10 November 2013
St. Andrews in a whirlwind
Last Wednesday, for an outing with my history of architecture class, I tagged along on a whirlwind tour of St. Andrew's best-known ruins. I honestly think we spent more time on the bus to and from there than we spent actually in town, but I got the general idea. It was like a preview trip, and perhaps when the weather is nicer, it would be nice to go there and spend a day shopping or walking along the beach.
Of course, we were there to talk architecture, which at the cathedral and nearby castle is mostly medieval with some Renaissance additions. So to share just a few random snaps...
The weathered stone is still fascinating. Here, entrance remains to the main cathedral. The stone is so softened and run down, but you can still make out the texture of the original design, which at one time would have just been stunning. Below, a detail of a Celtic cross shaft and also a detail from the 8th century (!!!) Pictish sarcophagus depicting a hunt, designed for a king (although which king or if a king at all was interred here, we don't know). Just marvelous. I geek out over things this old--the fact that the carving remains so sharp after all this time is amazing.
The cathedral itself is quite fascinating... conservators grass is neatly trimmed around the bases of the old columns, and it's interesting to see where original doorways were walled up, extensions were made in different styles, and where wooden screens might have originally stood.
We climbed tall St. Rule's Tower with its super-narrow, maddening and seemingly unending spiral stairwell to the top where we could look out over the expanse of the city, the hills in the distance, and of course, the North Sea. We were there late in the afternoon (which really counts during the time of year that the sun is set by 4:30!) and it was quite cold and windy, so although the light was less than ideal for photos, we at least had some interesting skies.
...and then it got dark! C'est la vie. St. Andrew's, I'll be back.