Have Yourself a Merry (Lobster!) Christmas!

Tis the season to be jolly, and what better way to become jolly than by visiting the university museums or treating your nearest and dearest to a lovely unique Christmas gift?

When the Wardlaw Museum opens it will feature Philip Colbert’s The Death of Marat & the Birth of the Lobster, with corresponding memorabilia available at the museum gift shop.

It’s perfect for pranksters – lobsters are relatives of the coconut crab, a crab that lives on islands in the Indo-Pacific region, including Christmas Island. They are the largest terrestrial crabs that still exist, but if that wasn’t terrifying enough already, their alternative name is the robber crab, as they have a habit of stealing objects, due to their inquisitive natures. For staff and students at the University there’s still time left this semester to visit the Bell Pettigrew Museum before Christmas so you can book a visit come and see some of the amazing examples of crustaceans we have in our Natural History collections.

Crustaceans galore to be found in the exhibition at the Bell Pettigrew Museum, image courtesy of the University of St Andrews

In addition, the University’s Special Collections boasts a modest collection of Christmas cards ranging from 1879 to 1994, offering tiny glimpses into the lives of people long since gone. One such card is a simple family photo from 1898, to Andrew Bennett, the university Secretary of the Court from 1871-1958.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ms37069-50-1024x873.jpg
Group portrait, likely a family, sent by ‘Mary and Finn’ to Andrew Bennett as a Christmas card. Photograph taken by J.W.W. in 1898.Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums, ID: ms37069/50

Another card is hand-drawn by Frances Walker, and was sent almost a century later to thank a client for buying one of her artworks. Though they are just rectangles of paper, they remind us that Christmas has always been a season for deepening connections with others.

Christmas Card by Frances Walker (HC2014.6), image courtesy of University of St Andrews

These “others” aren’t just restricted to friends and family. Special Collections also has a series of photographs of a 1947 Christmas party for prisoners of war in East Fife. During WW2, captured German and Italian soldiers were interned in camps in Britain and put to work in fields such as the agricultural industry, to make up for some of the manpower that was lost when British men went to fight. They remained in Britain after the war ended, either to help rebuild as part of the war reparations, or because they liked the area and wished to stay. Some of the prisoners lived in East Fife, and the Christmas party was held to distract them from homesickness.

POW Christmas Party, St Andrews, Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums, ID: GMC-4-5-3
© The University of St Andrews

Parties might be irresponsible this year, but the Christmas spirit lives on! Come visit the museums, search the University of St Andrews fabulous and fascinating collections and order gifts online for your loved ones today!

Written by Patsy Ng, volunteer blogger at St Andrews University Museums

Meeting the Makers at the Wardlaw Museum Shop

We at the Museums of the University of St Andrews are excited to announce our new online retail offer in collaboration with the University of St Andrews Shop.

A taste of the Museum to come is available through a carefully curated range of items based on our collections and exhibitions. Working with local independent artists as well as our favourite contemporary pop master Philip Colbert, there’s an eclectic range of gifts and goodies.

If you’re still looking for Christmas gifts, looking at something unique, or just want to have a look at what the shop has, using our shop is a great support to the museum and the work that we do.

Supporting local business and artists is important to us as a museum shop, supporting the local economy and procuring products in an ethical and sustainable way are part of what we as part of the University strive for. So let’s meet some of the makers themselves!

Quirky and fun St Andrews street map design by SarahHallidayArt™ ©SarahHallidayArt

Sarah Halliday

Currently based in Perth, Sarah has been mentored by international artist Christopher Fiddes.

Sarah is a trained fine artist in oil who believes in bringing fine art to audiences on beautiful, yet useful, products. Frustrated by the inability to print her work without colour shifts, she started experimenting with Adobe Illustrator, which has allowed her to be able to print on textiles and other materials. Digital Art has enabled her to put her artwork on fabric and stationery much easier and she has been steadily expanding her range of products beyond her fine art.

Both Sarah and her producers are all based in the U.K. Sarah describes her work as, ‘Classic skills with a modern approach’.

