We visited St Andrews Castle during our wee trip to Fife back in March. None of us had ever been St Andrews before and we decided while we were there to put our Historic Scotland passes to good use.
Dating back to the 13th century, St Andrews castle was once the main residence of the bishops and archbishops of St Andrews and throughout its history was destroyed and rebuilt many times, changing hands between the Scottish and the English.
When you first head in through the castle gate you’ll come to a visitor centre. In there is a nice interactive exhibit with audio which explains some of the history of the castle.
The castle is a ruin, but there are still lots of different parts to explore. Head over the bridge and into the beautiful big archway that once led into the castle; have a look into the bottle dungeon and imagine what it was being imprisoned there 600 years ago.
Kids will love exploring all the different rooms and spaces around the castle. If your kids are anything like mine they’ll also love to make games and stories as they go.
My kids’ favourite part of St Andrews castle was the mine. The history of it is really interesting (there’s a whole siege story and there’s a mine and counter-mine) and you can still see the pick marks from those who originally dug the tunnel out. It’s a bit tricky to get down there as the tunnel is pretty small at first but it does widen out and you can stand in it when you get farther in. The kids loved heading down there – it felt like a real adventure for them!
The castle is situated on a little outcrop of land on the edge of a sea cliff, and the views out towards the water are beautiful. There’s also a little bay right beside it where you can head down afterwards for a wee splash in the water.
The Extra Bits
- Dogs aren’t allowed in this castle. Entrance is via the visitor centre and shop and dogs aren’t permitted inside. It was freezing when we were there so the pup could just stay in her cosy bed in the car, but on a sunny or hot day, one of your group might need to wait outside with your pup. It’s ok though – you can just grab a cuppa and head down to the beach next to the castle.
- Generally castles aren’t particularly buggy or wheel friendly and St Andrews Castle is no different. There are quite a few bits with stairs going up and down, and the mine is quite tricky to fit into just walking. The visitor centre is fully wheelchair accessible though.
- If you’re going to visit a few Historic Scotland properties over the course of a year, especially either Edinburgh or Stirling castle, it’s well worth getting passes as the cost of visiting each individually can mount up.
Entry to the castle costs £9 for adults, £7.20 for concessions, £5.40 for kids and it’s free for under 5’s. Historic Scotland members get free entry with a valid pass.
St Andrews Castle has a really interesting history (which I actually got to read about because the kids were having fun) and the kids really enjoyed exploring the castle. They especially enjoyed heading down into the mine. A great few hours out. Especially worth it if you have Historic Scotland Membership.
St Andrews Castle is located at The Scores, St Andrews, KY16 9AR.