May 29, 2016
Today I begin my Scottish adventure in Aberdeen, Scotland. Aberdeen is a short distance from Kincardine Castle, my home for the next few weeks. While I will be living in a castle, I came here to work. So I will be earning my keep by volunteering with Andrew and Nicola Bradford, owners of the Kincardine Estate.
But first, a little bit about Aberdeen from VisitAberdeen.com:
Aberdeen is located in North East Scotland between the River Dee and the River Don, and is the country’s third largest city. It is an ancient settlement and people have lived in the area for over 8,000 years. Days are long in June, with the sun setting after 10 PM and rising at around 4 AM. Golfers often play until 11 PM.
Aberdeen has a long, spectacular beach between the two rivers which turns into high sand dunes north of the Don stretching as far as Fraserburgh. To the south of the Dee are steep rocky cliffs and deep inlets making for spectacular scenery and good rock-climbing. It is one of Britain’s most spectacular coasts.
The earliest charter for the city was granted by William the Lion in 1179. In 1319, the Great Charter of Robert the Bruce transformed Aberdeen into a property-owning and financially independent community. Aberdeen was home to fishing, textile mills, shipbuilding, and paper making. In modern times, Aberdeen has driven the north east to the very top of the UK’s economic growth tables with high technology developments in the electronics design and development industry, food, life sciences and, obviously, the oil industry, powering an economic boom.
Kincardine Castle sits alongside the small village of Kincardine O’Neil. The village is small, but rich in history. As excerpted from Undiscovered Scotland:
Kincardine O’Neil has a long and illustrious history. It stands on the north bank of the River Dee and for centuries overlooked one of the most important fords across the Dee. The ford at Kincardine O’Neil was especially important because it lay on the direct route north from the Cairn O’Mount road. King David I brought an army across the Dee here in 1150. And in 1296, Edward I of England’s 35,000 strong army not only crossed the river here, they also camped around the village.
Kincardine O’Neil also attracted wealth with annual fairs when thousands of cattle were bought and sold over a three day period. On fair days peddlers descended on the village from far and wide, where they set up shop in the street and in the kirkyard. Fairs often descended into little more than drunken riots and it is said that residents often climbed onto their thatched roofs to get a better view of the fighting in the streets below. An effort in 1777 to clear the kirkyard of “cursing, lying, tricking, stealing, brawling, fighting and every indecency at every corner” on market days failed because surrounding residents wanted to boost their incomes by selling food and alcohol to the market day crowds.
On the eastern edge of the centre of the village is the attractive ruin of the Church of St Mary, built in the 1200s and in use until replaced in 1862 by the Parish Church.