Essential Texts on African and African Diaspora Histories: a Reading List

What follows is an inevitably incomplete list of texts that St Andrews historians view as ‘essential reading’ on African and African diaspora histories. In many ways, the list reflects our own research interests and areas of expertise as well as, of course, the notable gaps in these. As such it is intended as a ‘work in progress’ and we welcome suggestions from students and colleagues for additions to this list. As a result of the compiling of this list, we have added eleven new books on African and African diaspora histories to our library shelves. We hope that many more will follow.

Theories of Race and Racism in Historical Perspective

Kwame Anthony Appiah, ‘Is the Post—in Postmodernism the Post—in Postcolonial?’, Critical Inquiry 17.2 1991, 336–57.

Homi K. Bhabha ‘Of Mimicry and Men: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse’, October 28 1984 125–33.

James Campbell and James Oakes, “The Invention of Race: Rereading White Over Black,” Reviews in American History 21 1993, 172-83.

Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000)

Angela Davis Women, Race and Class (London, Women’s Press, 1982).

Franz Fanon (Charles Lam Markmann trans.) Black Skin, White Masks (London: Pluto, 1986 c1967)

Walter Johnson “On Agency,” Journal of Social History, Vol. 37.1, Fall 2003 113-124.

Ania Loomba, Colonialism/Postcolonialism (London & New York: Routledge, 1998)

Ania Loomba et. al (eds.) Postcolonial Studies and Beyond (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005)

Brian Meeke ed. Culture, Politics, Race and Diaspora: the thought of Stuart Hall (Kingston, Miami: Ian Randle Publishers; London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2007).

Andrew Pilkington Racial Disadvantage and Ethnic Diversity in Britain (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)

Laura Tabili “Race is a relationship, and not a Thing,” Journal of Social History, Vol. 37.1, Fall 2003, 125-130.

Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (eds.) Colonial Discourse And Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994)

African Histories

Hakim Adi Pan-Africanism and Communism: The Communist International, Africa and the Diaspora, 1919-1939 (Africa World Press, 2013)

Glen Bowersock, The Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)

François-Xavier Fauvelle, The Golden Rhinoceros: Histories of the African Middle Ages. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, forthcoming December 2018)

George Hatke, Aksum and Nubia: Warfare, Commerce and Political Fictions in Ancient Northeast Africa, (New York: New York University Press, 2013)

P. Lorcin, Imperial Identities: stereotyping, prejudice and race in colonial Algeria (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014)

Giovanni R. Ruffini, Medieval Nubia: a Social and Economic History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)

Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History

Afro-Middle Eastern Histories

Jane Hathaway, The Chief Eunuch of the Ottoman Harem: From African Slave to Power-Broker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Afro-Caribbean Histories

Laurent Dubois, A Colony of Citizens. Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean 1787-1804 (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2004)

A. Ferrer Insurgent Cuba: race, nation and revolution 1868-1898 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999)

A Ferrer Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Charles Forsdick and Christian Høgsbjerg The Black Jacobins Reader (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017)

C.L.R. James The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (London: Penguin, 2001 [1938])

Diana Paton The Cultural Politics of Obeah: Religion, Colonialism and Modernity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Diana Paton and Pamela Scully eds. Gender and Slave Emancipation in the Atlantic World (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005).

Mary Prince (Sara Salih ed.) The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave (London: Penguin Books, 2000).

Christopher Schmidt-Nowara Empire and Antislavery. Spain, Cuba and Puerto Rico, 1833-1874 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999).

R. Scott Slave Emancipation in Cuba. The Transition to Free Labour, 1860-1899 Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985).

Afro-European Histories

Andrew S. Curran, The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press 2011). (See also discussion of this book online)

T.F. Earle and K.J.P. Lowe eds. Black Africans in Renaissance Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

Steven A. Epstein ed. Speaking of Slavery: color, ethnicity, and human bondage in Italy, (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001).

Catherine Fletcher The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)

Felice Gambin ed. Alle radici dell’Europa: mori, giudei e zingari del Mediterraneo occidentale, (Florence: Seid, 2008-10).

Kate Lowe “’Representing’ Africa: Ambassadors and Princes from Christian Africa to Renaissance Italy and Portugal, 1402-1608.” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society vol 17 2007 101-128.

