Monument restoration enters final stages

Martyrs' Monument
Martyrs' Monument

A £145,000 restoration project of the historic Martyrs’ Monument on St Andrews’ seafront is almost finished and its completion will be marked by a public ceremony in May.

The fundraising campaign for the conservation work on the 32-foot high structure, a striking feature of the town’s landscape, was co-ordinated by the St Andrews Partnership, in tandem with the community council, St Andrews Preservation Trust and Fife Council.

The scaffolding shrouding it since last autumn was removed recently and was followed by groundworks to upgrade and re-instate the area immediately around its base. Two interpretation panels have been installed, replacing those from the 1990s which had become worn and outdated.

Ray Pead, who chairs the Martyrs’ Monument working group, said:“Since the outset of this project, we have been contemplating how best to mark its completion. We are pleased to announce that a public occasion – open to everyone – will be held on May 22, at the Bow Butts, overlooked by the monument itself.

”We aim to stage a re-inauguration ceremony, which will be part celebration and part commemoration. We want to celebrate the spirit of partnership in St Andrews which has made this ambitious restoration project possible, whilst simultaneously commemorating a much less happy period in the town’s history – now almost 500 years ago – when religious schisms caused much bloodshed and disharmony.

”Our theme will be one of reconciliation, with the ceremony involving churches of different denominations as well as civic leaders.”

Dr Richard Holloway, the renowned Scottish broadcaster, historian and commentator on modern spiritual life, will take part, and music and colour will be added to the occasion by the City of St Andrews Pipe Band.

Despite its historic importance and high profile, the condition of the 170-year-old landmark had deteriorated rapidly in recent years and erosion caused by the weather, environmental pollution and salt-laden moisture from the sea ravaged the locally-quarried sandstone used to construct it. It was previously cordoned off to the public amid concerns they could be struck by pieces of crumbling masonry.

The remedial works were designed to help prevent further damage to the monument and restore some of its most attractive and interesting features, including inscriptions and ornamental stone carvings.

The memorial was built in 1842-3 to commemorate four leading Protestant figures who were martyred in St Andrews between 1520 and 1560, and highlights the important role the town played in the Reformation.