A Brief History of Aberdeen

May 1, 2018

Aberdeen, the Granite City – a place of industry; synonymous with the belching fumes of oil drilling and a bustling port playing host to ships from across the globe.

Tucked away on Scotland’s eastern coast, Aberdeen bears the brunt of the North Sea weather, but don’t let that put you off this culturally diverse and historically engaging city.

The city was once no city at all, but rather twin burghs, growing and expanding in close proximity until their boundaries met and the modern incarnation of Aberdeen was formed.

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Old Aberdeen was the home of the city’s cultural district; museums and universities started life along the banks of the River Don. Meanwhile, the trading port of New Aberdeen was a home to commerce and the area’s prosperous North Sea fishing industry.

Human habitation, as in much of Scotland, can be traced back to the Stone Age – a time when tribes roamed the Highlands before the arrival of the Roman legions in 1AD.

The settlements that would one day become Aberdeen first began to appear around the 8th century, and by the 12th the area had grown into a lively fishing town.

Aberdeen was relatively large for its time. At its heart was a buzzing market where the day’s catch was hawked alongside leather and dyed woollens.

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As the centuries passed, the city played a vital role in the Wars for Independence. The citizens of Aberdeen harboured the legendary Robert the Bruce and ransacked the English castle in his name. Retribution came later in 1336 when the English returned to set the city ablaze.

Aberdeen continued to prosper despite these setbacks. New townhouses sprung up across the city, earning the moniker of the ‘Granite City’. As industry took hold, so too did new developments to the harbour and portside, improving the dockyards for shipbuilding and the loading and unloading of the North Sea fishing fleet.

The two burghs finally merged in 1891 as Aberdeen earned its first city incorporation.

Throughout the 20th century, Aberdeen continued to flourish. Despite the gradual shift in industry away from the likes of shipbuilding, new avenues of income emerged in the oil and tourism trades.

Nowadays, Aberdeen is still an important harbour hub in European trade. The city itself, meanwhile, has embraced the modern age, and its long history and richness of impressive architecture have fed a steady and ever-expanding tourism trade.

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