Checked content


Related subjects: British Cities; Great Britain

Background Information

SOS Children has tried to make Wikipedia content more accessible by this schools selection. A quick link for child sponsorship is

Coordinates: 57.1526°N 2.1100°W / 57.1526; -2.1100

Scottish Gaelic: Obar Dheathain
Scots: Aiberdeen
Granite City, Oil Capital of Europe,
Silver City, Grey City
UnionStreet-287149-Lyn Mcleod.jpg
Union Street, Aberdeen City Centre
Aberdeen is located in Scotland

 Aberdeen shown within Scotland
Population 213,810  2009 Mid-Year Estimate
    -  Density 
Language English
Scots ( Doric)
OS grid reference NJ925065
    - Edinburgh 94 mi (151 km)  
    - London 403 mi (649 km)  
Council area City of Aberdeen
Lieutenancy area Aberdeen
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ABERDEEN
Postcode district AB10-AB13 (part), AB15, AB16, AB22-AB25
Dialling code 01224
Police Grampian
Fire Grampian
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Aberdeen South
Aberdeen North
Scottish Parliament North East Scotland
Aberdeen Central
Aberdeen North
Aberdeen South
List of places

Aberdeen ( / æ b ər ˈ d n /; Scots: Aiberdeen listen; Scottish Gaelic: Obar Dheathain [ˈopər ˈʝɛhɪn]) is Scotland's third most populous city, one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas and the United Kingdom's 29th most populous city. It has an official population estimate of 217,100. Nicknames include the Granite City, the Grey City and the Silver City with the Golden Sands. During the mid-18th to mid-20th centuries, Aberdeen's buildings incorporated locally quarried grey granite, whose mica deposits sparkle like silver. The city has a long, sandy coastline. Since the discovery of North Sea oil in the 1970s, other nicknames have been the Oil Capital of Europe or the Energy Capital of Europe. The area around Aberdeen has been settled since at least 8,000 years ago, when prehistoric villages lay around the mouths of the rivers Dee and Don. In 1319, Aberdeen received Royal Burgh status from Robert the Bruce, transforming the city economically. The city's two universities, the University of Aberdeen, founded in 1495, and the Robert Gordon University, which was awarded university status in 1992, make Aberdeen the educational centre of the north-east. The traditional industries of fishing, paper-making, shipbuilding, and textiles have been overtaken by the oil industry and Aberdeen's seaport. Aberdeen Heliport is one of the busiest commercial heliports in the world and the seaport is the largest in the north-east of Scotland.

Aberdeen has won the Britain in Bloom competition a record-breaking ten times, and hosts the Aberdeen International Youth Festival, a major international event which attracts up to 1000 of the most talented young performing arts companies.


Aberdeen Mercat Cross
The Castlegate and Union Street (c.1900)

The Aberdeen area has seen human settlement for at least 8,000 years. The city began as two separate burghs: Old Aberdeen at the mouth of the river Don; and New Aberdeen, a fishing and trading settlement, where the Denburn waterway entered the river Dee estuary. The earliest charter was granted by William the Lion in 1179 and confirmed the corporate rights granted by David I. In 1319, the Great Charter of Robert the Bruce transformed Aberdeen into a property-owning and financially independent community. Granted with it was the nearby Forest of Stocket, whose income formed the basis for the city's Common Good Fund which still benefits Aberdonians. During the Wars of Scottish Independence, Aberdeen was under English rule, so Robert the Bruce laid siege to Aberdeen Castle before destroying it in 1308 followed by the massacring of the English garrison and the retaking of Aberdeen for the townspeople. The city was burned by Edward III of England in 1336, but was rebuilt and extended, and called New Aberdeen. The city was strongly fortified to prevent attacks by neighbouring lords, but the gates were removed by 1770. During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms of 1644-1647 the city was impartially plundered by both sides. In 1644, it was taken and ransacked by Royalist troops after the Battle of Aberdeen. In 1647 an outbreak of bubonic plague killed a quarter of the population. In the eighteenth century, a new Town Hall was built and the first social services appeared with the Infirmary at Woolmanhill in 1742 and the Lunatic Asylum in 1779. The council began major road improvements at the end of the century with the main thoroughfares of George Street, King Street and Union Street all completed at the start of the next century. A century later, the increasing economic importance of Aberdeen and the development of the shipbuilding and fishing industries led to the existing harbour with Victoria Dock, the South Breakwater, and the extension to the North Pier. The expensive infrastructure program had repercussions, and in 1817 the city was bankrupt. However, a recovery was made in the general prosperity which followed the Napoleonic wars. Gas street lighting arrived in 1824 and an enhanced water supply appeared in 1830 when water was pumped from the Dee to a reservoir in Union Place. An underground sewer system replaced open sewers in 1865. The city was first incorporated in 1891. Although Old Aberdeen still has a separate charter and history, it and New Aberdeen are no longer truly distinct. They are both part of the city, along with Woodside and the Royal Burgh of Torry to the south of the River Dee.