From Sarah’s work, the shop has a range of products with an illustration of aerial perspective of the town of St Andrews inspired by the eary map of St Andrews by James Geddy.

Greetings card with print of West Sands by Mark Holden Art™ ©Mark Holden Art

Mark Holden

Mark has been a Scottish based professional Artist since 2002 when he started his career in St Andrews.

He has exhibited in Galleries in Scotland, UK and undertaken commission work in Arnhem Hospital in Holland, and for a variety of clients in Europe. He was commissioned to

paint the feature painting for the entrance of the Castle Course Club house in St Andrews.

Mark works with Oils, Acrylics and Watercolours. Subjects range from Scottish west coast landscapes, St. Andrews, Venice, Classic Cars, and Skiing. Commissions are always welcomed, and Mark likes to provide clients with paintings that enhance new build projects.

From Mark’s work, the shop has a variety of different prints of different locations around St Andrews.

Chloe Gardner

Butterfly print tea towel by Chloe Gardner™ ©Chloe Gardner

Chloe comes from a family of artists, and has such a love of vibrant colour, she describes ‘colour’ as her hobby. Her philosophy is that bright colours are uplifting and inspiring.

More recently, her inspirations have come from her surroundings from the Brazilian beach she used to live besides, to the Scottish cottage in Edinburgh where she now lived. Her new home is surrounded with the local nature, from the Snowdrops in February, a family of hedgehogs who live in her back garden and the beach right beside her house. During her time in Brazil, she came across a Beatriz Milhazes picture which inspired her even further, as it included bright colour and beautiful flowers.

From Chloe’s work the shop has a variety items with animal illustrations on them.

Shed Heaven

Fused Glass floral framed design by Shed Heaven™ ©Shed Heaven

An Alumna of the University of St Andrews herself and a Fifer– Kay Anderson has long been inspired by the beauty of St Andrews and the coastal areas of Fife as well as the natural beauty further inland.  Her love of the outdoors and the natural world is lovingly and painstakingly woven into her fused glass creations.  Working away in the Shed, Kay’s creations include bold floral compositions, abstract pieces, natural imagery and quirky animal designs in a range of large and small framed pieces to small hanging decorations. 

You can find the work from our makers and our other products at our shop here: https://www.standrewsuniversitystore.com/collections/wardlaw-museum

We hope in the future to extend the number of independent artists we work with, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at: museumenquiries@st-andrews.ac.uk.

St Andrew to St Andrews – Who, When and Why

Statue of St Andrew outside the Wardlaw Museum © The University of St Andrews

The 30th November is a national bank holiday and special day – it is Scotland’s Official National Day to celebrate our patron saint; St Andrew.

It is also special as our lovely town and University is named after St Andrew, but do you know who he was? And how a small town on the East Coast of Fife came to be named after him?

Well let me enlighten you…

St Andrew, also known as Saint Andrew the Apostle, was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus and brother to St Peter. He was a fisherman and was called on with Peter by Jesus to be ’fishers of men’. He is also said to be the first disciple of Jesus.

Communion token showing St Andrews town arms
and St Andrew crucified across a shield shaped Saltire (HC700)
Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museum

Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion, on an X shaped cross or saltire, hence the saltire cross of St Andrew on the Scottish national flag.  An interesting fact, as well as Scotland’s patron saint, he is also one of Russia’s, Greece’s, and Barbados!

The remains of St Andrews were later taken to Patras in Greece. Legend then has it, that one of the monks there, St Regulus (also known as St Rule), was advised in a dream to hide some of the bones. The bones were moved from Patras to Constantinople on the orders of the Holy Roman Emperor Constanius II in or around 357 to sit in the Church of the Holy Apostles there.

St Regulus then had a second dream, where he was told by an angel to take some of the bones to ‘the ends of the earth’ to protect them and build a shrine there. He set off, taking a kneecap, an upper arm bone, three fingers and a tooth from St Andrew to find a safe place for them.  

His journey however did not go smoothly. St Rule was shipwrecked off the coast of Fife and brought the relics to our small town on the East Fife Coast. At that time, St Andrews was known as Kilrymont – church of the king’s mounth (mounth meaning a headland) and from what we gather, already a place of importance among the Celtic church. 

