Archives » St Andrews

St Andrews Memorial Hall

I came across this Memorial Hall in St Andrews a couple of years ago. I don’t go along that street (St Mary’s Place) much so hadn’t really noticed it before.

The central window block has a wooden frame and panelling with the dedication:-

“1914-1918 Victory 1939-1945
Memorial Hall”

Upper part, St Andrews Memorial Hall

Here’s a photo from further back showing its street aspect and the rather elegant gates. The coloured sign says, “Fife Council Community Services. Victory Memorial Hall St Andrews.”

St Andrews Memorial Hall

Fife Pilgrim Way

A project to resurrect the mediæval Fife Pilgrim Way is now well in hand.

There were two main routes across the county (or kingdom as the locals still refer to it at times,) starting at Culross and North Queensferry and ending up at St Andrews.

The ancient route went through the nearest small town to Son of the Rock Acres, Markinch, the ancient capital of Fife.

There are some hopes the restored route(s) will bring modern day pilgrims (and other tourists) to the town.

A year or so ago there was an information day about the Pilgrim Way at St Drostan’s church. On display were several representations of monastic and pilgrim life, rendered in knitwear.

Trees and pilgrims:-

Knitted Trees and Pilgrims


Knitted Church


Knitted  Monks

Monks’ garden:-

Knitted Garden

Monastery vegetable patch:-

Knitted Vegetable Patch

A Heron, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

I captured this heron on the bank of the Kinness Burn at St Andrews harbour:-

A Heron, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

The Distant Echo by Val McDermid

Harper, 2010, 569 p. First published in 2003.

 The Distant Echo cover

I probably wouldn’t have read this – I wasn’t particularly taken by the author’s The Wire in the Blood – but the good lady had just finished it and mentioned it was set partly in my old stamping ground of Kirkcaldy and partly in St Andrews (which I know well.) So I thought I’d give it a go. The locations in the book aren’t restricted to Fife, it does stray to Edinburgh, Stirling, Glasgow, and even Seattle but the main events take place in what the locals like to call “the Kingdom.”

The prologue lets us know of a Fife Police press announcement of a cold case review and a shadowy figure haunting a cemetery before Part One plunges us into the 1978 discovery of the dying body of Rosie Duff by four students at St Andrews University (schoolfriends calling themselves the Lads Fi’ Kirkcaldy) taking a short cut back to their flat after a party. One of them is a medical student and tries to save her life but fails. As discoverers of the body and covered in blood they naturally become suspects. The investigation cannot summon up evidence even to charge them and the case is unresolved but they are still subjected to suspicion, threats and violence – especially by the dead girl’s brothers. McDermid makes a lot of this finger of suspicion and the effect it has on the four and their relationship(s). Part Two sees the resurrection of the case and its reintrusion into the four’s lives. But in the intervening twenty-five years the main evidence from the victim’s clothing has been lost and there seems little hope of progress. But the review has stirred the old suspicions and someone has the four firmly in the frame.

McDermid’s prose is certainly efficient but rarely rises above the workmanlike. The book’s structure, too, made it slightly odd. Part One was more or less scene setting, involved a lot of information dumping and therefore dragged somewhat. McDermid makes passing reference to the fascistic fringe and government encroachments on citizens’ rights in the late 1970s. (That sort of thing has become even worse of late with intolerance having been adopted into the political mainstream and governments eager to seize any excuse to restrict citizens’ rights.)

I would have said that it was cleverly executed except that the resolution was disappointing. It has more holes in it than Stoke City’s defence and depends too much on the prior withholding of information from the reader. In the last (tie-up) chapter it is revealed that one of the four Lads had a piece of information that would potentially have pointed to the murderer but never told the other three – nor the Police – during all those twenty-five years of suspicion. We can only suppose this was to create an artificial sense of suspense and it kind of obviates the point of the book (no matter what reason he might have had for his reticence.) Moreover the murderer seems to have been able to carry the body up a hill to where the Lads stumbled upon it without seemingly getting any blood on himself, even though the victim had a gaping wound.

McDermid has a wide readership. I assume they don’t like taxing their brains overmuch.