Old Aberdeen is the approximate location of Aberdon the first settlement of Aberdeen; this literally means "at the confluence of the Don [ie. with the sea]" in relation to the local river. The modern name Aberdeen literally means between the Dee (the other local river) and Don. The Celtic prefix; "Aber-" means "the confluence of" in relation to the rivers.

Gaelic scholars believe the name came from the prefix Aber- and da-aevi (variation;Da-abhuin, Da-awin) - which means "the mouth of two rivers". In Gaelic the name is Obar Dheathain (variation; Obairreadhain) and in Latin, the Romans referred to it as Devana. Mediaeval (or ecclesiastical) Latin has it as Aberdonia.


Aberdeen is locally governed by Aberdeen City Council, which comprises forty-three councillors who represent the city's wards and is headed by the Lord Provost who is currently Provost Peter Stephen.

From May 2003 until May 2007 the council was run by a Liberal Democrat and Conservatives coalition. Following the May 2007 elections the Liberal Democrats formed a new coalition with the Scottish National Party. In May 2007 the council consisted of: 15 Liberal Democrat, 13 SNP, 10 Labour, 4 Conservative councillors and a single independent councillor. After a SNP by election gain from the Conservatives on 16 August 2007, the Lib Dem/SNP coalition held 28 of the 43 seats). In August 2009 a councillor resigned from the Liberal Democrats and became an independent. The Conservative Group split in August 2010 with two councillors forming the Aberdeen Conservatives. All four Conservatives remain recognised as Conservatives by the party nationally.

Aberdeen is represented in the Parliament of the United Kingdom by three constituencies: Aberdeen North, Aberdeen South and Gordon, of which the first two are wholly within the Aberdeen City council area while the latter also encompasses a large swathe of Aberdeenshire.

In the Scottish Parliament the city is represented again by three constituencies, all of which are solely within the council area: Aberdeen North, Aberdeen Central and Aberdeen South and by a further seven MSPs elected as part of the North East Scotland electoral region.

In the European Parliament the city is represented by six MEPs as part of the all-inclusive Scotland constituency.


Aberdeen City from Docks

Symbols of the city typically show three castles, such as in the case of the flag and coat of arms. The image has been around since the time of Robert the Bruce and represents the buildings that stood on the three hills of Aberdeen; Aberdeen Castle on Castle Hill (today's castlegate); an unknown building on Windmill Hill and a church on St. Catherine's Hill (now levelled).

"Bon Accord" is the motto of the city and is French literally for "Good Agreement". Legend tells that its use dates from the fourteenth century password used by Robert the Bruce during the Wars of Scottish Independence, when he and his men laid siege to Aberdeen Castle before destroying it in 1308.

The leopard has traditionally been associated with the city and its emblem can be seen on the city crest. The local magazine is called the "Leopard" and, when Union Bridge was constructed in the nineteenth century, small statues of the creature in a sitting position were cast and placed on top of the railing posts (known locally as Kelly's Cats).

The city's toast is "Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again"; this has been commonly misinterpreted as the translation of Bon Accord.


Being sited between two river mouths, the city has little natural exposure of bedrock. This leaves local geologists in a slight quandary : despite the high concentration of geoscientists in the area (courtesy of the oil industry), there is only a vague understanding of what underlays the city. To the south side of the city, coastal cliffs expose high-grade metamorphic rocks of the Grampian Group; to the south-west and west are extensive granites intruded into similar high-grade schists; to the north the metamorphics are intruded by gabbroic complexes instead. And under the city itself? The small amount of geophysics done, and occasional building-related exposures, combined with small exposures in the banks of the River Don, suggest that it's actually sited on an inlier of Devonian "Old Red" sandstones and silts. The outskirts of the city spread beyond the (inferred) limits of the outlier onto the surrounding metamorphic/ igneous complexes formed during the Dalradian period (approximately 480-600 million years ago) with sporadic areas of igneous Diorite granites to be found, such as that at the Rubislaw quarry which was used to build much of the Victorian parts of the city.

