Historic Scotland

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History

A grand entrance

The West Port was built by the mason Thomas Robertson in 1587, incorporating parts of an earlier gate here. Edinburgh’s Netherbow Port, which was demolished in 1764, was the model for the gate’s design.

St Andrews was never a walled city in a defensive sense, and gate was more a symbol of civic pride than it was a fortification. Like other medieval Scottish towns, it was bounded by garden dykes. These were secured at street entrances by gates, of which the West Port alone survives.

The West Port consists of:

  • a central rounded, arched pend
  • two semi-octagonal towers
  • a corbelled parapet, punctured by imitation cannon water-spouts

Reconstruction and renovation

The port seems to have fallen into dilapidation by the 1800s. It was ‘completely renovated’ in 1843 by the provost and Mr John Grant of Kilgraston.

It was reported that ‘huge, uncouth buttress projecting into the street were removed and substituted by buttresses at once elegant and powerful’.

Other renovations included:

  • a stone panel on the east containing the city arms
  • a stone panel on the west with a carving of David I on horseback
  • the two side arches

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