St Rule then established a shrine with St Andrew’s bones at the site of where the St Andrews Cathedral now sits. St Rule’s Tower is named after him and as you all likely know, Regs Hall of Residence comes from St Regulus.

St Andrew, depicted on the head of the University Mace (HC1184) Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums

Although the legend is a great story, it is more likely that the relics were probably brought to Britain in 597 as part of the Augustine Mission, and then in 732 to Fife, by Bishop Acca of Hexham, a well-known collector of religious relics at the time.

St Rules Church was started in 1130 for a new order of Augustinian Priors who were based there. However, it soon became clear it would be too small and work on St Andrews Cathedral began in 1160. It was not consecrated until 1318 by Robert Bruce and it was the largest church, if not the largest building in all of Scotland. A fitting place to house the relics of St Andrew

The status of the town increased dramatically with the building of the Cathedral, and the name St Andrews became consistently attached to the town by about 1200, rather than the old name of Kilrymont, due to the growing cult attached to the bones of St Andrew being held at the Cathedral. 

St Andrew however was not made the official patron saint of Scotland until 1320 at the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath, 2 years after St Andrews Cathedral was consecrated!

Wooden Sculpture of St Andrew.
Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums

You may wonder where the relics of St Andrew that were housed at the Cathedral are today. During the Reformation in the 1500’s, in 1559 John Knox preached a famous fiery sermon at the Holy Trinity Church on South Street which roused the congregation to take up arms and come and destroy the interior of the Cathedral. It was at this time the relics disappeared, and no one knows where they went. A sad ending to our tale, however the name and relevance of St Andrew live on in the name of our lovely town.

Whatever you plan to do this St Andrews day, we hope you enjoy yourselves and remember the story of how St Andrew came to be our patron saint, and our fair town’s name.

Written by Sophie Belau-Conlon, Visitor Services Supervisor, Museums of the University of St Andrews

Living Seas: what we Can Do

There’s lots we can do this Year of Coasts and Waters to appreciate and safeguard Scotland’s Living Seas.  The St Andrews Bay of the North Sea and the nearby Firth of Forth and River Tay are ideal places to spot Scotland’s iconic sea species including seals, cetaceans – such as bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoises, or minke whales – or even the occasional basking shark.  So whether you hope to catch a glimpse from the town’s beaches or by venturing further afield along the Fife Coastal Path, there are plentiful local wildlife watching opportunities.  And best of all, it costs nothing: all you need is a warm jacket.

University of St Andrews student reading at Castle Sands, St Andrews
© The University of St Andrews

But as well as providing a relaxing diversion, responsible and respectful marine wildlife watching can play a role in protecting Scotland’s unique marine environment.  By recording and reporting your sightings, you can contribute to the collection of vital biodiversity data for use in research and wildlife conservation. 

With their recently launched “Citizen Fins” project, the marine mammalogists at the University of St Andrews’ Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) provide an excellent example of how information gathered by citizen science can be used to protect our Living Seas.  The project invites members of the public to share their photos of East Coast bottlenose dolphins, especially those spotted in the Firth of Forth and further south.  Researchers are interested in monitoring population movement so are looking for images which show identifying dorsal fin marks in detail and therefore allows specific animals to be identified and their movements tracked.  The project will aid evaluation of potential impacts of offshore developments on dolphins by analysing changes to these animals’ movements through Scotland’s East Coast into the waters of North East England.

Logo of the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU)

If you don’t have access to a camera or your local dolphins are proving camera shy, you can still contribute notes of other wildlife sightings at any time to biological recording centres such as the Fife Nature Records Centre.  And if you manage to take some photos which lack the detail required for IDing marine animals, you can share your images with interest groups like the Forth Marine Mammal Project.  

And if you a St Andrew University staff member or student, you can also now visit our Bell Pettigrew Museum and see some seaside specimens. These are all things you may even see as you visit the coast and beaches around St Andrews. We have even put together a tour for you to find some of these next time you visit!

