By Elma McMenemy

ISBN-10: 0750951559

ISBN-13: 9780750951555

Aberdeen has been inhabited for 8,000 years, because the first Hunter-Gatherers settled at the banks of the River Dee. 4,000 years later, Bronze Age peoples left their mark at the panorama by means of developing a big variety of recumbent stone circles, as soon as considered locations of sacrifice. Invaders together with Celts, Romans and Vikings met violent, bloody resistance, and the triumphant Roman military left millions of Caledonian corpses for the crows following the conflict of Mons Graupius. From the slaughter of Aberdeen Castle's English garrison (part of a electorate' rebellion in aid of Robert the Bruce) to all-out attacks at the urban through Kings, Royalists and Nazis, no century has left the town unmarked. Plague, struggle, extended family feuds, murderers, witches, covenanters and slavers - all have stained the silver urban pink with blood!

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Perhaps they were boundary stones, marked the graves of important Pictish leaders, or had some ceremonial or ritual importance. They all have pictures or symbols carved on them, some also have intricate knotwork patterns and many had crosses added, often on the back of the stone, when the Picts embraced the Christian faith. On the outskirts of modern Aberdeen, at St Fergus Church, Dyce, several Pictish stones can be seen today. The oldest is about 1,500 years old and carved with a stylised animal symbol, usually described as an elephant because of its trunk-like nose.

This child, also Margaret and known as ‘The Maid of Norway’, was Alexander’s sole heir and only three years old when, in 1286, Alexander was thrown from his horse and killed. Margaret never saw Scotland, for she died in 1290 on board the ship carrying her from Norway to her kingdom and her agreed marriage to Edward I’s young son, Edward. For two years afterwards, Scotland was without a king, queen or ruler. The main contenders to be king were John Balliol and Robert Bruce, both descendants of David I.

Certainly, the place where he chose to settle and build his simple church was less than a mile from the North Sea and on land close to the River Don, where he is believed to have performed baptisms. Today, the Cathedral Church of St Machar stands on the same site. One of the world’s oldest granite cathedrals, most of the present building dates from the 1300s and early 1400s. It was here in Old Aberdeen, in 1495, that Bishop William Elphinstone founded a university for the north of Scotland. King’s College, named after King James IV who supported the university financially, was an important part of what became a prosperous burgh.

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Aberdeen by Elma McMenemy

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