A brief history of Old Aberdeen

Wrights and Coopers Place

Old Aberdeen is an ancient community with a history going back a thousand years. A completely independent town from New Aberdeen to the south until 1891, it retains a wonderful sense of history and an intriguing mixture of architecture, whilst parts of the street plan date from the medieval period. However, the appearance of Old Aberdeen also owes much to the developments of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The history of human occupation of this area has long roots: nearby there have been many finds dating from 4000BC and earlier, while Tillydrone Motte in Seaton Park has prehistoric origins.

Old Aberdeen can be divided into three reasonably distinct areas.

  • The oldest is the area around St Machar’s Cathedral, known as the Chanonry, which developed with the Cathedral from the 12-13th centuries.
  • From 1489 Old Aberdeen became a Burgh of Barony, by grant of a charter from James IV, after which the merchant area around the Town House developed.
  • The third area, the academic, developed after the foundation of King’s College in 1495.
(Map: Excerpt from Parson James Gordon map c1661 ©National Library of Scotland.
Text courtesy of Aberdeen Council leaflet ‘Old Aberdeen Trail’ obtainable from the tourist office in Broad Street and elsewhere).

Tourists and visitors to Old Aberdeen are encouraged to check out www.visit.oldaberdeen.org.uk which provides lots more information on what there is to see and to do in the area and identifies all the services locally available.

Old Aberdeen has been designated as a Conservation Area, the area of which closely follows the Community Council area.
The Conservation Area Character Appraisal for Old Aberdeen was updated and published in 2013 and can be found on the Aberdeen City Council website at:-
Old Aberdeen Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Plan
Strategic Overview – Conservation Area Character Appraisals and Management Plan
Appendices – Conservation Area Character Appraisals and Management Plan