Following an inspection by site managers, St Andrews Castle has reopened after being closed for over a year. Full access restrictions were put in place by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) in 2021 as a precaution during essential high level masonry inspections. Some minor restrictions will remain in place, but visitors can now access the historical attraction. The internal sections of the castle’s North Range and South Range Fore Tower will remain restricted due to potential hazards found during recent inspections. These areas now require monitoring and repair by HES’s operations teams.
Stephen Duncan, Director of Marketing and Engagement at HES said: “We are committed to reopening as many of our sites as possible, as we work through our programme of high-level masonry inspections, which are progressing well. Our teams intend to work through the winter months as far as possible to expedite the reopening of our much-loved heritage sites.”
“Both St Andrews and Burleigh Castles are popular landmarks, and we’re looking forward to welcoming visitors back initially to St Andrews Castle and then to both properties once Burleigh joins it, with only minor restrictions still in place.”
All other areas are now open, alongside a new Virtual Reality (VR) trial taking place at the site. This will provide visitors with access to digital content that brings alive different aspects of the castle’s history. This idea came about whilst HES was carrying out their inspections. The organisation wished to find new and different ways of telling the history of the sites. Other sites have also seen innovative technology introduced, such as 3D modelling and new audio tours, videos and trails to offer different visitor experiences.
St Andrews Castle opens alongside other reopenings organised by HES this summer, such as Burleigh Castle in Milnathort which opened as of 6 September.
In April, HES announced plans for a nationwide programme of inspections at 70 of the 300 historic properties it cares for. St Andrews Castle was among 19 heritage attractions closed by HES due to potential safety hazards. It was partially reopened in time for The Open Championship in July in order for golf fans to visit, but now is fully open for visitors.
St Andrews castle dates back to the 1200s. It was the official residence of the bishop until it suffered damage during the Wars of Independence with England. During the Reformation it was used as a fortress, and a siege led to the creation of the castle’s most notable features, the mine and countermine, both of which are unique to medieval siege warfare. It fell into ruin after it was left without a resident of purpose from 1592.
The HES website recommends booking in advance to guarantee entry. During the Winter season, the Castle is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm.
Illustration: Lauren McAndrew