Archdiocese of St Andrews

Archdiocese of St Andrews
Diocese of St Andrews
Diocese of St Andrews.jpg
Head   Bishop of St Andrews
Archdeacon(s)   St Andrews, Lothian
First attestation   Early Middle Ages
Metropolitan before 1472   None
Metropolitan after 1492   None
Cathedral   St Andrews Cathedral
Dedication   Andrew
Native dedication   Riagal (Regulus)
Mensal churches   Cranston, Edzell, Fettercairn, Forteviot, Inchbrayock, Inchture, Kilmany, Kinnell, Kirkliston, Lasswade, Monimail, Nenthorn, Scoonie, Stow of Wedale, Tannadice, Tyninghame
Common churches   [Priory] Abercrombie, Auldcathy, Binning, Bourtie, Conveth, Cupar, Dairsie, Dull, Ecclesgreig, Fordoun, Forgan, Foss, Fowlis-Easter, Grantully, Haddington, Inchture, Kennoway, Kilgour, Kinnedar, Lathrisk, Leuchars, Linlithgow, Longforgan, Markinch, Meigle, Migvie, Muckersie, Portmoak, Rossie, St Andrews Holy Trinity, St Andrews St Leonard's, Scoonie, Strathmiglo, Tannadice, Tarland, Tealing, Tyninghame
Prebendal churches   Currie (archdeacon of Lothian),
Kinneff (Archdeacon of St Andrews),
Rescobie (archdeacon of St Andrews),
Tarvit (archdeacon of St Andrews)
Catholic successor   Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh
Episcopal successor   Diocese of Saint Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane

The Diocese or Archdiocese of St Andrews was a territorial episcopal jurisdiction in early modern and medieval Scotland. It was the largest, most populous and wealthiest diocese of the medieval Scottish church, with territory in eastern Scotland stretching from Berwickshire and the Anglo-Scottish border to Aberdeenshire.

Although not an archdiocese until 1472, St Andrews was recognised as the chief see of the Scottish church from at least the 11th century. It came to be one of two archdioceses of the Scottish church, from the early 16th century having the bishoprics of Aberdeen, Brechin, Caithness, Dunblane, Dunkeld, Moray, Orkney and Ross as suffragans.



One Pictish king-list credits Óengus II, King of the Picts (died 834), as the founder of the monastery-church at St Andrews, but an obituary of a St Andrews' abbot is recorded in the Annals of Ulster for the year 747, around seven decades before this king ruled.[1] The obituary of Túathalán, the abbot in question, constitutes the earliest literary evidence for St Andrews. It is possible that the church was founded during the reign of Óengus I, who had been ruling during this time.[2]

Historian Jame Fraser points out that in England both Canterbury and York were dedicated to St Peter, with their junior bishoprics dedicated to St Andrew, that is, the churches of Hexham and Rochester.[1] It is possible thus that St Andrews was established as a bishopric from the outset, junior to to the bishopric of Rosemarkie, which appears originally to have been dedicated to St Peter.[3] It is also possible that the emergence of the cult of St Andrew in the 8th century was connected with the appearance of "Constantine" as a royal name in the era, St Andrew being the patron of Constantinople.[4]

Bishops of the Scots

Modern ruins of St Andrews Cathedral, the seat of the diocese

The diocese's head, the Bishop of St Andrews, came to be regarded as the chief cleric of the kingdom of Scotland, ahead of the Bishop of Glasgow (2nd), the Bishop of Dunkeld (3rd) and the Bishop of Aberdeen (4th).[5] The Augustinian account of the foundation of St Andrews, written between 1140 and 1153,[6] notes and comments on a book-cover (cumdach) and the titles of the bishops:

...[F]rom ancient times they have been called bishops of St Andrew, and in both ancient and modern writings they are found called "High Archbishops" or "High Bishops of the Scots". Which is why Fothad, a man of the greatest authority, caused to be written on the cover of a gospel book these lines:
'Fothad, who is High Bishop of the Scots, made this cover for an ancestral gospel-book'.
So now in the ordinary and common speech they are called Escop Alban, that is, "Bishops of Alba". [7]

