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Why is St Andrews called St Andrews?

DID you know our seaside town hasn’t always been named after the patron saint?

St Andrews is famed for being the home of golf, prestigious education and stunning scenery. Some may even say it is fit for royalty. But this beautiful part of East Neuk also has a rich and fascinating history dating back as far as 370 AD.


Mucross & Kilrymont

It is indeed named after the Scottish patron saint, but this hasn’t always been the case. The earliest known name of the town is Mucross, meaning ‘headland of the wild boar’, a nod to its rugged coastal landscape.

For years it was home to farmers and fishermen before being transformed during the Middle Ages with the arrival of monks, pilgrims, merchants and academics. From this point, the town was known as Kilrymont.


St Rule

The area didn’t have anything to do with its namesake until the 8th century. It was at this time when the bones of St Andrew were brought to Scotland by a Greek bishop called St Rule. Legend has it that he was ordered in a dream to take part of the remains to the ‘ends of the earth’ to keep them safe. After a treacherous sea journey, St Rule came ashore on the Fife coast.

People came from far and wide across Europe to visit the relics. According to Christian teachings, Andrew had been one of Jesus Christ’s Twelve Apostles. He was crucified by the Romans in Patras in Greece where he was thought to have been the first bishop there. As a result, the settlement we know today as St Andrews became a popular medieval Christian pilgrimage site.


St Andrew

Andrew was not made a saint until much later in Scotland’s history – during the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. He is also the patron saint of Greece, Russia and Romania. There are still remains kept in Patras in Greece, in the Southern Italian town of Amalfi and in St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh to this day.

The influence of St Andrew on Scottish society extends far beyond the town of his namesake.  It is thought that the national flag is designed with an X-shaped cross because of the shape of the cross he was crucified on.

Others say that in 823 AD, St Andrew appeared in a dream to the Pictish king on the night before a battle against the Northumbrians. On the day of the battle, in what is now known as Athelstaneford in East Lothian, a saltire appeared in the sky and the Picts were victorious, despite the fact they were heavily outnumbered.


Explore Modern St Andrews

In St Andrews today, the rich history of the town can be further explored by paying a visit to the striking ruins of St Andrews Cathedral and St Rule’s Tower, as well as the ruins of the Chapel of St Mary on the Rock, which is thought to be the first site of the relics of St Andrew.

Located in the heart of the town, The Walled Gardens is an award-winning luxury retirement development, with a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments.

They are designed to offer security, independence and peace of mind blending traditional architecture and spacious interiors, all of which offer the perfect base to enjoy the town.

The stunning luxury apartments are being jointly marketed by Rettie & Co. and locally by Thorntons. Prices start from £180,000 and are available on an innovative shared ownership basis, which offers buyers the chance to purchase 75%, with the option to buy the further 25% after one year residence.