Kate Lowe “Visible Lives: Black Gondoliers and Other Black Africans in Renaissance Venice.” Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 66, no. 2, 2013, pp. 412–452.

Olivette Otele Afro-Europeans: A Short History (Hurst: forthcoming 2018)

Patrizia Palumbo ed. A Place in the Sun. Africa in Italian colonial culture from post-unification to the present, (Berkeley & Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2003)

Sue Peabody and Tyler Stovall (eds.), The Color of Liberty. Histories of Race in France (Durham and London: Duke University Press 2003)

Matteo Salvadore The African Prester John and the Birth of Ethiopian-European Relations, 1402-1555, (New York: Routledge, 2016)

Jonathan Spicer, ed. Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe (Baltimore: Walkers Art Museum, 2012)

Ann L. Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule, (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002)

Natalie Zemon Davis, Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds (London: Faber, 2007)

Steve Murdoch, John Brown: A Black Female Soldier in the Royal African Company

Black British Histories

Hakim Adi West Africans in Britain 1900-1960: Nationalism, Pan-Africanism and Communism (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1998)

Caroline Bressey Empire, Race and the Politics of Anti-Caste (London: Bloomsbury, 2015)

Christopher Leslie Brown Moral Capital. Foundations of British Abolitionism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006)

Vincent Carretta ed. Unchained Voices: An Anthology of Black Authors in the English-speaking World of the Eighteenth Century (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2004)

Linda Colley, The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh. A Woman in World History (London: Harper Collins, 2007)

Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself (London, 1789)

James Nott, ‘Race and the Dance Hall’ in Going to the Palais: A Social and Cultural History of Dancing and Dance Halls in Britain, 1918-1960 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), pp. 246-278.

Stuart Hall with Bill Schwartz Familiar stranger: a life between two islands (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017).

Stuart Hall, ‘New Ethnicities’, in Black Film, British Cinema, ICA Documents 7, London: Institute of Contemporary Arts (1989)

Colin Holmes, John Bull’s Island: Immigration and British Society, 1871-1971 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1988)

Miranda Kaufmann Black Tudors: The Untold Story (Oneworld: 2017)

P. Kirkham and D. Thomas (eds) War culture: social change and changing experience in World War Two Britain (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1995)

H.L. Malchow, “Frankenstein’s Monster and Images of Race in Nineteenth-Century Britain,” Past & Present, No. 139 (May, 1993), pp. 90-130.

David Olusoga, Black and British. A Forgotten History. (Pan, 2017)

Panikos Panayi, Immigration, ethnicity, and racism in Britain, 1815-1945 (Manchester & New York: Manchester University Press, 1994)

Panikos Panayi An immigration history of Britain: multicultural racism since 1800 (Harlow & New York: Pearson Longman 2010)

David Reynolds, ‘The Churchill government and Black American Troops in the Second World War’ in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Vol 35, p. 113-133.

Sonya O. Rose, Which People’s War?: National Identity and Citizenship in Wartime Britain 1939-1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2003), Ch. 3 & 7

Sonya O. Rose, ‘Race, empire and British wartime national identity, 1939-45,’ in Historical Research, no 184 (May 2001), 224.

Laura Tabili Global Migrants, Local Culture: Natives and Newcomers in Provincial England, 1841-1939 (London & Basingstoke: Palgrave 2011)

Chris Waters ‘”Dark Strangers” in Our Midst: Discourses of Race and Nation in Britain, 1947-1963’, Journal of British Studies, Vol. 36, No. 2, Twentieth-Century British Studies (Apr., 1997), pp. 207-238.

African American histories

Mia Bay The White Image in the Black Mind: African-American Attitudes towards White People, 1823-1925 (New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)

Kathleen Brown “Gender and Race in Early America,” Reviews in American History 26 (March 1998), 96-123.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me: Notes on the First 150 Years in America (New York, Spiegel & Grau, 2015)

Glenda Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920 (Chapel Hill, 1996)

Winthrop D. Jordan White Over Black: American Attitudes Towards the Negro, 1550-1812 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968)

Maghan Keita Race and the Writing of American History: Riddling the Sphinx (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)

Ethan Kytle and Blain Roberts, Denmark Vesey’s Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy (New Press, 2018)

Danielle L. McGuire and John Dittmer (eds), Freedom Rights: New Perspectives on the Civil Rights Movement (Lexington: Kentucky UP, 2011)