Let us know how you get on and share any photos with us from your seaside treasure hunt.

Photograph courtesy of University of St Andrews

You may have recently seen the lobster in the quad, but we have other lobsters for you to see in the Bell Pettigrew Museum!

This is a Squat Lobster, found in St Andrews Bay. They can commonly be found in the western Mediterranean Sea, in the north eastern Atlantic Ocean, and also in the North Sea at depths of up to 150 metres, typically in cracks or under boulders.

Clue to find: Guarded above by a crafty crustacean. Several breatharian stay close.  

Photograph courtesy of University of St Andrews

You likely know all about the seagulls around St Andrews, but have you noticed there are different types?? These are black headed gulls, and part of their Latin name –ridibundus, means laughing, and they have a distinctive almost laugh like call. Not what you wish to hear when enjoying your ice cream!

Clue to find: Watch your sandwich with these British natives! A tall guardian has a leg nearby.

The sea can offer many interesting treasures, and this Halichondria panicea, is most commonly known as the breadcrumb sponge. It is a suspension feeder, feeding mainly on phytoplankton. It can come in a range of colours too; this grey or cream shade is normally found in deeper waters.

Photograph courtesy of University of St Andrews

Clue to find: Neptune drinks to the rocks’ success!

Photograph courtesy of the University of St Andrews

When you think of the beach, one of the things that spring to mind is seashells. These are some examples of Mactra corallina, a type of edible saltwater clam. They live normally on sandy sea floors of depths of 5 – 30m, although they are often found washed up on beaches.

Clue to find: Creatures to the left of me, crustaceans to the right. I’m right in the middle of all!

Photograph courtesy of University of St Andrews

Last on our treasure hunt is this not so scary tentacled creature! Cirriformia tentaculata, is a species of marine polychaete worm and can grow up to 10cm in length. They have soft bodies and lie buried in mud or sand.

Clue to find: Tentacles? What do you mean??

I am just reaching out along all sides to my other sea friends!

Human disturbance of marine wildlife can be catastrophic in its consequences, from causing injury and even death to splitting up family groups or driving animals from their natural feeding or breeding grounds.  The best way to enjoy marine wildlife is therefore by watching from the shore or on an official boat trip from an operator participating in the WiSe Scheme.  You may even be lucky enough to spot dolphins out in the bay from the window of University buildings on The Scores!  Wherever you are, you should always follow the Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code from NatureScot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage) as well as their Guide to Best Practice for Watching Marine Wildlife.

Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code from NatureScot

It’s also useful to know what you can do if you need to get aid for a stricken animal while you’re out and about.  Marine wildlife can become stranded, meaning the animal is either dead or remains alive but is stuck aground on the shore and unable to return to water.  This can happen with individual animals or as part of “mass stranding” events such as in 2012 when 27 pilot whales were stranded on the Fife coast between Anstruther and Pittenweem.  In the event you encounter live cetaceans or seals which appear stranded or injured, you should contact the SSPCA or British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), both of whom operate 24-hour emergency rescue services.  The BDMLR’s online guide “What to do if…” outlines what (if any) action you can take in different scenarios.

What to do if you see a marine animal in distress or dead:

  • If you find live stranded or injured cetaceans or seals contact SSPCA 03000 999 999 or British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) 01825 765546 (Office hours) and 07787 433412 (Out of office hours)
  • Animals with tags should also be reported to the Sea Mammal Research Unit smru@st-andrews.ac.uk
  • Cetaceans and basking sharks are protected in law meaning it is illegal to harass or harm them.  If you witness a wildlife crime (e.g. someone deliberately disturbing dolphins) you should report this to Police Scotland
  • Dead cetaceans, basking sharks, seals and turtles should be reported to the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS) strandings@sruc.co.uk

Reassessing a hero

Much like parents shouldn’t have a favourite child, I was once told that someone working in a museum shouldn’t have a favourite historical character.

But I do.

