St. Andrews The Arms of the Royal Burgh of St.Andrews Community Council (Used by permission )

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Bow Butts *

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Tour: The Scores - St. James Church  | Old Course - 1st tee and 18th green  | Playfair Terrace  | St Andrews Old Course and Royal and Ancient Clubhouse - viewed from top floor of Hamilton Hall  | The West Sands 
Visit: Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews

Bow Butts *

Bow Butts is an open piece of grassy parkland to the east of the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse. It provides a panoramic view of the West Sands, the Bruce Embankment and along the cliffs by the Scores. Today the area is a pleasant recreation spot. In the summer visiting bands entertain people from the bandstand, Ice cream and teas are served from the Pavilion and there is easy access to the SeaLife Centre and the British Golf Museum.

The area is dominated by the obelisk of Martyrs' Monument, erected in memory of four St. Andrews martyrs ... Patrick Hamilton, Henry Forrest, Paul Craw and Walter Myln; who were each burned at the stake for their beliefs. Their martyrdoms helped to usher in the Reformation in Scotland.

The name Bow Butts originates from the ancient requirement on all able bodied men to be able to bear arms in time of war, the weapon of choice being bow and arrow. Bow Butts was the archery range for St. Andrews.

By 1457 golf and football (soccer) in Scotland had become so popular that James II of Scotland enacted a ban on them on Sundays, saying that they were to be "utterly cryit doun and not usit".

Men and boys twelve years and older were expected to participate in the archery competitions held four times a year. Those who didn't turn up were taxed two pence to help pay for the drink served to those who did particpate.

Archery at the Bow Butts continued as a sport until the 18th century, by which time its neccessity for national defense had diminished and it had become more of a sport encouraged by the university. Save for the Royal Company of Archers, St. Andrews University now holds the largest collection of archery medals anywhere. The tradition being that the winning archer presented a medal to the university at his own expense.

Looking along the cliffs over the water, is the location of "Witch Lake". Suspected witches were cast into the lake. If they drowned they were innocent. If they floated it was evidence of sorcery on their part and they would be hauled off and burned at the stake. In time the area was used for an outdoor swimming pool, "The Step Rock", which has more recently been converted to the SeaLife Aquarium.

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