Lauren Sklaroff, Black Culture and the New Deal: The Quest for Civil Rights in the Roosevelt Era (Chapel Hill: North Carolina UP, 2009)

Thomas Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton, 1996)

Brian Ward, Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm and Blues, Black Consciousness and Race Relations (London: Routledge, 2004)

Jenny Woodley, Art for Equality: The NAACP’s Cultural Campaign for Civil Rights (Lexington: Kentucky UP, 2014)

Celebrating Black History Month

Blog post written by Dr Kate Ferris

black history month.jpg

Photo attrib. St Andrews University Library, CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0

As a way of marking Black History Month (October 2018), staff in the School of History have put together a reading list of ‘essential texts’ on African and African Diaspora (including Black British, African American, and Afro European) histories. Drawing at least in part on our collective teaching and research interests, most of these books and articles were already to be found in our library; many of them are texts that we use in modules we teach at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. However, some of the texts we thought ‘essential reading’ were not part of the library’s existing collection. In these cases, we have ordered copies for the library, meaning that all of the works that figure on this reading list are now, or will very soon be, available for you to read here in St Andrews.

In addition, the library has joined us in marking Black History Month by putting on a display of works in their collection highlighting black authors, artists, visionaries, leaders, directors and activists. The display is on the second floor of the library right now, so do go and see it. The library will be adding material from the Special Collections over the coming week.

Inevitably, of course, this reading list is incomplete. It reflects the collective expertise and interests of staff teaching and researching in the School but it is also reflective of the notable gaps and absences in our expertise and understanding. As such, this list is very much a ‘work in progress’ and something that we intend to continue to add to and improve. If you have suggestions for works that we have missed out, that you think constitute ‘essential reading’ in these fields, and that we really should add to the list, then please do send these to Dr Kate Ferris (kf50). In the mean time, we hope that you will delve into some – or even all – of the texts on this list, and that you find them as enlightening, fascinating, instructive and useful in your history studies as we do.

This is a small contribution to celebrating Black History Month. We will be following it up with more events in the months to come, so please watch this space for news of those!

Publication Spotlight: Early Medieval Hagiography

medhagiography.pngBlog written by Dr James Palmer

“How is your book… your novel going?” Angus inquired politely as he sipped at his coffee. “The one about the Scottish saints?” Antonia sighed. “Not very well, I’m afraid. My saints, I regret to say, are misbehaving”. Love over Scotland, Alexander McCall Smith

And indeed, for Antonia, they are. They get grumpy and might not even really like each other. Saints are, after all, people, and not always particularly pure. They also have to live in the same societies as everyone else, full of petty jealousies, alcohol, greed, and people with bad ideas. Or, Antonia fears, maybe she is projecting her ideas on them.

I wrote Early Medieval Hagiography with these issues firmly in mind. Saints, or at least writings about them, have long been seen as both reflections of the societies that produced them and efforts to shape those societies. Hagiographies can supply wonderful, rich data for studying the early Middle Ages, from Ireland to Byzantium and sometimes beyond. But they can also present minefields for those dealing with them, both because they were not written to tell us about the past in a straightforward manner, and because of the baggage of how we have tried to study them ourselves.

Initially, I was approached by Arc Humanities Press (an imprint of Amsterdam University Press) to write an introduction to these saintly biographies that was, apart from being introductory, provocative, different, and grounded in enough hard research to say things to a hardcore audience. And preferably with a global angle. In short: it was going to be a challenge. We needed a twenty-first century guide to the subject that captured the field and at least attempted to tilt it to an awkward angle. It also need to bring scholarship on different regions – actually, in the end, stretching from Ireland to Japan – into sight to help future comparative studies.


Schaffhausen, Stadtbibliothek, MS Gen. 1, f. 1 – a copy of the Life of Columba, made on Iona before 713, image attrib. e-codices, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

My plan was simple: I wanted to write a study that took the reader through the process of writing about saints, from their creation to our efforts to use saints’ Lives. It needed to start with people reading old saints’ Lives, hearing oral legends, remembering and misremembering things, and then trying to make their friends look like saints. There was no process of canonisation in the early Middle Ages, no rules about ‘how to make a saint’. Of course, some saints, like the Englishman St Boniface of Mainz (d. 754), looked like a saint in life because he had read all about them. His enemies were capable of doing so too, which was inconvenient for him and his followers, but which was good (for me) for showing how people negotiate status when there are not really any rules to follow. It also allowed plenty of scope for unusual saints: married-with-children saints, bishop-murdering saints, holy fools hanging out with prostitutes, saints who had performed no miracles whatsoever but who were a bit angsty. Every time one subverts our modern expectations about what a saint should look like, we should be jolted to consider what that says about shifting social norms, then and now.

