The ancient university city of St Andrews, once the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland and now a golfing and tourist mecca, lies at the eastern extremity of the Fife peninsula where the North Sea coastline is characterised by sweeping sandy bays on either side of a rocky headland.
The city grew from a small religious settlement founded on the headland of Kinrimund ('Head of the King's Mount') where, around AD 345, St. Rule is said to have landed with the bones of St Andrew the patron saint of Scotland. By the mid-8th the site had become a place of pilgrimage and Scotland's leading religious centre. In the 12th Century a cathedral was built, in 1411 a University was founded and in the 15th century Pope Sixtus IV erected the see of St Andrews into an archbishopric.
First granted a royal charter c.1140 by David I, the town developed as a centre of trade, its merchant burgesses building for themselves fine houses with elegant forestairs, crow-stepped gables and pantiled roofs. In the post Reformation years of the 17th and 18th centuries prosperity declined and the castle and cathedral fell into ruin. But with the development of fishing, agriculture and tourism in the 19th century the town's harbour once more came alive with herring-boats, boats exporting coal and iron as well as grain and potatoes from the farms of Fife, and ferries linking St Andrews with ports such as Dundee and Leith.
St Andrews is internationally famous as the 'home of golf' and the frequent venue of championship events. The game has been played here at least since 1553 when the Archbishop allowed its townsfolk to play golf and other games on the links and in 1754 the Royal and Ancient Society of St Andrews Golfers was set up to organise an annual competition. There are now five 18-hole courses (Old, New, Strathtyrum, Jubilee and Eden) and one 9-hole course (Balgove) as well as many golf shops, manufacturers of golf clubs and a British Golf Museum.
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