Kirkheugh, St Mary's Church
Kirkheugh, St Mary's Church
The paltry ruins of the earliest collegiate church in Scotland stand on the cliff top behind St Andrews Cathedral. Otherwise known as the 'Church of the Blessed Mary of the Rock', or simply St Mary on the Rocks, St Mary's was built in the 12th century on the site of a 9th century Culdee Church.
Sometime before 1290 St Mary became a royal chapel and a collegiate church (run by a non-monastic college of canons). In the late 13th century the earlier building was extended to add a choir and transepts at an angle to the line of the 12th century nave. The church was destroyed in 1559 when the Reformation made collegiate churches untenable, and today only the foundations are visible.

The church was lost completely after the Reformation, and the foundations were only unearthed during construction of a coastal gun battery in 1860.

Carved stones from the site can be seen in the cathedral museum, and there is an information board beside the foundations that explains more about the site.

NB. Though the site is easy to access at any time, the best view of the church is from atop St Rule's Tower (access during cathedral visitor centre opening times). You can look down on the church and get a great overview of the layout.