After the archbishopric of York received its first French archbishop, York was claiming the Scottish bishoprics beyond the River Forth to be its suffragans as part of the hierarchy of the Latin Church.[8] Because Scotland, north of the Forth, had never been in the Roman Empire or part of Anglo-Saxon England, it was difficult for the church of York to produce any evidence of its claim, but it was established that Britannia had two archbishops in the Latin hierarchy. The time of Giric (fl. 1100), styled as Archbishop in Scottish sources, St Andrews is claimed to be an "apostolic see" and the "second Rome".[9]

Eadmer, an Englishman from Canterbury was appointed to St Andrews by Alexander I in 1120, but was force to resign the see soon after because Alexander I would not agree to make the bishopric part of the English church under Canterbury.[10] Although possessing native Scottish bishops until the end of the 11th-century, with Fothad II or Cathróe being the last, the diocese was to have no Scottish-born bishops until the accession David de Bernham in 1239.[11] Despite this, the Scottish see withstood York and Canterbury pressure, delivered through the Pope and the English king. Requests were made to the papacy for an archbishopric at St Andrews, and although these failed, the Scottish bishoprics were recognised as independent in 1192.[12] It was not though until 1472 that St Andrews became a papally-recognized archbishopric.[13]

Extent and possessions

Papal assessors in the late 13th century put the diocese's income at just over 8000 pounds, twice that recorded for the diocese of Glasgow.[14] The diocese was the largest in the medieval Kingdom of Scotland territorially, stretching from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Nigg on the river Dee near Aberdeen.[15] Like many other Scottish dioceses, its territory was fragmented in parts. Detached parishes of the bishoprics of Aberdeen, Dunblane and Dunkeld cut up the diocese, while the diocese of Brechin lay entirely within its boundaries.[15]

The bishops possessed a castle in St Andrews, and manors through their diocese fortified during the episcopate of William de Lamberton: Inchmurdo, Dairsie, Monimail, Torry, Kettins and Monymusk, all north of the Forth, and Stow of Wedale, Lasswade, and Liston in Lothian.[16] There was also an important episcopal manor at Tyninghame near Dunbar.[17]

When it became an archdiocese in 1472, the other 12 Scottish sees became its suffragans.[13] In 1392, however, the diocese of Glasgow became an archbishopric too, taking Dunkeld, Dunblane, Argyll, and Galloway (as well as Glasgow) away from St Andrews.[13] Within a few decades Dunkeld and Dunblane were back under St Andrews, though the bishopric of the Isles was transferred to Glasgow later.[13]


By 1300 232 parish churchs are known for the diocese.[14] It was divided into two territorial archdeaconries, both divided into provincial deaneries:

Archdeaconry of St Andrews

Deanery of Angus

  1. Aberlemno
  2. Airlie
  3. Aldbar
  4. Arbirlot
  5. Arbroath and Ethie
  6. Barry
  7. Dalbog
  8. Dun
  9. Dunlappie
  10. Dunninald
  11. Edzell
  12. Eassie
  13. Glamis
  14. Idvies (now Kirkden)
  15. Inchbraoch (now Craig)
  16. Inverarity
  17. Invergowrie
  18. Inverkeilor
  19. Inverlunan
  20. Kettins
  21. Kinnell
  22. Kinnettles
  23. Kirriemuir
  24. Liff
  25. Lintrathen
  26. Logie
  27. Logie Dundee (now Lochee)
  28. Lundie
  29. Martin (now Strathmartine)
  30. Meathie Lour
  31. Monifieth
  32. Murroes
  33. Nevay
  34. Newtyle
  35. Rescobie
  36. Restenneth and Forfar
  37. Tannadice
  38. Strathdighty
  39. Strathdighty Comitis (now Mains)

