a visit.
I then went to St. Andrew's Castle. I think I'm not alone among USians who imagine (or who have the unexamined belief) that castles were the seat of ruling nobles, and the Church was something separate. Well, no. This castle was the Bishop's castle, and the Bishop had both secular and religious authority and duties.
The separation of church and state is so engrained in the American mind that it's hard to take in -- that a bishop, any representative of religion, would need to have a redoubt like this (even in ruins):
This is the view from the sea-side, looking back to the entrance gate and what were probably the Bishop's quarters, to the left. There's more about the Castle here: Historical Environment: Scotland
I was actually on my way to another restaurant further up the street recommended to me by a friend, but at this other establishment there was a wait, and I didn't feel a great attraction to the menu, so I walked back down the street and noticed that, while the restaurant was quite busy, I saw few people who looked like me seated in the restaurant, Saigon Saigon. I asked the host if it was all right if I only had a bowl of soup, and he said, of course, and I was seated right away.
I was too tired for a large meal, so I had a bowl of Hot & Sour Soup and a Tsingtao. Hot & Sour soup is always an adventure, each restaurant has a different approach. This one was thick with vegetables all of which were good in texture, with a good balance of tofu and chicken. Verdict: The hot and sour soup was very, very good, which revived me and my appetite, so I ordered some Dim Sum and another beer.
The menu described this dish as "prawn and chives". I'd say, shrimp and green onion. It was very, very good. Should you find yourself in Edinburgh, near the train station, I recommend this establishment.
Thus fortified I walked back to the hotel-that-shall-not-be-named, and thus to bed.