The Doric Columns
The Aberdon Loch
There were 2 lochs in the south-east end of the Parish, the one remarkable for the rugged nature of the district around, and the another near Dyce (Bishops Loch) for its having been the scene of the residence of the Bishops of Aberdeen before the Chanonry was erected.
The other Loch was smaller and referred to as Canny Sweet Pots and was considered to be formed by the old river bed of the Don when it once turned south to enter the North Sea below the Broad Hill.
Aberdon and its Water Supply
To give the residents outside the Chanonry the benefit of the good water it was taken in a brick drain to Cluny Port, where a Well was made and a pump was put in, accessible from the outside. Water for the service of the Cathedral was got from St Mary's Well, a small spring in the brae going down from the Chanonry to the haugh beside the Don. The Channel had been made a very long time ago and it was still running in 1689 when the Provost and Magistrates of Old Aberdeen made an Act against washing at the Channel within the Chanonry, or at Powis Bridge, or on the common street, under the pain of four shillings. The Channel is shown on Gordon's map in 1061, and in Taylor's map in 1773. The hills on the north-west of the Chanonry are called the Kettle Hills. Kettle represents the Gaelic word "cuitail," which means cattlefold. Places of this name are numerous in both Scotland and England, and Kettle is an Irish personal name. This is one of many indications that anciently Gaelic was the language spoken by the inhabitants of the British Isles
Women with a big washing on hand went to the Kettle Hills on the North Side of the Loch because he Channel passed them and there they were out of sight when tramping blankets in a tub. For an outside washing it was customary to make a "luncart," which was a circular wall of stones with openings to let in air freely and high enough to hold a great tire. A kettle was hung over the fire from a bar resting on supports at the sides. Sometimes the Iuncart was made by digging into the side of a bank, and then it needed little building up. Very strict commands were given not to pour out dirty water where it could run into the Channel.
The inhabitants of Aberdon were not wholly dependent on the Channel for water. There were several wells inside and outside the Chanonry. Old Aberdeen is on an old sea beach composed of layers of sand resting on a bed of hard glacial clay. Wells are easily dug in the sand, and when they penetrate a few feet into the clay they hold a supply of water. There was a great draw-well in the middle of the bishop's court, lined with dressed sand-stone. There was no granite dressing when it was made, and the sandstone had been used because it was easily dressed. When Cromwell wanted stones to make fortifications on the Castlehill in Aberdeen, men were employed to take out the lining of the Bishop's Well. After some progress had been made, the sides of the Well fell in and buried the men. There was also a draw-well in the Chaplains' court at the east end of the Chanonry. In the wall of the Chanonry on the way to the Bridge of Don there was a draw-well, common to the Chanonry and the town. About 1689 the Town Council had to deal with a dangerous draw-well in John Fraser's Close, which was level with the ground at its mouth, so that in the daytime children had fallen in, and in the night older people. It was ordered that a mantling of timber should be made round it. A stone wall was afterwards built round the mouth of this well, and others were protected in the same way.
When Bishop Elphinstone died he left a new constitution for the
he had founded in 1497, but it had not been confirmed before his death. It is
detailed at great length in the Records of the University, " Fasti Aberdonenses,"
and it provides an aqueduct four feet wide from the Loch to the University. The
aqueduct must have followed the courses of the Loch Burn and the Powis Burn, on
the left side. The University had also a well of its own, still in existence
though not in use, on the south side of the buildings. The supply of water from
the Channel gradually became insufficient for the growing wants of the place,
and many houses were far from the Channel. The Channel was liable to get out of
order, and its water was at too low a level to reach the whole town, and
therefore it was resolved to bring in a new supply in pipes from a higher level.
Springs west of the Loch were collected. in a cistern, from which the water was
conducted by pipes across the bed of the Loch and along Cluny Wynd to a
reservoir in the Townhouse. From this the water was distributed to stone cistern
wells in the streets, some of whicli still stand, though now dry.
Aberdeen: topographical, antiquarian, and historical papers on the City of Aberdeen - John Milne 1911
With the Reformation of 1560 change came. The Cathedral lost its status as cathedral. Its treasures were taken and its land sold. Once immediately before and during the reformation and then later when the conflict with Charles I escalated, recovered its Cathedral status. This also sheds some light on the question why St Machar’s is referred to as Cathedral. While it is a part of the Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian church, which has neither bishops nor cathedrals, St Machar's is a cathedral only by name: The Cathedral Church of St Machar. This seemingly trivial distinction is nevertheless a reminder of serious conflicts which more than once in the in the middle of the 17th century led to civil wars that engulfed Scotland, England and Ireland. General Monck led Cromwell's troops into Aberdeen in 1654. Looking for material for his fort he removed the stones from the empty and destroyed Bishop's Palace to the east and from the disused and probably never finished Choir. It is not clear if this led to a weakening of the base of the central tower. A storm in 1688 caused its fall into the transepts and crossing, and damaged the nave as well.