Deanery of Fife

  1. Abercrombie (now St Monance)
  2. Anstruther
  3. Auchtermoonzie (now Moonzie)
  4. Ceres
  5. Crail
  6. Collessie
  7. Creich
  8. Cupar
  9. Dairsie
  10. Dunbog
  11. Dunino
  12. Flisk
  13. Forgan
  14. Kellie (now Carnbee)
  15. Kemback
  16. Kennoway
  17. Kilconquhar
  18. Kilmany
  19. Kilrenny
  20. Largo
  21. Leuchars
  22. Lindores (or Abdie)
  23. Logie Murdoch
  24. Monimail
  25. Newburn
  26. St Andrews
  27. Scoonie
  28. Tarvit

Deanery of Fothriff

  1. Arngask
  2. Auchterderran
  3. Auchtermuchty
  4. Carnock
  5. Clackmannan
  6. Cleish
  7. Cults
  8. Dunfermline
  9. Dysart
  10. Forthar (now Kirkforthar)
  11. Inverkeithing
  12. Kilgour
  13. Kinglassie
  14. Kinross
  15. Kirkcaldy
  16. Lathrisk
  17. Magna Kinghorn
  18. Markinch
  19. Methil
  20. Muckhart
  21. Parva Kinghorn
  22. Portmoak
  23. Torry (now Torryburn)
  24. Wemyss

Deanery of Gowrie

  1. Benvie
  2. Blair (now Blairgowrie)
  3. Cambusmichael
  4. Collace
  5. Errol
  6. Forgan (now Longforgan)
  7. Forteviot
  8. Fowlis
  9. Inchture
  10. Kilspindie
  11. Kinfauns
  12. Kinnoull
  13. Luncarty
  14. Methven
  15. Perth
  16. Pottie (now Dunbarney)
  17. Rait
  18. Rhynd
  19. Rossinclerach (now Rossie)
  20. Scone

Deanery of Mearns

  1. Aberluthnot (now Marykirk)
  2. Arbuthnott
  3. Benholm
  4. Conveth (now Laurencekirk)
  5. Dunnottar
  6. Durris
  7. Ecclesgreig (now St Cyrus)
  8. Fettercairn
  9. Fetteresso
  10. Fordoun
  11. Garvock
  12. Kinneff
  13. Newdosk
  14. Nigg

Archdeaconry of Lothian

Deanery of Haddington

  1. Athelstaneford
  2. Auldhame
  3. Bara
  4. Bolton
  5. Bothans (now Yester)
  6. Carrington
  7. Clerkington (now Temple)
  8. Cockpen
  9. Cranston
  10. Crichton
  11. Dunbar
  12. Fala
  13. Garvald
  14. Gullane
  15. Haddington
  16. Hamer (now Whitekirk)
  17. Heriot
  18. Innerwick
  19. Keith Humbie (now Humbie)
  20. Keith Marischal
  21. Linton (now Prestonkirk)
  22. Loquhariot (now Borthwick)
  23. Masterton (now Newbattle)
  24. Morham
  25. Mount Lothian
  26. Musselburgh
  27. North Berwick
  28. Oldhamstocks
  29. Ormiston
  30. Pencaitland
  31. Saltoun
  32. Seton
  33. Soutra
  34. Tranent
  35. Tyninghame

Deanery of Linlithgow

  1. Airth
  2. Auldcathie
  3. Bathgate
  4. Binny
  5. Bothkenner
  6. Calder Comitis (now West Calder)
  7. Calder Clere (now East Calder)
  8. Carriden
  9. Dalmeny
  10. Dunipace
  11. Duddingston
  12. Ecclesmachan
  13. Falkirk
  14. Gogar
  15. Hailes (now Colinton)
  16. Kinleith (now Currie)
  17. Kinneil
  18. Kirkton
  19. Larbert
  20. Lasswade
  21. Linlithgow
  22. Listen (now Kirkliston)
  23. Livingston
  24. Melville
  25. Newton (now Kirknewton)
  26. Penicuik
  27. Pentland
  28. Ratho
  29. Restalrig
  30. St Cuthbert-under-the Castle
  31. St Giles of Edinburgh
  32. St Mary in the Fields
  33. Slamannan
  34. Stirling
  35. Strathbrock (now Uphall)
  36. Woolmet (now Newton)

