16th century Fife church virtually reconstructed

How the church would have appeared before 1559.
How the church would have appeared before 1559.

A St Andrews church, which played a central role in the Scottish Reformation, has been virtually reconstructed as it may have appeared more than five centuries ago.

Holy Trinity Church in St Andrews was regarded as one of Scotland’s most important parish churches in the Middle Ages and was where the famous Protestant leader John Knox first preached in public during the siege of St Andrews Castle in 1547.

It was also where in 1559 Knox delivered his famous sermon urging the town to reject Catholicism, resulting in attacks on St Andrews Cathedral, and the change of faith of St Andrews, which was then Scotland’s religious capital.

Now academics at the University of St Andrews have combined historical research with computer technology to create a virtual reconstruction of how the original church looked just before the Reformation of 1559.

A virtual reality version of the reconstruction can be experienced as part of the Divine and Human exhibition at Holy Trinity Church in St Andrews, which launched yesterday (Thursday).

Although the origins of Holy Trinity go back to at least the 12th century, it was built on its current location on South Street in 1410, and over succeeding centuries has been repeatedly redesigned.

The majority of the building was demolished in 1907 to be replaced by the current Gothic structure. With the exception of the medieval tower, little remains to remind people of its original medieval design.

Dr Bess Rhodes of the Schools of History and Computer Science, worked with doctoral students from the School of History, Peryn Westerhof Nyman and Chelsea Reutcke, using historic documents and images to reveal the church’s 16th century appearance.

The reconstruction was then created by Sarah Kennedy of the School of Computer Science, with support from members of the Open Virtual Worlds team.

Divine and Human: An Exhibition on the History of Religion in St Andrews is free and runs in Holy Trinity Church until the end of October.

A preview of the reconstruction can be viewed online at: www.vimeo.com/348177059.