St Andrews Cathedral celebrates 700th anniversary

Tuesday 26 June 2018

A pageant to celebrate the 700th anniversary of St Andrews Cathedral will be held on Saturday 30 June at the historic landmark.

Entitled, ‘The Story of St Andrews Cathedral’, it will trace the history of the religious building from the Early Middle Ages through to the Reformation. Staff from the University of St Andrews will join with local residents to help mark the anniversary of the consecration of the Cathedral in July 1318.

During the Middle Ages, St Andrews Cathedral was the most important religious site in Scotland. Construction of the main Cathedral church took more than 150 years to complete, and was the largest building ever constructed in Scotland before the nineteenth century.

Bishop Lamberton will be represented by Frank Quinault and Robert the Bruce by Michael Lewis in the pageant.

Its consecration in 1318 was a major national event attended by King Robert the Bruce and the leading nobles and churchmen of Scotland which saw the building officially blessed and dedicated to God functioning, in many ways, as its official ‘opening ceremony’. As part of the festivities, King Robert gave substantial gifts to the Cathedral in gratitude for his previous victory against the English at Bannockburn in 1314.

The pageant will retell, for modern audiences, the highs and lows of the Cathedral’s past, exploring how this remote corner of North East Fife came to be a focal point for the entire kingdom of Scotland, and the events which brought the Cathedral’s downfall. The pageant was specially created for the anniversary and includes tales of warfare, plague and murder as well as more peaceful moments of construction, education, hope and friendship.

Written by Dr Bess Rhodes of the School of History at the University of St Andrews, the pageant will be directed by St Andrews residents Wendy Quinault of the St Andrews Play Club, and heraldic expert Ormond Pursuivant of Arms, Mark Dennis.

Costumes for the pageant have been provided by the Kate Kennedy Trust, which worked with the University and with Historic Environment Scotland to organise the event.

Dr Rhodes said: “The Cathedral is a key building in the history of St Andrews and the nation. I am delighted that so many people have come together to celebrate this important anniversary. The pageant will mean that all ages can discover the remarkable stories of Robert the Bruce, John Knox, Bishop Wardlaw and the murderous Canon Thomas Platar.”

To mark the anniversary, Historic Environment Scotland will waive admission fees to the Cathedral grounds for those attending the pageant. Tickets for admission to the Cathedral Museum and St Rule’s Tower will be available to buy from the visitor centre or online.

The pageant will take place in St Andrews Cathedral by the site of the former High Altar – within yards of where the shrine of St Andrew, the nation’s patron saint, was once located. The pageant starts at 2pm and will be finished before 4pm. All ages are welcome. Tickets are available online.

Further details about events to mark the 700th anniversary of the consecration of St Andrews Cathedral can also be found online.

Caption for the pageant photo: 'Bishop Lamberton will be represented by Frank Quinault and Robert the Bruce by Michael Lewis in the pageant.'

Dr Rhodes is available for interview via the Communications Office.  St Andrews has an in-house ISDN line for radio and a Globelynx camera for TV interviews.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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