Deanery of Merse

  1. Berwick
  2. Channelkirk
  3. Chirnside
  4. Coldingham
  5. Cranshaws
  6. Duns
  7. Earlston
  8. Eccles
  9. Ednam
  10. Edrom
  11. Ellem (now Ellemford)
  12. Fishwick
  13. Fogo
  14. Foulden
  15. Gordon
  16. Greenlaw
  17. Hallyburton
  18. Hilton
  19. Horndeam
  20. Hume
  21. Hutton
  22. Lamberton
  23. Langton
  24. Legerwood
  25. Lennel (now Coldstream)
  26. Louder
  27. Makerstoun
  28. Mertoun
  29. Mordington
  30. Nenthorn
  31. Old Cambus
  32. Polwarth
  33. St Bathans (now Abbey St Bathans)
  34. Simprim
  35. Smailholm
  36. Swinton
  37. Stichill
  38. Upsettlington (now Ladykirk)
  39. Wedale (now Stow)
  40. Whitsome

Office holders

Bishops and archbishops

Cathedral priors



  1. ^ a b Fraser, Caledonia to Pictland, p. 361
  2. ^ Fraser, Caledonia to Pictland, pp. 361–62
  3. ^ Fraser, Caledonia to Pictland, pp. 361–62
  4. ^ Fraser, Caledonia to Pictland, p. 362
  5. ^ Barrow, "Medieval Diocese", p. 1
  6. ^ Taylor, Place-Names, vol. iii, p. 565
  7. ^ Taylor, Place-Names, vol. iii, pp. 610–11
  8. ^ Broun, Scottish Independence, pp. 105–15
  9. ^ Broun, Scottish Independence, p. 115
  10. ^ Broun, Scottish Independence, p. 105
  11. ^ Barrow, "Medieval Diocese", p. 4
  12. ^ Broun, Scottish Independence, p. 112
  13. ^ a b c d Watt and Murray, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 376
  14. ^ a b Barrow, "Medieval Diocese", p. 1
  15. ^ a b Watt, Ecclesia Scoticana, p. 76
  16. ^ Barrow, "Medieval Diocese", pp. 3–4
  17. ^ Barrow, "Medieval Diocese", p. 2


  • Barrow, G. W. S. (1994), "The Medieval Diocese of St Andrews", in Higgitt, John, Medieval Art and Architecture in the Diocese of St Andrews, Conference transactions / British Archaeological Association; 14, 1986, British Archaeological Association, pp. 1–6, ISBN 0901286435 
  • Fraser, James E. (2009), From Caledonia to Pictland: Scotland to 795, The New Edinburgh History of Scotland, 1, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 0-7486-1232-1 
  • Taylor, Simon (2009), The Place-Names of Fife, Volume Three: St Andrews and the East Neuk, The Place-Names of Fife (5 vols.), Donington: Shaun Tyas, ISBN 1-900289-970 
  • Watt, D. E. R. (1991), Ecclesia Scoticana, Series episcoporum ecclesiae Catholicae occidentalis ab initio usque ad annum mcxcviii ... Series 6, Britannia, Scotia et Hibernia, Scandinavia. Tom. 1 (ediderunt Odilo Engels et Stefan Weinfurter ; cooperante H. Kluger ... B.E. Crawford), Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann, ISBN 3-7772-9116-1 
  • Watt, D. E. R.; Murray, A. L., eds. (2003), Fasti Ecclesiae Scotinanae Medii Aevi ad annum 1638, The Scottish Record Society, New Series, Volume 25 (Revised ed.), Edinburgh: The Scottish Record Society, ISBN 0-902054-19-8, ISSN 0143-9448 

Dioceses of Medieval Scotland
Aberdeen | Argyll | Brechin | Caithness | Dunblane | Dunkeld | Galloway | Glasgow | Isles (Sodor) | Moray | Orkney | Ross | St Andrews

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