Once we crossed the Firth of Forth (the mouth of the River Forth) on our way to Saint Andrews, we turned off the highway and followed the coast. Our first stop was in the village of Easter Aberdour, at the Sands, A Place by the Sea cafe, where we dined on tea, soup, sandwiches, and the obligatory “scone with cream and jam”.
After lunch, we visited the nearby, Aberdour Castle, which is among the oldest masonry castles still standing in Scotland. The original structure is believed to have been constructed in the early to mid-1100’s, possibly by Sir Alan Mortimer.
In 1325, Robert the Bruce granted Aberdour to his nephew, Thomas Randolph, first Earl of Moray. But the castle and lands soon changed hands again, when 1342 Moray’s younger son passed them on to Sir William Douglas. Sir Douglas’s descendants became earls of Morton and lords of Dalkeith. In the 1400’s, the Douglases heightened the hall-house at Aberdour, and made it into a more typical Scottish tower house. Additional stone buildings were added to the structure over the subsequent generations. These additions eventually replaced the family rooms in the tower house. The Douglas Earls of Morton used Aberdour as a second home until 1642, when their primary residence, Dalkeith House, was sold. A fire at Aberdour castle in the late 17th century was followed by some repairs, but in 1725 the family purchased nearby Aberdour House, and the medieval castle was allowed to fall into decay. Today, only the 17th-century wing remains roofed, while the tower has mostly collapsed.
The castle has terraced gardens in the back, and at the far edge there stands a large circular beehive dovecot (birdhouse for pigeons) that contains 396 stone nesting boxes. On its sloped exterior walls, there are four courses of stone that project outward. These features are not just for looks. They are “rat courses”, which form barriers to prevent rats from being able to scale the outer walls to get into the dovecot via the open “flight hole”. This dovecot would have provided an important source of meat and manure for the castle residents, in addition to serving as a status symbol.
Saint Fillan’s Church at Aberdour
Next door to Aberdour Castle is Saint Fillan’s Church. It dates to 1123. The church was abandoned in 1790 because the Countess of Morton did not like the populace of Aberdour coming to worship so close to Aberdour Castle, so a new church was built on High Street. After falling into a ruinous condition, the church was restored in 1925-6.
Nearby, St. Fillan’s Well, also known as the Pilgrim’s Well, was renowned for its eye healing qualities. It was situated to the south east corner of the churchyard but now lies in a private garden and is covered over and drained. In 1447 land to the north of the church was granted for the construction of a hospice, known as the Hospital of St. Martha, to accommodate the large numbers of pilgrims coming to visit the well.
Saint Andrews Cathedral
From Aberdour, we drove to Saint Andrews. To me, the Cathedral was just awe inspiring, but it was also amazing to be standing on top of a man-made structure (Rule’s Tower) that has been standing for almost 900 years.
Seeing the grandeur of Saint Andrews, even how it could have been conceived so long ago, makes me feel like I am an alien on my own planet. If they were able to do so much with so little, why is it that we with so much have achieved so little?
Saint Andrews Castle
From the Cathedral, we walked over to Saint Andrews Castle.
Saint Andrews Golf Course
Looking for lunch, we were told that the British Golf Museum Cafe at the Saint Andrews golf course was only a ‘wee walk’ from the castle. It was a nice walk, but I wouldn’t call it a ‘wee’ walk. Our ‘tea’ was great, and of course I had a ‘scone with cream and jam’.
Bo, Peggy, and Patty attempted to reach the famous Swilcan Bridge (dead center) at the 18th hole, but it was not to be.
The golf course at Saint Andrews was pretty nice. With the beautiful greens and fantastic vistas, I can see why it is considered one of the best golf courses in the world. But personally, I think they should fill in all those little holes, put up soccer goals, and call it ‘good’.
Back in Edinburgh
We took a different route through Saint Andrews back to our rental car. We dropped off the rental car at the airport, and we took a train to TBD. Coming from the station, we stopped at the Amarone Restaurant on Saint Andrew Square and had a delicious dinner (I had the risotto with smoked salmon.). There we got into a conversation with a couple next to us, who were from Glasgow, and who were heading to Madrid, Spain to see fellow Scot Andy Murray play tennis in the ATP World Masters Tour. He gave me an education regarding Celtic vs. Rangers ‘football’. We finished up at about 8:00 pm.
We walked back to the hotel, and after Patty called it a night.
I went back out to take a few photos. For the one below, I asked the driver if he would allow me to photograph him, and when he agreed, I asked him if he would turn on his headlights, and the dome light. His expression tells a story.