Rev Dr Thomas Chalmers, Image courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library, ID ALB-1-81


Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) was a church minister, social reformer, scientist, philosopher and economist; stubborn as a mule, proud as a peacock, often unwilling to admit his mistakes, visionary and go-get-‘em. He had hair like a bird’s nest and an accent once described as bruisingly barbarous, yet his preaching attracted huge crowds in a Victorian version of Beatlemania.  A stained-glass window dedicated to him will be on display at the Wardlaw Museum; a colourful commemoration of a colourful character.

Memorial window dedicated to Thomas Chalmers, Wardlaw Museum        © University of St Andrews

He studied at St Andrews, then infuriated the University by teaching rival classes in mathematics before returning as professor of Moral Philosophy in 1823, but he’s most famous for leading a third of the ministers of the Church of Scotland out of that denomination to form a new one, the Free Church of Scotland, in 1843.

On the surface, this event, called the “Disruption”, was about the courts overturning a congregation’s choice of minister in favour of the landowner’s candidate. Chalmers and his friends saw it as something deeper, the need for freedom from the secular law that was overreaching into God’s kingdom.

I admire Chalmers’ faith, his hard work in bringing education to the slums of Edinburgh and his efforts, though not always successful, to better support the poor of Glasgow.


In the middle of the Black Lives Matter protests of the summer it was brought to my attention that soon after its foundation the Free Church accepted £3000 from US churches frequented by slave owners. Abolitionist Frederick Douglas, himself formerly enslaved, argued that the denomination was benefitting from slavery and campaigned for the Free Church to “send the money back”.

The Free Church refused, and tied itself in knots in justifying its position, arguing that someone who inherited slaves was a not a slave-owner, but a “slave-holder”, and stating that having slaves did not make someone a bad master.

On digging further I found that in 1826, while professor of Moral Philosophy at St Andrews, Chalmers himself wrote a treaty arguing for the abolition of slavery. All well and good, until reading on and finding Chalmers’ unsavoury solution.

In order to achieve abolition, Chalmers argued, slaves should be given a day off each week, during which they should work to earn money to buy their own freedom a day at a time, being fully free within seven or eight years. Then the enslaved person could proceed to buy the freedom of his family. “But,” Chalmers wrote, “the slave who idled away his free time, whether in sleep or amusement, would of course make no further progress towards a state of freedom.”

Chalmers’ suggestion makes us baulk; we see underlying racism, an evident lack of compassion and a failure to recognise both the urgency of freedom and the injustice of continued slavery, even while he argued for abolition. There’s also hypocrisy – quick to champion the church’s freedom from secular law, slow to achieve man’s freedom from slavery.

Reassessing a hero

So what do we do with this?

Do we wholeheartedly condemn Chalmers and the Free Church? Morality doesn’t change; slavery and racism are wrong now and they were wrong then.

Do we excuse them as a product of their age? Chalmers and the Free Church sought abolition, but their own attitudes remained ingrained with the prejudices of the time, when slavery was deeply embedded in wider economies and societies.

This being the nature of that society, do we argue that they were being practical? The Free Church in using money that came from slavery to fund good work that bettered the lives of others, and Chalmers in trying to find a practical, if deeply flawed, way of bringing enslavement to an end.

Do we judge not lest we be judged? Do we hold back from criticism of the past for fear of future generations judging us for our failure to tackle injustices today, be it modern slaves making our cheap clothes or the climate crisis?

Do we let this issue hide the excellent work done by Chalmers and the Free Church elsewhere? The Free Church did much to tackle poverty and inequality; indeed, it was another Free Church minister and St Andrews professor of Moral Philosophy, William Knight, who was key to bringing university-level education to women through St Andrews’ Lady Literate in Arts scheme.

Or do we accept that life is complicated and respond with a mixture of the above?

I continue to wrestle with these questions and don’t know the right answers. Discussions with others, like our regular Critical Conversations series, help us find the right path. But I have learnt that even our heroes have deep faults. My own reaction is to admire the good, speak out against the bad and learn from both.

Written by Matt Sheard, Learning and Access Curator, University of St Andrews Museums

Why St Andrews?


