St Andrews is in a state of excitement this week. Well, those of us in the town who enjoy things like medieval skeletons, anyway. Whilst doing roadworks in Greyfriars Gardens, just off Market Street workmen discovered the bones of several people, thought to be Franciscan monks. Below we see the site where the bodies were found. A finding in such a central location is apparently unprecedented.
The burial site in St Andrews town centre topped with commemorative traffic cones.
So who were these people? According to Fife Council archaeologist, Douglas Speirs, they are the remains of at least six Franciscan monks whose abbey stood in the centre of town in the 15th Century. Established in 1458, the friary of the Observant Franciscans offered its spiritual services to the people St Andrews until it was destroyed in 1559, in the early Reformation.
Further work, using radiocarbon dating, is needed to determine the exact dates of the discovered bones. If they are found to be from the period 1458-1559AD then there is a good chance that this was, indeed, the graveyard associated with the abbey, which itself is thought to have been located under what is now the Student’s Union. Further investigation of the extent of the cemetery will also be needed.