FP100: No. 97

Martyrs' cobbles
Martyrs' cobbles
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Martyrs’ cobbles

Situated around the town of St Andrews are cobblestone markings denoting where Protestant martyrs were burnt at the stake.

They come with some remarkable traditions, in particular, those commemorating Patrick Hamilton, the first of the martyrs, burned at the stake in 1528 after being found guilty of 13 charges of heresy.

His initials are set into the cobbles out side the main gate of the University of St Andrews’ St Salvator’s College - the site of his execution.

According to student tradition, stepping on the cobbles marking out the initials PH will cause a student to become cursed, causing the offender to fail their degree. The result is that students are known to jump over the cobblestones when passing.

The curse can be lifted by taking part in the May Dip - when students plunge the sea at dawn on the first of May to try to bring themselves good luck in their exams - or by trying the older tradition of walking three times round the post at the end of the pier.

The spot where another martyr, George Wishart, who was also burned at the stake on March 1, 1546 is marked with his initials set in cobblestones outside St Andrews Castle.