The University of St Andrews is the oldest university in Scotland, and one of Europe’s most ancient universities. Today, the answer to the question – Why St Andrews? – seems to be rather cliché due to a great importance of St Andrews in the academic world. However, in the first decade of the 15th century it was not that obvious and the subject of consideration of two canon scholars, Bishop Henry Wardlaw in Scotland and Pope Benedict XIII in Avignon, France. Gallery 1, Scotland’s First University, at the Wardlaw Museum presents unique material remnants providing answers to the question Why St Andrews?

Why St Andrews? Bishop Henry Wardlaw’s perspective

While Henry Wardlaw[1] or Henry de Wardlau, who studied canon law at Avignon[2] and was related to the papal court, was granted the bishopric of St Andrews in 1403, this centre of the Scottish medieval Catholic Church was already a burgh with a market town and fairs attracting broad attention. Multiple letters from Benedict XIII to Scotland provide evidence that scholars educated in France were present in St Andrews diocese as early as the late 14th century,[3] however, the local history of studying dates back much further. Scotland’s largest cathedral with a priory was the focal point of the city. [4] For monastic communities, reading was an essential part of spiritual reflection and the library played a significant role in monastic and ecclesiastic life.[5] Books copied from other priories, donated by patrons and benefactors for instance in 1140 and 1150, travelled to St Andrews from other religious houses.[6] This resulted in impressive holdings of works, as described by the authors of the 14th century Registrum Anglie. The St Andrews library was a bedrock of further scholastic community. Two stone book presses,[7] still present in the cloister, are material evidence of what remains from the initial teaching hub. Eight scholars are said to have launched teaching in St Andrews and Bishop Wardlaw describes them in his grant of privileges as ‘venerable men, the doctors, masters, bachelors, and scholars dwelling in the city of St Andrews’.[8] All of these circumstances fuelled the establishment of a studium generale in the years leading up to 1413 when University of St Andrews was founded. [9]

Maquette of Bishop Henry Wardlaw (HC2011.21 ) can be viewed in Gallery 1 at the Wardlaw Museum]

Why St Andrews? Papal perspective


Papal bull of Foundation can be viewed in Gallery 1 at the Wardlaw Museum (image courtesy of University of St Andrews Special Collections)

Only the Pope or Emperor could grant both the university status and the licencia ubique docendi; a license to teach anywhere. Bishop Wardlaw and King James I, Wardlaw’s pupil, asked Benedict XIII to authorise the foundation of the university. The papal approval was sent in six bulls granting university status to the institution in St Andrews (1413).

Pope Benedict XIII (1328-1423) was an individual of unique nature in the history of Medieval Europe and the history of the papacy. He was born as Pedro Martínez de Luna y Pérez de Gotor, a son of a noble family in the city of Illueca in Aragon.[10] His Coat of Arms, a crescent moon (luna), along with the diamond shapes of Bishop Wardlaw, and the lion rampant from the Royal Arms of Scotland, formed the Coat of Arms of the University of St Andrews.


Banner of the Coat of Arms of the University of St Andrews (HC1160) can be viewed in Gallery 1 at the Wardlaw Museum


Benedict XIII did not reign in Rome, but in Avignon. As the Antipope, during the Western Schism (1378-1417), he reminded in opposition not only to subsequent popes in Rome (Boniface IX, Innocent VII, Gregory XII) but also to other antipopes derived from the Council of Pisa (1409; Alexander V and John XXIII), and to Martin V, unanimously elected during the Council of Constance (1417). Eventually, as the result of the Council of Constance, Benedict XIII maintained governmental recognition of Armagnac and Scotland only.

Through his claims to the papal throne, Benedict XIII was trying to secure his authority in Europe and the foundation of the university was in his best interest. Bishop Wardlaw even claimed grants of privileges to save the authority of Benedict’s Apostolic See.[11] In the petition to the Pope, Bishop Wardlaw bolsters the case to maintain Scottish loyalty and the threat of heresy by improving local high learning for the clergy.[12] From Benedict’s point of view, the University of St Andrews was to be a lucrative deal strengthening his position against the competitors. Sadly for him, after the Council of Constance, the University of St Andrews decided that support of the council was necessary for a united church and it came out in opposition to Benedict.[13]

A plaster cast of the skull of Benedict XIII and a single hair from his head mounted in a microscope slide[14] remind us that origins of the University are linked with the Great Schism and one of the most influential antipopes.