Once somebody had written an account of their favoured saint, what they did with it was important. Hagiography did not just exist as stories: they were parts of books, of libraries, of sermons and debates, with real institutional contexts and with people engaging with them. Turning to the early manuscript evidence as I did, you can see people attempting to recontextualise saints by juxtaposing the new and the old, women and men, martyrs and confessors – all to give them new meaning. People composed calendars and martyrologies as guidebooks that linked into liturgical cycles (or often, more likely, just to help to decide what stories to read out at dinner time for entertainment). Order controls meaning.

Book Calendar.jpg

St Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, MS 566 – a calendar of saints that tells you in which book you could find the story about them, image attrib. e-codices, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Having built up a sense of how people wrote hagiographies, and then one of how people used them, the third angle was no less important: how do we use them? The modern classic on the subject, Hippolyte Delehaye’s Les légendes hagiographiques (1905), came directly out of efforts to remove dubious saints by applying rigorous source criticism (much of which boils down to entirely reasonable variations on ‘don’t trust anything too much without good reason’). The development of hagiography studies in the century that followed, unsurprisingly, very much mirrored historiographical trends more generally. Ideas from philology, gender studies, anthropology, postmodernism and comparative religious studies came into play, combined, and fell out of fashion again, leaving a varied toolkit for future analysis. But always, it seems, scholars sought ways to get lost pasts to speak to present concerns, however objective and neutral they claimed to be. There is a long history of being polemical about who is right and who is wrong about how, at the end of the day, historians ought to read hagiographies. What we need to do is to be methodologically promiscuous and find questions – not answers! – from different fields. In particular, we need to get away from the surprisingly dogged insistence that we don’t need to think about method or theory if we ‘read with care’.

The final part of Early Medieval Hagiography seeks to apply lessons from the other themes of the book, and to reassess what difference studying hagiographies has made to early medieval studies. Here, I turned to the big issues: How ‘dark’ were the Middle Ages? How important were ethnic and religious identities? Did people really not have any sense of the world beyond the horizon? And, of course, for every example that confirms our worst prejudices about the period, there is at least one saint whose story has unsettled them. In fact, more often than not, hagiography forces us to see the early Middle Ages as a much more complex time than even many working on them like to admit, and forces us to see more of society in action than just a few rich white men at the top. The challenge the book ends with, then, is how we can take these kinds of observations to build new histories that are both methodologically rigorous and which speak to our needs. Antonia could rest easy: we have been projecting our concerns onto saints for two millennia and we are not going to stop now.

St Andrews Book Conference 2018: Print and Power


Dr Alexandra Hill with her book

Blog post written by Dr Nina Lamal

Between June 21 and 23, the Universal Short Title Catalogue team hosted its annual book conference.  This year’s conference theme was Print and Power, organised by Jamie Cumby (University of St Andrews), Nina Lamal (University of Antwerp) and Helmer Helmers (University of Amsterdam) and generously supported by the History Department of the University of Antwerp. Within the scope of the conference theme , scholars from across Europe, the United States, and Canada discussed multiple ways in which civic and ecclesiastical authorities recognized the potential and power of print, and how it was used to govern and communicate with their citizens from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century.

The conference hosted sixty attendees at St Mary’s College where twenty-six papers, spread over two and half days, provided stimulating conversations and discussions. The conference began with a panel on printing for the government with case studies from Germany, the southern Low Countries and Papal Bologna. Later that day, papers discussed printing propaganda and news in papal Rome, France, the Dutch Republic, and the Holy Roman Empire. The day ended with two more papers on the role of  printed books within international relations. On Friday, panels focused on reformation in England and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as the challenging of religious authorities in Milan, Antwerp and London. Other sessions were dedicated to the power of the image within print, and how patronage enabled the tracing of careers of individual printers in Italy and Krakow. The conference ended on Saturday with a panel devoted to printing in the Dutch Republic and a session on the use of print by colonial trading companies and institutions.

