Aberdeen University

Nikki Moran (RCAHMS) – Aberdeen

Aberdeen ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Aberdeen ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Aberdeen: The Green

I am a Collections trainee based at RCAHMS as part of the Skills for The Future programme.  I obtained my undergraduate degree from Aberdeen University and lived in Aberdeen for almost 8 years.  The Green is a popular area in the centre of town and I know it well.  The Green’s interesting history has been revealed through a series of excavations.

Aerial photograph of Aberdeen’s Harbour taken in 1948. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1314739)

Aerial photograph of Aberdeen’s Harbour taken in 1948. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1314739)

The Green is situated near Aberdeen’s harbour and is one of the oldest known parts of the city. Archaeological excavations of the area revealed flints, used to make tools for fishing and hunting, which date back to about 8000 years ago.

In Medieval times it was in operation as an administrative and defensive point of entry to the city.  It also had a thriving religious community especially after the founding of the Carmelite Friary in 1273 when Carmelite friars settled here and made relationships with the local community.  Excavations were carried out in the 1980’s and 1990’s which revealed sections of the friary church foundations and areas where the friars would have lived.  Skeletons found through excavation are thought to have revealed the location of burials within the church and graveyard.  As you can see from the picture of Carmelite lane, below, the area has been completely built up over time and no physical remains of the church can be seen.

Aberdeen, Market Street,  View from South, showing Carmelite Lane. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1343754)

Aberdeen, Market Street,
View from South, showing Carmelite Lane. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1343754)

RCAHMS hold a collection of ink and pencil drawings relating to small finds from the excavations which one of the curatorial trainees has just recently catalogued.  The drawings were used for the publication “Three Scottish Carmelite friaries: excavations at Aberdeen, Linlithgow and Perth 1980-1986”, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland monograph series no
6 by J.A Stones which presents the results of excavations at similar friaries in Scotland.

This site is a great example of finding archaeology in our cities.  Aberdeen City Council have set up The Green Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) to tackle the problems of run down areas of historic significance and you can take part in The Green Trail,  a tour of areas of historical significance around the Green.  I would recommend paying a visit to the Green and while walking around just remember what was found beneath your feet and what may be found in the future.

This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.