Cast of skull of Pope Benedict XIII (HC789) can be viewed in Gallery 1 of the Wardlaw Museum [15]

Why St Andrews? Students’ perspective

The answer was explicitly stated in the papal document ‘Because of the dangers and troubles to Scots who, because of the absence of universities in Scotland, have to travel to foreign parts to study’.[16] Another reason was the reduction in the cost of studies. As Norman Reid believes, ‘Scotland needed more clergy who were well educated and the provision of a home university would enable that expansion at a more manageable cost than continuing to send all students abroad (…). Not to stem the flow of Scots to foreign universities – what did not happen – but rather to increase educational provision by offering a home alternative’.[17]

According to Reid, Benedict XIII in his papal bulls acknowledged the education received by Scots at the universities that were not obedient to the antipope. Scottish students returning from universities abroad could continue their studies in St Andrews or pursue their education elsewhere, including universities of schismatic obedience, in this case following the Pope in Rome.[18]

The first students of St Andrews are depicted on the medieval University seal, made between 1414 and 1418, showing scholars learning before a teacher, overseen by Scotland’s patron saint. The University seal was used to authenticate official documents.

Digital reproduction of seal matrix from the Bull of Foundation courtesy of Special Collections of the University of St Andrews Library which can be seen in Gallery 1 of the Wardlaw Museum

Written by Dr Kamila Oles, Visitor Services Facilitator, Museums of the University of St Andrews

[1] See https://museumoftheuniversityofstandrews.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/who-was-henry-wardlaw/

[2] McGurk F., ed., 1976, Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 1394-1419, Scottish History Society, vol. 13, Edinburgh; Reg Aven 278, 436x-437v, (20 October 1394), p. 20

[3] Ibid. pp.20-23.

[4] Simpson A. and Stevenson S., 1981, Historic St Andrews: the archaeological implications of development, Scottish burgh survey series, Glasgow.

[5] Leedham-Green E., and Webber T, eds., 2006, The Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland, vol. 1 , Cambridge; Coates A., 1996, English Medieval Books: The Reading Abbey Collections from Foundation to Dispersal , Oxford.

[6] Duncan A.A.M., The Foundation of St Andrews cathedra Priory, 1140, pp.122-123; Higgitt J., ed., 2006, Scottish Libraries, London 2006, pp. 222-225

[7] Reid N. H., 2017, The Prehistory of the University of St Andrews St. Andrews, in: Brown M., and Stevenson K., eds., Medieval St Andrews. Church, Cult, City, Woodbridge, p. 248.

[8] Ibid. p. 239.

[9] Mason R., 2017, University, City and Society, in: Brown M., and Stevenson K., eds., Medieval St Andrews. Church, Cult, City, Woodbridge, p. 268.

[10] Müller-Schauenburg B., 2019, The lonely antipope – or why we have difficulties classifying Pedro de Luna [Benedict XIII] as a religious individual, in: Fuch M. et al. eds., Religious Individualisation, pp. 1351-1364

[11] The original Wardlaw’s grant of privileges is missing. One of six papal bulls of August 1413, issued for the University of St Andrews, recited Wardlaw’s text; Reid N. H., 2017, The Prehistory of the University of St Andrews St. Andrews, p. 262.

[12] Mason R., 2017, University, City and Society, p. 263.

[13] McGurk F., ed., 1976, Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, p. 13.

[14] Read J., 1973, Pedro de Luna: The Pope from the Sea, History Today, vol. 23, issue 3.

[15] https://museumoftheuniversityofstandrews.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/foundations/

[16] McGurk F., ed., 1976, Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 28 August, 1413, Reg Aven 341, 607v-608v, p. 278.

[17] Reid N. H., 2017, The Prehistory of the University of St Andrews St. Andrews, p. 263.

[18] Ibid. p. 246.