20180621_174609During the evening, the conference provided further activities. On Thursday evening, Special Collections exhibited lots of wonderful material related to our participants’ papers. Among the items on display were sixteenth-century Italian ordinances printed in Bologna and Naples. A specific book of interest was an Arabic translation of Euclid’s Elements, which was printed in Rome in 1594 in the Typographia Medicea. This oriental press was a commercial venture, heavily sponsored by Cardinal Ferdinando de Medici, who aimed to sell these Arabic books in the Ottoman Empire. On Friday evening the participants enjoyed a wine and beer reception, which celebrated the launch of St Andrews’ graduate Dr Alexandra Hill’s monograph Lost Books and Printing in London, 1557-1640. An Analysis of the Stationers’ Company Register.

The proceedings of this conference will be published in Brill’s The Library of the Written Word. Next year, another conference will take place, with the theme of  Crisis or Enlightenment? Developments in the Book Trade, 1650-1750. This conference will happen between 20 and 22 June – for more information, please visit



June Round Up


medievalworldCongratulations to Professor Carole Hillenbrand for being awarded a CBE for ‘Services to the Understanding of Islamic History’ on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2018

Congratulations are also in order for Drew Thomas, who was awarded an Early Career Research Fellowship Grant from the John Rylands Research Institute at the University of Manchester

Staff Activity

On 5th June Dr Emily Michelson ran a workshop at the British School of Rome on Religious Minorities in Early Modern Rome

New Publications

Timothy Greenwood. ‘Basil I, Constantine VII and Armenian Literary Tradition in Byzantium’. In Teresa Shawcross and Ida Toth (eds.), Reading in the Byzantine Empire and Beyond (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Carole Hillenbrand and Robert Hillenbrand. ‘Ancient Iranian Kings in the World History of Rashid Al-Din’. Iran: Journal of British Institute of Persian Studies 56, no. 1 (May 2018): 34-46.

Caroline Humfress. ‘A New Legal Cosmos: Late Roman Lawyers and the Early Medieval Church’. In Peter Linehan, Janet Nelson, and Marios Costambeys (eds.), The Medieval World (Routledge Worlds, 2018).

Chandrika Kaul. ‘Gallipoli, Media and Commemorations during 2015: Select Perspectives’. Media History 24, no. 1 (2018): 115-141.

Andrew Peacock. ‘Firdawsi’s Shahnama in its Ghaznavid Context’. Iran: Journal of British Institute of Persian Studies 56, no. 1 (2018): 2-12.

Elena Marushiakova-Popova and Veselin Popov. ‘Between Two Epochs: Gypsy/Roma Movement in the Soviet Union and in the Post-Soviet Space’. In Magdalena Slavkova, Mila Maeva, Rachko Popov, and Yelis Erolova (eds.), Between the Worlds: People, Spaces and Rituals (Sofia: 2018).

April and May Round Up


Photo attrib. to Dunnock, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Staff Activity

On 24th May Justine Firnhaber-Baker gave a keynote lecture, ‘Seigneurial War and Peasant Revolts, or What’s in a Name?’ at the Medieval Culture and War Conference in Brussels

New Publications

Margaret Connolly, ‘The Representation of King Conred’s Kight in The Miroir and The Mirror’.  In Catherine Batt and Rene Tixier (eds.), Booldly bot meekly: Essays on the Theory and Practice of Translation in the Middle Ages in Honour of Roger Ellis (Turnhout: Brepols, 2018): 51-68.

Rab Houston, ‘The composition and distribution of the legal profession, and the use of law in early modern Britain and Ireland’. Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis (April 2018).


Tomasz Kamusella‘Jak chronić śląszczyznę’ (Translated: How to protect the Silesian
language?). Tygodnik Powszechny (March 2018)

Colin Kidd, ‘Global Turns: Other States, Other Civilizations’, New England Quarterly 91,
no. 1 (March 2018): 172-199.

Colin Kidd, ‘The Scottish Enlightenment and the Matter of Troy’. Journal of the British
Academy 6 (March 2018): 97-130.

Simon MacLean. ‘”Waltharius”: Treasure, Revenge and Kingship in the Ottonian Wild West’. In Kate Gilbert and Stephen White (eds.), Emotion, Violence, Vengeance and Law in the Middle Ages (Leiden: Brill, 2018): 225-251.