On the coast, Aberdeen has a long sand beach between the two rivers, the Dee and the Don, which turns into high sand dunes north of the Don stretching as far as Fraserburgh ; to the south of the Dee are steep rocky cliff faces with only minor pebble and shingle beaches in deep inlets. A number of granite outcrops along the south coast have been quarried in the past, making for spectacular scenery and good rock-climbing.

The city extends to 184.46 km² (71.22 sq mi), and includes the former burghs of Old Aberdeen, New Aberdeen, Woodside and the Royal Burgh of Torry to the south of River Dee. In 2010 this gave the city a population density of 1,169 / km². The city is built on many hills, with the original beginnings of the city growing from Castle Hill, St. Catherine's Hill and Windmill Hill.



Aberdeen features an oceanic climate ( Köppen Cfb). Aberdeen is far milder than one might expect for its northern location. During the winter, especially throughout December, the length of the day is very short, averaging 6 hours and 40 minutes between sunrise and sunset at the Winter Solstice. As winter progresses, the length of the day grows fairly quickly, to 8 hours and 20 minutes by the end of January. As summer begins, the days will be around 18 hours long, having 17 hours and 57 minutes between sunrise and sunset, with Nautical Twilight lasting the entire night. Temperatures at this time of year will be hovering around 17 °C during the day.

Climate data for Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 17
Average high °C (°F) 6
Average low °C (°F) 0
Record low °C (°F) −18
Precipitation cm (inches) 6.3
Source: Weatherbook Met Office


Aberdeen demographics

In 1396 the population was about 3,000. By 1801 it had become 26,992; (1901) 153,503; (1941) 182,467. In 2001 the UK census records the Aberdeen City Council area's population at 212,125, but the Aberdeen locality's population at 184,788. The latest official population estimate, for 2010, is 217,100. Data from the Aberdeen specific locality of the 2001 UK census shows that the demographics include a median male age of 35 and female age of 38, which are younger than Scotland's average and a 49% to 51% male-to-female ratio.

The census showed that there are fewer young people in Aberdeen, with 16.4% under 16, opposed to the national average of 19.2%. Ethnically, 15.7% were born outside of Scotland, higher than the national average of 12.9%. Of this population 8.4% were born in England. 3% of Aberdonians stated to be from an ethnic minority (non-white) in the 2001 census, with 0.7% from the Indian-subcontinent and 0.6% Asian; in comparison, Scotland's overall population of non-white origin is 2%. This is a lower percentage than any of Scotland's other three main cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee. The most multicultural part of the city is George Street, which has many ethnic restaurants, supermarkets and hairdressers.

In the household, there were 97,013 individual dwellings recorded in the city of which 61% were privately owned, 9% privately rented and 23% rented from the council. The most popular type of dwellings are apartments which compromise 49% of residences followed by semi-detached at just below 22%. The median income of a household in the city is £16,813 (the mean income is £20,292) (2005) which places approximately 18% households in the city below the poverty line (defined as 60% of the mean income). Conversely, an Aberdeen postcode has the second highest number of millionaires of any postcode in the UK.


St Machar's Cathedral

Traditionally Christian, Aberdeen's largest denominations are the Church of Scotland (through the Presbytery of Aberdeen) and the Catholic Church. The last census revealed that Aberdeen is the least religious city in Scotland, with nearly 43 % of people claiming to have no religion and several former churches in the city have been converted into bars and restaurants.

In the Middle Ages, the Kirk of St Nicholas was the only burgh kirk and one of Scotland's largest parish churches. Like a number of other Scottish kirks, it was subdivided after the Reformation, in this case into the East and West churches. At this time, the city also was home to houses of the Carmelites (Whitefriars) and Franciscans (Greyfriars), the latter of which surviving in modified form as the chapel of Marischal College as late as the early twentieth Century.

St Machar's Cathedral was formed twenty years after David I (1124–53) transferred the pre-Reformation Diocese from Mortlach in Banffshire to Old Aberdeen in 1137. With the exception of the episcopate of William Elphinstone (1484–1511), building progressed slowly. Gavin Dunbar, who followed him in 1518, completed the structure by adding the two western spires and the southern transept.