Pedant’s corner:- the main drag (St Andrews has a main drag?) Roger Waters’ (Waters’s. And I know he wrote Shine On You Crazy Diamond but did he sing on it? Wasn’t that David Gilmour?) “[Kirkcaldy’s] Town House looked like one of those less alluring products of Soviet architecture” (is more than a bit harsh. It’s a fine buiding.) Raith Rovers’ (Raith Rovers’s,) Brahms’ (Brahms’s,) “had strode” (stridden,) “‘Gonnae no dae that’” (is referred to as if it were a catchphrase from the early to mid 1970s. It wasn’t. Chewin’ the Fat, where it originated, was first aired in 1999.) “‘We lay low’” (we lie low – but it was in dialogue and the character had lived in the US for years and they can’t seem to get the lay/lie thing correct over there,) Soanes’ (Soanes’s.) “The sky was clear, a gibbous moon hanging low in the sky between the bridges.” (sky….sky,.) Sainsburys (Sainsbury’s.) Plus several instances of “time interval later”.

Art Deco Snippets

I keep noticing Art Deco styling I’ve previously missed in places I visit relatively often.

Shop frontage, Dunbar:-

Art Deco Styling, Dunbar

Building ventilator grille, St Andrews:-

Art Deco Ventilator for Building, St Andrews

Commonwealth War Graves, St Andrews

I noticed the sign for Commonwealth War Graves as we were passing St Andrews Cemetery on Strathkiness Road and stopped to take photos on the way back home. Commonwealth War Grave stones are easily picked out by their distinctive shape and colour, though some of these were in grey granite rather than the usual off-white. I also found the grave of a member of the Polish Forces.

There were twelve graves in all.

Gunner A M Pirie, RA, 6/8/1942.
Bombardier D B Tulleth, RA, 12/11/1944, age 36.
Private F Dickinson, KOYLI, 15/8/1940, age 24.
Private J McIvor, Black Watch, 19/7/1915.
H C Barr, Merchant Navy, 7/2/1946, age 41.
Driver J Thomson, RE, 10/6/1946, age 19.
Guardsman W Murray, Scots Guards, 23/7/1945, age 29.
PIT S Glabinski, Polish Forces, 13/2/1941, age 34.
Sergeant W H Stewart, RAF, 11/7/1944, age 43.
Private F Higgins, HLI, 19/5/1918.
Private T Robinson, Cameronians, 26/7/1918.
Able Seaman F Shearer, RN, 25/12/1918.

Commonwealth War Grave St Andrew's 1
Commonwealth War Grave St Andrew's 2
Commonwealth War Grave St Andrew's 3
Commonwealth War Grave St Andrew's 4
Commonwealth War Grave St Andrew's 5
Commonwealth War Grave St Andrew's 6
Commonwealth War Grave St Andrew's 7
Polish War Grave St Andrew's
Commonwealth War Grave St Andrew's 8
Commonwealth War Grave St Andrew's 9
Commonwealth War Grave St Andrew's 10
Commonwealth War Grave St Andrew's 11

When Did You Say Again?

Seen on a shop in St Andrews, Fife.

When Did You Say?

Apparently St Andrews will still be there in 198,000 years.
Or else the shop has travelled back in time.

Gregory’s Meridian, St Andrews

I was in St Andrews at the back end of September and spotted this on the pavement in south South Street. I don’t think I’d noticed it before. Is it relatively new?

It is Gregory’s Meridian line.

A plaque on the wall gives more information.

James Gregory looks to have been one of the 17th century’s greatest scientists. A meridian, Calculus, the diffraction grating and a type of telescope?

Largo War Memorial

Largo War Memorial

The memorial is set by the A915 on the road from Leven up the Fife coast to Crail (or across Fife to St Andrews) just out of Lower Largo before the road turns up to Upper Largo. The memorial obelisk is inscribed with the words, “To the Glorious Memory of the Men of Largo Parish who fell in the Great War,” and also bears the names of the First World War dead. The plaques on the wall behind give the names for the Second World War.

Below is a wider view showing more of the wall, which bears the dates 1939 and 1945, one at each end.

Largo War Memorial

Grounds for Complaint

I was in St Andrews last week and spotted this notice in a cafe’s window.

Coffee Grounds to Sit in

Sit in coffee?

I’d rather not.

free hit counter script