Jacqueline Rose. ‘Roman Imperium and the Restoration Church’. Studies in Church History 54: The Church and Empire (June 2018): 159-75.

Guy Rowlands, ‘Keep Right on to the End of the Road: the Stamina of the French Army
in the War of the Spanish Succession’. In Matthias Pohlig and Michael Schaich (eds.), The
War of the Spanish Succession: New Perspectives (Oxford: Oxford University Press and the German Historical Institute London, 2018): 323-341.

Celebrating the 700th Anniversary of the Consecration of St Andrews Cathedral


St_Andrews_Cathedral_Real_and_Virtual_Combined (1).png

Image attrib. Smart History, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Seven hundred years ago, on July 5th, 1318, St Andrews Cathedral was formally consecrated. The cathedral had been under construction for 150 years and was already home to its Augustinian community, but a great storm in 1272 had blown down the west front of the building and greatly delayed its dedication. The consecration in 1318 was thus long-awaited, and also came at a significant point in Scotland’s history: only four years after Robert the Bruce’s victory at the Battle of Bannockburn, the opulent consecration of one of the largest cathedrals in the British Isles, and the largest building in Scotland (a title it retained until the construction of Edinburgh’s Waverley Railway Station in the nineteenth century), stated clearly that the Church in Scotland was not subservient to English prelates, and advertised the strong links between Scotland’s political and religious elite. The lavish ceremony was attended by King Robert I, and was one in a continuing line of momentous religious and political events that marked out St Andrews as one of medieval Scotland’s principal burghs.




Image attrib. Smart History, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

This summer, the celebrations commemorating this important anniversary aim to recreate some of the pageantry and significance of the original event. A range of institutions, societies, and research initiatives have combined efforts to create an exciting line-up of public lectures on the history of the cathedral, historical tours of the burgh, and viewing opportunities with extant manuscripts and objects, to take place throughout June and early July. A free exhibition at the Museum of the University of St Andrews, throughout April and June, will showcase more of the extant material related to the cathedral, and tell the story of the consecration. On Saturday, 30 June, a theatrical pageant will bring to life the cathedral’s long history and its central role in the development of the burgh of St Andrews and of Scotland as a whole. In addition, digital reconstructions of the cathedral and its environs, created by Smart History and made available by Historic Environment Scotland, will be presented as an opportunity to view the cathedral as it might have looked in its glory days: a soaring, atmospheric, busy, and vital centre of religious life, pilgrimage, and lay devotion.

The event schedule includes:


The Story of St Andrews Cathedral – 700th Anniversary Historical Pageant

Saturday 30 June at 14:00 in St Andrews Cathedral.

University of St Andrews Service of Thanksgiving – Including Commemoration of the 700th Anniversary of St Andrews Cathedral

Sunday 1 July at 11:00 in St Salvator’s Chapel.

An Exceptional and Prestigious Church – A Walk Celebrating 700 Years of St Andrews Cathedral in Collaboration with Fife Pilgrim Way

Sunday 1 July at 14:00, starts outside St Andrews Museum, Kinburn Park.

Show and Tell of Manuscripts Associated with St Andrews Cathedral – Public Event by the University of St Andrews Library’s Special Collections Division

Wednesday 4 July at 14:00 in the Special Collections Napier Reading Room, Martyr’s Kirk.

Pilgrimage in Honour of Our Lady and St Andrew, Commemorating the 700th Anniversary of the Consecration of St Andrews Cathedral – Organised by New Dawn Conference

Thursday 5 July, begins at 9.30 at St James’s Church, Open Air Mass at 11.30 at St Andrews Cathedral.

Service to Commemorate the 700th Anniversary of St Andrews Cathedral – Organised by All Saints Church

Thursday 5 July at 15:00 in St Andrews Cathedral.

Act of Remembrance and Sung Eucharist – Organised by All Saints Church

Sunday 8 July, remembrance begins at 9.40 in St Andrews Cathedral, and is followed by a sung service at 10 in All Saints Church.

For more information and an updated list of events, see:


Thanks go to all the contributing groups including: University of St Andrews, Smart History, Historic Environment Scotland, Kate Kennedy Trust, Fife Pilgrim Way, New Dawn Conference, All Saints Church, BID St Andrews, and Tourism St Andrews.


Image attrib. Smart History, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0