St. Mary's Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Cathedral in Gothic style, erected in 1859.

St. Andrew's Cathedral is the Scottish Episcopal Cathedral, constructed in 1817 as Archibald Simpson's first commission. It is notable for having consecrated the first bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

The Salvation Army citadel dominates the east end of Union Street.

There is a Unitarian Church, established in 1833 in Skene Terrace, near Union Street.

Christadelphians have been present in Aberdeen since at least 1844. Over the years, they have rented space to meet at a number of locations: the West Room of the Music Hall (for over 120 years); the Cowdry Club; the YWCA in Bon Accord Crescent. Today they meet in the Inchgarth Community Centre in Gathdee.

There are two meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

There is also an Islamic Mosque in Old Aberdeen and an Orthodox Jewish Synagogue established in 1945. There are no formal Buddhist or Hindu buildings. The University of Aberdeen has a small Bahá'í society.

There is also a Quaker meetinghouse on Crown street, the only purpose built Quaker House in Scotland that is still in use today.


Donside Paper Mill under demolition, 15 February 2006
Oil and Gas Drilling rig
The Aberdeen Coast
Belmont Street Farmers Market

Traditionally, Aberdeen was home to fishing, textile mills, shipbuilding and paper making. These industries have been largely replaced. High technology developments in the electronics design and development industry, research in agriculture and fishing and the oil industry, which has been largely responsible for Aberdeen's economic boom in the last three decades, are now major parts of Aberdeen's economy.

Until the 1970s, most of Aberdeen's leading industries dated from the eighteenth Century; mainly these were textiles, foundry work, shipbuilding and paper-making, the oldest industry in the city, with paper having been first made there in 1694. Paper-making has reduced in importance since the closures of Donside Paper Mill in 2001 and the Davidson Mill in 2005 leaving the Stoneywood Paper Mill with a workforce of approximately 500. Textile production ended in 2004 when Richards of Aberdeen closed.

Grey granite was quarried at Rubislaw quarry for more than 300 years, and used for paving setts, kerb and building stones, and monumental and other ornamental pieces. Aberdeen granite was used to build the terraces of the Houses of Parliament and Waterloo Bridge in London. Quarrying finally ceased in 1971.

Fishing was once the predominant industry, but was surpassed by deep-sea fisheries, which derived a great impetus from improved technologies throughout the twentieth Century. Catches have fallen due to overfishing and the use of the harbour by oil support vessels, and so although still an important fishing port it is now eclipsed by the more northerly ports of Peterhead and Fraserburgh. The Fisheries Research Services are headquartered in Aberdeen, and there is a marine research lab in Torry.

Aberdeen is well regarded for the agricultural and soil research carried out at The Macaulay Institute, which has close links to the city's two universities. The Rowett Research Institute is a world-renowned research centre for studies into food and nutrition located in Aberdeen. It has produced three Nobel laureates and there is a high concentration of life scientists working in the city.

There is also a dynamic and fast growing electronics design and development industry.

With the discovery of significant oil deposits in the North Sea during the late twentieth century, Aberdeen became the centre of Europe's petroleum industry. With the second largest heliport in the world and an important service ship harbour port serving oil rigs off-shore, Aberdeen is often called the Oil Capital of Europe.

There is now a concerted effort to transform Aberdeen's reputation as the Oil Capital of Europe into the Energy Capital of Europe as oil supplies may start to dwindle in coming years, and there is considerable interest in the development of new energy sources; and technology transfer from oil into renewable energy and other industries is under way. The "Energetica" initiative led by Scottish Enterprise has been designed to accelerate this process.

The city ranks third in Scotland for shopping. The traditional shopping streets are Union Street and George Street, now complemented by shopping centres, notably the St Nicholas & Bon Accord and the Trinity Shopping Centre. A new retail £190 million development, Union Square, reached completion in late September/early October 2009. Major retail parks away from the city centre include the Berryden Retail Park, the Kittybrewster Retail Park and the Beach Boulevard Retail Park.

In March 2004, Aberdeen was awarded Fairtrade City status by the Fairtrade Foundation. Along with Dundee, it shares the distinction of being the first city in Scotland to receive this accolade.


