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Time Lines

The Romans in Scotland

AD 80: Julius Agricola Roman Governor of Britain, invades Scotland, reaching a line between the Rivers Clyde and Forth by AD 82.

AD 83: Julius Agricola invades northern Scotland.
In AD 78-9 Agricola brings the north of England under Roman control. In 80 he establishes a line of defensive outposts across Scotland's narrowest point, between the Clyde and the Forth. In the following three years he presses steadily further north into the wilds of Caledonia (the Roman word for Scotland, from the name of its leading tribe). Finally, in AD 84, he wins a major victory over the Caledonii at an unidentified place called Mons Graupius - probably almost as far north as Aberdeen.

AD 84: The Battle of Mons Graupius takes place at a location still uncertain. The Romans under Julius Agricola convincingly defeat the Caledonians under Calgacus. They fail to press home their advantage, however, and instead establish a defensive line of forts extending north east from Loch Lomond to Stonehaven to guard the exits from the main highland glens.

AD 105: The Romans withdraw from Scotland to a defensive line between the Rivers Solway and Tyne. This is fortified as Hadrian's Wall from AD 121.

AD 139: The Romans advance again, to a line between the Forth and Clyde and build the Antonine Wall.

AD 170: The Romans withdraw to Hadrian's Wall once more.

AD 208: Roman Emperor Septimius Severus launches the last campaign intended to conquer Scotland, establishing a major base at Cramond, on the site of a fort built in AD 142.

AD 211: Septimius Severus dies in York. His successor Caracalla abandons territory north of Hadrians Wall and in 212 the Romans withdraw from what will later become Scotland for the final time.

AD 250: The first raids take place in western Scotland by the strong Irish tribe, the Scots.

AD 367: The Picti, or the Picts, push the Romans back from Hadrian's Wall. "Picti" is the Romans' disparaging slang for their northern neighbours, meaning the painted (or tattooed) ones.


c. 750 Aberdeen is founded as a fishing settlement

1137 Aberdeen has grown into a busy little port and market town. It is given a Bishop.

1179 Aberdeen is given a Charter (a document giving the people certain rights). Aberdeen has a population of around 3,000.

1264 Aberdeen now has a Castle

1221 Blackfriars arrive in Aberdeen
The Castlegate was certainly the main street and market-place by 1290, being referred to, then, as a forum.  Many a funny thing happened.

Coat of Arms - Bruce, who, in testimony of exertions, granted them permission to bear as the arms of the town, "gules, three towers triple towered, within a double tressure counter flowered argent, supported by two leopards proper, the motto in a scroll above 'bon accord,' " (that having been the watchword on the night when they rose against the English); Circa1308

1336 The English Sack and Burn Aberdeen

1350 The Black Death reaches Aberdeen

1363 A leper hostel is founded outside Aberdeen

1450 The population of Aberdeen is about 4,000

1495 Kings College is founded
Earl Marischal’s Hall dating from about 1540 was next to Pitfodel’s Lodging on the south (harbour) side of the Castlegate. This was the town house of the Keiths of Dunnottar, the Earls Marischal. It had been the Abbot of Deer’s town house but became the property of the (Protestant) Keiths following the Reformation. It consisted of a group of buildings surrounding a central court­yard with gardens attached. It is from this house that Mary Queen of Scots is believed to have witnessed the beheading of Sir John Gordon in 1562 following the defeat of the Gordons of Huntly at the Battle of Corrichie.

1545 Provost Skene's House is built
Of the reputedly haunted Guestrow (from Ghaist-Raw), or Ghost Row the main remnant is the beautifully restored 16th century George Skene’s House, long known as Cumberland’s Lodging following its requisition by the infamous Duke of Cumberland on his way to Culloden Moor in 1746 and his subsequent Highland Clearances.

1571 The Battle of Craibstone
was fought on 20 November between the Gordons and the Forbes So called due to its proximity to Craibstone Croft
, the battle was won by the Gordons who forced the Forbes into retreat in approximately one hour with the loss of sixty men.

