St Andrews University traditional Pier Walk held for first time since lockdown

St Andrews students have taken part in the traditional Pier Walk, the first to take place since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

By John A. MacInnes
Monday, 6th September 2021, 1:26 pm
Students take part in the traditional Pier Walk
Students take part in the traditional Pier Walk

Students walk ong the harbour walls before the start of the new academic year.

This year’s event, held on Sunday, was the first to take place since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Pier Walk is one of the oldest traditions in St Andrews, and is the first event of the new academic year.

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The annual Pier Walk took place this year after a two-year break for Covid-19. Drone photography by Ben Markey, University of St Andrews

Every Sunday, after Chapel Service, students in their iconic red gowns walk down to the end of the pier, climb up the ladder and back along the top.

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History: The most famous tradition associated with the University is the red gown worn by undergraduate students.

The red gown was introduced post-Reformation as compulsory `school uniform’ to students as young as thirteen, as a way of preventing them from illicit drinking in public houses.

The annual Pier Walk has resumed for students at St Andrews University

Today the gowns are no longer compulsory and most students wear them only on special occasions such as the Pier Walk.

Students wear the red gown in different ways depending on which year they are in – according to the “academic strip tease”.

First years wear theirs fully on the shoulders, then in second year off the shoulders. Third years wear the gown off the left shoulder if they are arts students and the right shoulder if they are studying science.

A fourth year student will wear the gown off both shoulders, across the elbow.

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