Aberdeen's architecture is known for its principal use during the Victorian era of granite, which has led to its local nickname of the Granite City or more romantically the less commonly used name the Silver City, since the Mica in the stone sparkles in the sun. The hard grey stone is one of the most durable materials available and helps to explain why the city's buildings look brand-new when they have been newly cleaned and the cement has been pointed. Unlike other Scottish cities where sandstone has been used, the buildings are not weathering and need very little structural maintenance on their masonry.

Granite terrace in central Aberdeen

Amongst the notable buildings in the city's main street, Union Street, are the Town and County Bank, the Music Hall, the Trinity Hall of the incorporated trades (originating between 1398 and 1527), now a shopping mall; the former office of the Northern Assurance Company, and the National Bank of Scotland. In Castle Street, a continuation eastwards of Union Street, is the new Town House, a very prominent landmark in Aberdeen, built between 1868 and 1873 to a design by Peddie and Kinnear.

The West Tower of the new Town House, 1868-73

Alexander Marshall Mackenzie's extension to Marischal College on Broad Street, opened by King Edward VII in 1906, created the second largest granite building in the world (after the Escorial, Madrid).

Union Terrace Gardens
On Union Terrace, Robert Burns, 1892 bronze by Henry Bain Smith

In addition to the many fine landmark buildings, Aberdeen has many prominent public statues, two of the most notable being William Wallace at the junction between Union Terrace and Rosemount Viaduct, and Robert Burns on Union Terrace, above Union Terrace Gardens.

Parks, Gardens and Open spaces

Duthie Park Winter Gardens
Aberdeen Beach

Aberdeen has long been famous for its 45 outstanding parks and gardens, and citywide floral displays which include two million roses, eleven million daffodils and three million crocuses. The city has won the Royal Horticultural Society's Britain in Bloom 'Best City' award ten times, the overall Scotland in Bloom competition twenty times and the large city category every year since 1968. At one point after winning a period of nine years straight, Aberdeen was banned from the Britain in Bloom competition to give another city a chance. The city won the 2006 Scotland in Bloom "Best City" award along with the International Cities in Bloom award. The suburb of Dyce also won the Small Towns award.

Duthie Park opened in 1899 on the north bank of the River Dee. It was named after and gifted to the city by Miss Elizabeth Crombie Duthie of Ruthrieston in 1881. It has extensive gardens, a rose hill, boating pond, bandstand, and play area as well as Europe's second largest enclosed gardens the David Welch Winter Gardens. Hazlehead Park, is large and forested, located on the outskirts of the city, it is popular with walkers in the forests, sports enthusiasts, naturalists and picnickers. There are football pitches, two golf courses, a pitch and putt course and a horse riding school.

Aberdeen's success in the Britain in Bloom competitions is often attributed to Johnston Gardens, a small park of one hectare in the west end of the city containing many different flowers and plants which have been renowned for their beauty. The garden was in 2002, named the best garden in the British Islands.

Seaton Park, formerly the grounds of a private house, is on the edge of the grounds of St Machar's Cathedral. The Cathedral Walk is maintained in a formal style with a great variety of plants providing a popular display. The park includes several other areas with contrasting styles to this.

Union Terrace Gardens opened in 1879 and is situated in the centre of the city. It covers 2.5 acres (10,000 m2) in the centre of Aberdeen bordered on three sides by Union Street, Union Terrace and Rosemount Viaduct. The park forms a natural amphitheatre located in the Denburn Valley and is an oasis of peace and calm in the city centre. A recent proposal to build a three storey concrete and steel superstructure in place of the gardens, part of which will provide a commercial concourse, has proved highly controversial.

Situated next to each other, Victoria Park and Westburn Park cover 26 acres (110,000 m2) between them. Victoria Park opened in 1871. There is a conservatory used as a seating area and a fountain made of fourteen different granites, presented to the people by the granite polishers and master builders of Aberdeen. Opposite to the north is Westburn Park opened in 1901. With large grass pitches it is widely used for field sports. There is large tennis centre with indoor and outdoor courts, a children's cycle track, play area and a grass boules lawn.


Aberdeen Railway Station

Aberdeen Airport (ABZ), at Dyce in the north of the city, serves a number of domestic and international destinations including France, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Ireland and Scandinavian countries. The heliport which serves the oil industry and rescue services is one of the busiest commercial heliports in the world.

Aberdeen railway station is on the main UK rail network and has frequent direct trains to major cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, including the overnight Caledonian Sleeper train. The station is currently being updated to bring it into the modern age. In 2007 additions were made and a new ticket office was built in the building.

