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St Andrews Castle

St Andrews Castle occupies a prominent position on the cliffs, overlooking a small beach known as the Castle Sands. The structure that now occupies the site was built in about 1400 by Bishop Trail and then added to in later centuries, but there is evidence of an earlier 13th century building in the vicinity. Those expecting what could be considered a traditional castle will be disappointed; the building looks far more like a fortified manor house due to the late date of its construction.

The Castle itself has seen more than its fair share of intrigues, with murder, imprisonment and warfare all playing a part in its history. The most interesting structure is the Bottle Dungeon; a 22 feet deep cell dug into the rock beneath one of the towers which was accessible through a narrow trapdoor. Prisoners were simply dropped in and left there, and the shape of the dungeon meant that escape was virtually impossible. There are also mine workings underneath the castle, which were dug to try and slight the building during a local insurrection by landowners in 1546, who reacted to the burning at the stake of George Wishart, a Protestant preacher. There is a commemoration to him outside the castle walls. The siege that followed resulted in mines and countermines being excavated, and it is possible for visitors to go into these.The castle was ruined by a combined force of besiegers and French forces in 1647, though it was rebuilt in the elaborate style by Archbishop Hamilton, who was then hung for possibly participating in the plot against Darnley, the murdered husband of Mary Queen of Scots.

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