Today we kicked into high gear again with an all-day tourist trip to St. Andrews. Half of the girls -- there are ten of us living together -- still recovering from jet lag, the whole gang boarded a train at Waverly Station and rolled through the beautiful Scottish countryside, crossing the Firth of Forth to Fife arriving by mid-morning in the small but beautiful medieval town.
St. Andrews has a somewhat eclectic claim to fame. First, it's the birthplace of golf. We didn't spend a whole lot of time on that area of the town, as none of the group are golfers, but we did pause for a moment to look out at the 18th hole.
Before long, we arrived at the St. Andrew Castle. Before exploring the ruins, we visited the corresponding museum. We walked through winding hallways lined with beautiful paintings and writings on the history of the town and the castle, but I hardly had a chance or a need to look at any of them, as Bill's value as a guide became apparent. Well learned in medieval history, he was an invaluable treasure trove of information about St. Andrews Castle and beyond.
As Bill explained and as can likely be guessed from the town's name, St. Andrews is significant in large part because of its role as a religious epicenter. Without its towering cathedral and important location as a place of religious worship and pilgrimage, it would just be another lovely but sleepy seaside town. In the medieval times, and still today in many countries, the separation of church and state is an unheard of concept; the two were irreversibly intertwined. Therefore, bishops of the church played roles in local government and were quite powerful, and they lived in castles to protect them from their enemies.
Unfortunately, little remains of the castle today. The outer circle can clearly be seen in the form of rocky walls and foundations, but the majority if it is long since gone. Still, it makes for fascinating exploration, particularly when one takes a moment to envision what it was like in its heyday.