Aberdeen - the City
and orcheyards adjoyning; every garding hes its posterne, and thes are planted
with all sorts of trees which the climat will suffer to grow; so that the quholl
toune, to such as draw neer it upon some syds of it, looks as if it stood in a
garding or litle wood.? - Parson Gordon
Maps of Aberdeen
Land around the
Rivers Don and Dee has seen human activity since at least
6000BC. The rivers offered access inland, sources of food and water and stable
ground in an area of lower lying coast.
Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age finds
indicate on-going settlement in the area.
The Roman settlement of
Devanna may have been at a site near the present
day City and Aberdeen could be the
?Apardion? mentioned in the
Saga. Aberdeen as we know it today
began with two main areas of settlement;
Old Aberdeen and what became known as
(to the south). They developed on a series of sand and gravel mounds aligned
north to south, between the
Don and Dee. Aberdeen
was ideally positioned for trade with
and the East Coast of Scotland during the medieval period. Fertile agricultural
land provided wealth for land owners and the discovery of
its export and use in building Aberdeen during the C18th and C19th gave rise to
the city?s well known nickname
?the Granite City?.
Aberdeen manages to retain its charm as a village surrounded by the City. It
developed around religion and education evident from the physical survival of
St Machar?s Cathedral
King?s College. It
is tradition that
founded Old Aberdeen?s first church during the
By the medieval period both documentary and physical evidence exists of
established a new Bishopric at Old Aberdeen in
1125/30. St Machar?s
Cathedral dates from at least
but probably replaced a building of around
1160. Canons resided in the Chanonry. William Elphinstone
established a college dedicated to St Mary in the Nativity in
1495. It became
King?s College. Old
Aberdeen was established as a
Burgh of Barony
on 26 December
and had a small market.
Aberdeen or New Aberdeen was established by the time of King David I
St Nicholas Kirk, or the
Mither Kirk, is thought to originate from
and was one of the largest medieval burgh kirks in Scotland.
established a Merchant Guild in
1222 which through successive
enactments was created a powerful organisation whose influence was to shape the
life and fabric of Aberdeen. Aberdeen
Castle Hill, St Katherine?s Hill and Gallowgate Hill.
Castlegate was a commercial area from an early period. Alexander
I (1107-24) cited Aberdeen as one of 3 trading centres north of the Forth. By
the end of the medieval period Aberdeen was one of the wealthiest burghs in
Scotland. Education played an
important role in the life of New Aberdeen.
Marischal College was founded in
King?s College in Old Aberdeen and
Marischal College put Aberdeen on
the European map as an educational centre.
Unparalleled urban growth due to estate restructuring and industrialisation took
1660 and 1800
leading to pressure to expand the city beyond the tightly confined
Eleven new streets were opened or improved in the second half of the C18th and
early C19th century.
Marischal Street created a direct link between
Castlegate and the
quayside and demonstrated how Aberdeen?s hilly environment could be overcome. Further
bridging at the
Denburn and the setting out of
Union Street and King Street
freed up space for development along elegant planned streets. Expansion was
predominantly a result of private sector speculation by the Trades and through
the Land Association, later the
City of Aberdeen Land Association.
The original settlement
developed about the
Church of St Clements, rebuilt in
1828 by John Smith. It was
an area of industry and fishing.
Smith laid out the ?new town? of
Footdee at the
extreme East End of the harbour at
as two squares. Although Footdee (Fittie)
has always been a part of Aberdeen it has a distinctly different fisherfolk
Torry - Granted a Royal Charter by
King James IV in 1495, Torry developed from the late medieval period as a
fishing and industrial community. Torry and
played an important role in navigation and defence of Aberdeen?s harbour.
Torry Point Battery was built in
was joined to Aberdeen by the 1829
Wellington Suspension Bridge
Blyth?s 1881 Victoria Bridge.
It was incorporated with Old Aberdeen into the City of Aberdeen under
Aberdeen Video 1949
Aberdonia 1661 with Kings College inset on the top right. Castle Hill is at
the core of the map and Old Aberdeen at the top near the River Don two
distinctly separate burghs.
notions of the older Aberdeen are based on the map drawn by Parson James Gordon
of Rothiemay in 1661. The town had been much the same for the three centuries
before 1661, and did not change much until the beginning of the 19th century.
Parson Gordon observed that ?the most considerable part of the city stands on
three hills: the Castle Hill, St. Katherine?s Hill and the Gallowgate Hill?.