We may assume that in the selection of a site for the Cathedral of the diocese of Aberdon a permanent supply of potable water had not been left out of account. The site of the church is 50 feet above the sea and nearly as much above the Don. Proximity to the river, therefore, had not been considered in the matter of drink, though it must have been thought of as a source of food in a Catholic religious establishment. The nearest supply of water was the Loch, and the cradle of Aberdon had been planted near it. A very high antiquity is claimed for the first church at Aberdon, many believing that a church had been built there by one of Columba's followers. There is a legend accounting for the selection of the site of the Cathedral, but it is not worth repeating. All that can be learned concerning St Machar has been gathered up and related in " Scottish Notes and Queries " by Dr Gammack, and "The Diocesan Saints of Scotland " by the Rev George Cormack ; but it does not carry conviction that the Cathedral of Aberdeen was dedicated to St Machar. The Gaelic word " machair " means a haugh, and the proximity of the Cathedral to a large, fertile haugh on the south side of the Don had probably given rise to the legend of St Machar. The 1t place of worship at Aberdon might have been on the haugh below the Cathedral. There is not before 1170 any writing that can be relied upon in which St Machar is mentioned in connection with Aberdon, or any evidence that there was a church where the Cathedral is before the time of David I; yet proximity to the Loch affords a strong presumption that there had been a settlement there soon after Columba's time.
From Shetland in the north of Scotland to Wigton in the south many shallow lakes like the Loch of Aberdon are found to have remains of crannogs, which had been made in them for the safety of valuables in case of sudden attacks from plunderers. The mixture of bronze and iron implements and vessels found in the crannogs indicates that they belong to the latter half of the 1st millenium of the Christian era.
Bishop's Loch lies to the north of Aberdeen, just within the City boundary. A Charter from the 12th century refers to the lands of Goul or Goval, where the Bishop of Aberdeen had his Palace or Residence on an island in Loch Goul, now called Bishop's Loch, where at 1 time the site was visible. The approach to the Palace was by a drawbridge. At this time, the Bishops were engaged in developing the Chanonry in Old Aberdeen. Over time, the lands outside the Chanonry were sold off. It then showed a much larger expanse of water than now exists. The water level has been lowered and certain areas are silted up and there is lush growth of various wetland plants. Nearby, there is new housing and a sand gravel quarry. Many discussions took place about the possible creation of a nature reserve to encompass this loch and two other nearby lochs - Lochs Corby and Lily - and they were listed as Sites of Special Scientific Interest in October 1983.
There was certainly a crannog in Loch Goule on the north side of the Don, and Oreni says that Sir Alexander Gordon of Cluny, Provost of Old Aberdeen in I600, who lived near by, had a summer-house in the middle of the Loch and a pleasure boat upon it. This affords a presumption that there had been a crannog there before, or at least it proves that the loch was suitable for one. Like the round towers of Mousa, Brechin, and Abernethy crannogs in Scotland were not capable of sustaining long-continued resistance ; but they were useful for storing valuables such as the sacred silver vessels and emblems belonging to a church. The Loch belonged to the Chapter of the Cathedral and was sometimes called the Bishop's Loch, and sometimes the Dean's Loch because he looked after the property of the Cathedral. He was sometimes called the Bishop's Eye.
the Reformation the Loch and the ground around it fell to the Crown. In
was given by James VI. to Thomas Gairden of Blairton. The inhabitants of
Aberdeen wished to buy the Loch, and several proposals with this object in view
were made; but terms could not be agreed upon by the parties concerned till
1655, when it became the property of the Town Council. In 1662 it was let on
lease for 19 years to James Gordon of Seaton, who drained it by deepening
the eye at Boat-House Brae Road. It grew good crops, and at the end of the lease
the Town Council let it annually by public roup. It soon ceased to have any
appearance of having been once covered with water. The water of a small stream
passes through the bed of the Loch, in an open ditch. If the eye were closed it
would again become a lake ; and this may be done for an ornament when Aberdeen
extends in this direction, as it is not adapted for being covered with
The Old Brewery is a late 18th or early 19th century building, whose name indicates either that it once served as the Burgh Brewery, or that it is built on its site. The Old Town's original alehouse was established in 1504.
The Old Brewery has been designated a Site of Historical Interest, which means that no external modifications can be made to it.
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