From Girls to Immortals: Meet the Women Artists of Recording Scotland

Photograph of “The Immortals”, Katherine Cameron is pictured second from left in the middle row alongside other notable “Glasgow Girls” artists such as Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh (back row), Image from WikiCommons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Immortals!.jpg

Riddell’s Court, Lawnmarket by Katherine Kay Cameron, ©Ewan Cameron Watt, image reproduced by University of St Andrews with permission by E. Cameron Watt

The Recording Scotland collection is a set of watercolours, oils and prints collected during World War II to permanently capture the landscapes and the “feeling” of the nation.  Each piece of artwork was chosen because it captured an essential view of Scotland; with emphasis on the places most likely threatened by war and industrialization.  This is part three of a series of blogs about different aspects of the Recording Scotland collection.

The Recording Scotland scheme provided an opportunity for male and female artists from across Scotland.  Here we feature just a few of the female artists who contributed to the collection.

Katherine Cameron (1874-1965) came from a large, artistic family in Glasgow.  Following her brother, D. Y. Cameron, she studied in Glasgow and later Paris, perfecting her techniques in etching, watercolour, and oils.  She is most known for her work in capturing landscapes and flowers. She was a member of the Glasgow Society of Lady Artists, which provided a supportive network for meeting and exhibiting work. The group known as the “Glasgow Girls” were female artists trained in the 1890s and socialised with popular figures like Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  The group of artists playfully called themselves “The Immortals,” referencing their love of Celtic mythology or possibly the immortality bestowed by creating artwork.  Cameron married wealthy art collector, Arthur Kay in 1927. Two of her pieces purchased for the scheme were originally printed as illustrations in “Haunted Edinburgh” in 1928.  Hundreds of her works are held by major institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Cross Wynd, Falkland by Anna Dixon, Watercolour (1920-1942), courtesy of the University of St Andrews Museums

Anna Dixon (1873-1959) was another prolific artist of birds, flowers, and figures in landscapes. Dixon enjoyed painting in France and the west coast of Scotland.  Her artwork was known to feature crofts, donkeys, horses, and children.  Of the pieces chosen for the Recording Scotland collection, her painting of Cross Wynd in Falkland highlights the domestic lives of the citizens.

May Marshall Brown (1887-1968), born May Mary Robertson, was the daughter of an Edinburgh wine merchant.  She studied at Edinburgh College of Art and later married the artist, William Marshall Brown, who was 24 years her senior. His influence is witnessed in her style of work. May Marshall Brown is best known for her watercolours of fishing villages and boats.  As she explained to the committee, “I mainly paint boats, sea and fishermen working, since the war I have not had a chance to continue the work, as one is so much disturbed by military at the shore, even when one has a permit to paint.” She was able to sell three paintings, and her late husband posthumously contributed four to the Committee. Brown was the artist who contributed last week’s piece, “Cat Row, Dunbar.”  We will also learn more about one of William Marshall Brown’s paintings of the Oronsay Priory in a future post.

Ann Spence Black (1861-1947) provided seven paintings to Recording Scotland collection. Born in Dysart, Fife she was seemingly self-taught. She lived in Edinburgh and spent time painting the east coast of Scotland, and the areas around Culross. Black is one of the oldest contributors to the collection, being well into her 80s at the time of the Second World War.

“Crail Harbour” (1920 – 1942), by Ann Spence Black, Image courtesy of the University of St Andrews Museums

The artwork contributed by women makes up about twenty percent of the collection which leaves the lion’s share to male artists and their representation of Scotland.  It is also interesting to note that the female artists tended to be in the later decades of their lives. Many of the women were in their late 50s, 60s, and 70s when they were submitting works.  Some of them, like May Marshall Brown, were also carrying on the legacies of others by sending works for consideration from departed family and friends.

The decades had been hard for these women artists who witnessed not only one war but two, but they persevered in their art and interests.  For them and other women artists of this period in particular for Katherine Cameron and the rest of the Glasgow Girls It is not impossible to imagine they remembered fondly their “immortal” days before the turn of the century and hoped to secure a place in history by submitting these tender pieces to posterity.