Aberdeen in 1661 had a population of only about 5,000, and consisted of about
sixteen streets, most of which had long back gardens which covered more ground
than did the streets and houses themselves. As the population expanded, these
gardens were them selves built on, resulting in considerable congestion and
squalor, and were accessed by courts, pends and closes cut through the original
house, e.g., Peacock?s Court in the Castlegate.
1661, there were no houses westwards of the Denburn, nor northwards of the
Loch, no Ferryhill or Rosemount, no Union St., King St., Marischal St., George
St., Market St. or Bridge St. There was the considerable elevation of
St. Katherine?s Hill, so-named after the chapel on its
summit dedicated to St.
Katherine of Siena. The chapel was founded in
was in ruins by 1661. St. Katherine?s Hill sloped down to the Netherkirkgate to
Putachieside (Carnegie?s Brae) to the west and to
Shiprow to the
south and east. St. Katherine?s Hill was obliterated during the construction of
Union St. and Market St; the Adelphi Court, built 1810, lies on its former
crest. The only remnant of St Katherine?s Chapel is a 15th century red sandstone
grave slab set in the north boundary wall behind No. 24 Adelphi. The name
lingers on in
St. Katherine?s Wynd, (then adjacent to E&M?s),
which descended from the Netherkirkgate to Shiprow. The circular route around
the former base of St. Katherine?s Hill is still apparent in the curve of
Shiprow, the Netherkirkgate and Carnegie?s Brae.
Topographically and historically complex area
Ships would navigate the Denburn
as far as Belmont Street
hence the name
James Gordon - Map of Aberdeen
The Loch to the north of Aberdeen was fed by burns flowing in from the north and
west and was the Burgh?s main source of fresh water; it also supplied three of
the Burgh?s many
such as that at
Evidently more water was being abstracted from the Loch than drained into it
because Parson Gordon depicts it as
?the Marsh formerly known as the Loch?.
the Loch had shrunk to about the area now covered by
it had disappeared completely. The area now known as the Loch lands became
George St., Charlotte St., St. Andrew St. and John St.
of Aberdeen 1888
- the old road into Aberdeen from the south, via the
Hardgate, Windmill Brae and through the Green.
The medieval place-name
?Trinity?, which goes back some
800 years on this site to the
Trinitarian or ?Red? Friars, to whom William the Lion
(reigned 1165?1214) is said to have granted his palace on the Green
for use as a Monastery. Later to become
Trinity Hospital - now being remembered as the
Trinity Centre. Otherwise the ancient name ?Trinity?
or Tarnty would remain only in
(behind the Tivoli Theatre) and
Trinity Lane, which runs from
Exchange Street across
Market Street to the
Shiprow. Windmill Brae, Back
Wynd, The Green, Netherkirkgate, Correction Wynd, Bellmo(u)nt St, and School
Hill all survive today.
The Harbour from the fields
of Torry - 1756 AD
In 1738 William Mosman returned to Scotland from Rome, where he had been
studying. This is a charming and simple painting of Aberdeen in the middle
of the 18th century. Some of the groups of people have been painted larger
than others. This allows us to see how the elegant ladies and salmon
fishers, working the estuary, would have looked in the 1750s. This painting
has obvious faults of perspective, which are surprising from an artist who
had studied in Italy for six years. Horses and carts, Coo's and grand wifies
abound in this idyllic scene with sailing ships and dingies in the Harbour
and but two church spires - St Nicholas and St Katherines? Sparse
housing visible from the heights of Balnagask.
Berryden from the Air - Later developed by the
Note that the Queens Links was the site of Aberdeen
Race Course clearly outlined and the Old Graving Dock is outlined on
Pedestrian Castlegate preserving the old Garreted
Structures and Shops beneath.
Aberdeen was a low rise city. The
city centre skyline sat only four storeys above street level at the most.
Post war the advent of Canadian Pre-fabricated homes meant to last but 10 years were erected
on various plots of land around the periphery of the town, as temporary Homes but these served the community for
as much as 30 years before being removed. This clearly was a Show House to
induce a move into bijou low rise living and a small garden. There was a
multifuel stove in the centre of the prefab which heated the water and the home
efficiently - shear luxury with a Kitchen, Bathroom and toilet
inside which were eagerly adopted by former draughty attic dwellers of the high
19th Century tenements with outside washrooms, coppers, and toilets.
This show home was erected in town centre as an inducement during the slum
clearances of the 1950's to depopulate the town centre slums for prompt
Fine Stone built semi detached
bungalow style house for around ?500 with ?40 down when a labourer would get
about that much for a years hard work.
clearance and city extension led to large 3 Bedroom Housing Developments in Torry, Powis,
Northfield, Garthdee, and Mastrick,