St Andrews Castle was the official residence of the bishops (later archbishops) of St Andrews. It was begun by Bishop Roger (1189-1202), but suffered extensive damage during the Wars of Independence with England in the late-twelfth and early-fourteenth centuries, during which conflict it changed hands a number of times. It was rebuilt by Bishop Walter Trail (1385–1401).
Archbishop James Beaton (1521–39), in office when Patrick Hamilton was executed, added new gun towers to the castle. It was besieged later in the sixteenth century in response to Beaton’s nephew, Cardinal David Beaton, burning the Protestant preacher George Wishart. Wishart’s supporters gained entry and assassinated the archbishop. They were themselves subsequently besieged by the Regent Arran’s forces- an event which led to the construction of the mine and counter-mine which still survives under the castle.
Following the reformation the castle fell into ruin. The great hall and other buildings collapsed in the nineteenth century.
Click here for a virtual tour of the modern ruins of the castle.
Click on the video below for a tour of a reconstruction of how the castle would have looked c. 1520. (Credit: Open Virtual Worlds / Smart History)