St Regulus' Church, St Andrews

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 51470 16640, map


Cathedral Precinct
St Andrews
KY16 9QZ

Also known as:

  • St Rule's Church
  • St Rule's Tower


This church was begun in around 1070 by Bishop Robert to house relics of St Andrew, and the immensely tall west tower, rising without interruption for 33 metres was a landmark for pilgrims.  In the early to mid 12th century the church was extended west and east with a nave and new chancel, and in the 17th century a corbelled parapet was added to the top of the tower   It is considered to be one of the finest-built buildings of its date in Britain. It stands in what is now within the grounds of St Andrews Cathedral, which superceded St Regulus' Church in the later 12th century.

Description (exterior)

The shrine itself consists of a small chancel,7.9m by 6m.   The building was constructed in very well dressed local grey ashlar stone blocks.

The western nave that was accessed from the tower through  the large arch was about 4 metres wider than the tower. Above the now roofless chancel on the east side three successive roof pitches are marked.    It is thought the middle roof level was the original, with a 13th or 14th century taller roof, followed by the 15th century lower one. The arch that gave access to the eastern chancel is also blocked up. The four round-arched windows of the chancel are placed two on each side wall (north and south). These are a continuation of the wall, with sloping cills on both aspects. Externally, the top of the window is shaped from a single lintel stone but on the inside is composed of multiple stones. During the early twelfth century a later extension built onto the east of the original apse necessitated a large archway being cut into the chancel's east wall.   The western nave, that was accessed from the tower by the large arch, was about 4 metres wider than the tower.  The chancel built onto the east side of the tower is the original. It has four round-arched windows, two on each side wall (north and south).   A later chancel or apse was built onto the east of the original apse, necessitating a large archway being cut into the chancel's east wall, in the early 12th century.

There were a number of different phases of building of this church, but only the earlier period survives today.   The tower has narrow round-headed windows, with two-light openings for the small belfry near the top of the tower.  The west face of the tower shows the scar where the later nave was cut into it, with the large arch leaving a horse-shoe shaped mark. The arch was later blocked, sometime in the 15th century.  Another large arch gave access from the tower into the eastern chancel. This, like the western tower arch, was blocked up many centuries ago.   The arches of the windows are carved from single blocks of stone on the outside, while in the inside they are arches made from blocks of stone.

Description (interior)

People / Organisations:

Pre-reformation Church of ScotlandDenominationC1560
Saint RegulusDedicateeC1070-NOW


  • Church: Founded (0700)
    People: Ungus
  • Church: Addition (1100)
    Church extended, with new nave and chancel.
  • Church: Build/construction (1200)
    Tower built.
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1400sl)
    Doorway in tower made narrower.
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1500)
    Tower altered with addition of parapet and new spire.
  • Church: Repair (1780)
  • Church: Build/construction (C1070)
    Church built.

Archive References:

Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 34371
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 40588
Scran - Online databaseReference: 000-000-108-811-CImage and research: Abby Hunt.
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 1472

Bibliographic References:

St Andrews Cathedral: official guide.Historic Scotland1999Text: Richard Fawcett. Page: 8-9.
The Cathedral of St Andrews and St. Regulus ChurchStewart Cruden1950