1593 Marischal College is founded
The aristocracy were beheaded, by sword or, later, by Aberdeen’s own patent guillotine, the Maiden, last used in 1615

1644 The Marquis of Montrose and his men plunder Aberdeen             Battle of Justice Mills

1647 Plague strikes Aberdeen

1686 The Market Cross is built - Mercat Cross

The Tolbooth (Left), dating from 1394, but rebuilt in 1615 and nowadays largely concealed by the front age of the Town House, built in 1867–72 in Flemish-Gothic style.
A Jail, and then the Town Hall
The Mercat Cross at its original location

1721 The streets of Aberdeen are lit by oil lamps

1741 The Royal Infirmary is built

The New Inn built by the Free masons in 1755, visited by James Boswell and Dr. John son in 1773. The Freemasons had their Lodge on the top floor, hence the adjacent Lodge Walk. The New Inn was replaced by the North of Scotland Bank, later the Clydesdale Bank, built in 1839–42 as the corner-piece of Castle Street and King Street, and now a pub named after its illustrious Architect Archibald Simpson.

Earl Marischal’s Hall was purchased by the Town Council and demolished in 1767 to allow ‘the opening up of a passage from the Castlegate to the shore (or harbour) and erecting a street there’, that being Marischal Street. Before then there had been no direct route from Castle Street to the Quay, and the growth of trade at the harbour made a new street absolutely necessary. Marischal Street was (and still is) a fly over, possibly the first in Europe, vaulting Virginia Street by means of ‘Bannerman’s Bridge’. It was also the first street in Aberdeen to be paved with squared granite setts, the first street of the new, post-medieval Aberdeen and it is the only complete Georgian street remaining in Aberdeen today.  Bannerman Place was the other side of the railway sidings opposite Fish Street which may have been a fish market before the railway shunters commandeered the space.

The same view from the relocated Mercat Cross a with amore accurate photographic perspective and less artistic licence and retro Lighting Standards.

1775 The Robert Gordon Institute of Technology opens
Robert Gordon’s College, built 1739 to the design of William Adam, father of the Adam brothers, Robert and James, who are commemorated by the Adelphi Court, the name of which refers to dolphins – a classical symbol of brotherhood.

1780 North Pier is built

1801 Aberdeen has a population of 27,000
The construction of Union Street from 1801 and the development of the ‘New Town’ west wards of the Denburn encouraged the wealthy and fashionable to migrate in that direction, and the old or medieval town deteriorated through out the 19th century. The Castlegate became squalid and dangerous and was notorious for the number and brazeness of the prostitutes, who catered for the soldiers in the Bar racks and the seamen from the harbour.

1817 St Andrews Episcopal Cathedral is built

1823 Bon Accord Square is laid out


The Bridge in Union Street, over the valley in which the Denburn runs, is a very elegant structure, shewing a single arch whose span is 132 feet, and the height to the top of the parapet 56 feet.

1824 Aberdeen gains gas street light

1850 The Railway reaches Aberdeen

1860 Kings and Marischal Colleges join to find Aberdeen University

[Marischal College, Aberdeen, Scotland]

1871 Victoria Park is laid out

1874 City Hospital opens

1883 Duthie Park is laid out

1885 An Art Gallery is built

1888 The Wallace statue is erected

1894 The first electricity generating station in Aberdeen opens

1899 Electric trams begin running

1901 Westburn Park is laid out

1908 Aberdeen gains its first cinema

Aberdeen in Colour 1936

1938 The Northern Hotel opens

1940 Bon Accord swimming pool is built

60's Aberdeen

Typhoid Hits Aberdeen 1964

1967 St Nicholas House is built - more's the pity

1971 Granite production in Aberdeen ends

1975 The first North Sea Oil arrives in Aberdeen

1982 The new Fish Market is built

1990 The Bon Accord Shopping Centre opens

1994 Telford Dock is built

1995 Trinity Centre opens

1996 Aberdeen is made a unitary authority

1997 The Maritime Museum and the Gordon Highlanders Museum open

People of Aberdeen

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Last modified: 01/09/2013