Until 2007, a 1950s-style concrete bus station at Guild Street served out-of-the-city locations; it has since transferred to a new and well-presented bus station just 100 metres to the east off Market Street as part of the Union Square development.

There are six major roads in and out of the city. The A90 is the main arterial route into the city from the north and south, linking Aberdeen to Edinburgh, Dundee, Brechin and Perth in the south and Ellon, Peterhead and Fraserburgh in the north. The A96 links to Elgin and Inverness and the north west. The A93 is the main route to the west, heading towards Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms. After Braemar, it turns south, providing an alternative tourist route to Perth. The A944 also heads west, through Westhill and on to Alford. The A92 was the original southerly road to Aberdeen prior to the building of the A90, and is now used as a tourist route, connecting the towns of Montrose and Arbroath and on the east coast. The A947 exits the city at Dyce and goes on to Newmachar, Oldmeldrum and Turriff finally ending at Banff and Macduff.

Aberdeen Harbour is important as the largest in the north of Scotland and as a ferry route to Orkney and Shetland. Established in 1136, it has been referred to as the oldest business in Britain.

FirstGroup operates the city buses under the name First Aberdeen, as the successor of Grampian Regional Transport (GRT) and Aberdeen Corporation Tramways. Aberdeen is the global headquarters of FirstGroup plc, having grown from the GRT Group. First is still based at the former Aberdeen Tramways depot on King Street, soon to be redeveloped into a new Global Headquarters and Aberdeen bus depot.

Stagecoach Group also run buses in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, under the Stagecoach Bluebird brand. Other bus companies (e.g. Megabus) run buses from the bus station to places north and south of the city.

Aberdeen is connected to the UK National Cycle Network, and has a track to the south connecting to cities such as Dundee and Edinburgh and one to the north that forks about 10 miles from the city into two different tracks heading to Inverness and Fraserburgh respectively. Two particularly popular footpaths along old railway tracks are the Deeside Way to Banchory (which will eventually connect to Ballater) and the Formartine and Buchan Way to Ellon, both used by a mixture of cyclists, walkers and occasionally horses. Four park-and-ride sites serve the city: Stonehaven and Ellon (approx 12–17 miles out from the city centre) and Kingswells and Bridge of Don (approx 3–4 miles out).


University of Aberdeen, Elphinstone Hall
King's College, Old Aberdeen

Universities and colleges

Aberdeen has two universities, the University of Aberdeen and The Robert Gordon University. Aberdeen's student rate of 11.5% is higher than the national average of 7%.

The University of Aberdeen began as King's College, Aberdeen, which was founded in 1495 by William Elphinstone (1431–1514), Bishop of Aberdeen and Chancellor of Scotland. Marischal College, a separate institution, was founded in "New" Aberdeen by George Keith, fifth Earl Marischal of Scotland in 1593. These institutions were amalgamated to form the present University of Aberdeen in 1860. The university is the fifth oldest in the English speaking world.

Robert Gordon's College (originally Robert Gordon's Hospital) was founded in 1729 by the merchant Robert Gordon, grandson of the map maker Robert Gordon of Straloch, and was further endowed in 1816 by Alexander Simpson of Collyhill. Originally devoted to the instruction and maintenance of the sons of poor burgesses of guild and trade in the city, it was reorganised in 1881 as a day and night school for secondary and technical education. In 1903, the vocational education component of the college was designated a Central Institution and was renamed as the Robert Gordon Institute of Technology in 1965. In 1992, university status was gained and it became the Robert Gordon University.

Aberdeen is also home to two artistic schools: Gray's School of Art, founded in 1886, which is one of the oldest established colleges of art in the UK, and is now incorporated into Robert Gordon University; and The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and The Built Environment, which is situated on the Garthdee Campus of the Robert Gordon University, next to Gray's School of Art.

Aberdeen College has several campuses in the city and offers a wide variety of part-time and full-time courses leading to several different qualifications in science. It is the largest further education institution in Scotland.

The Scottish Agricultural College is based just outside Aberdeen, on the Craibstone Estate. This is situated beside the roundabout for Aberdeen Airport on the A96. The college provides three services - Learning, Research and Consultancy. The college features many land based courses such as Agriculture, Countryside Management, Sustainable Environmental Management and Rural Business Management. There are a variety of courses from diplomas through to masters degrees.


There are currently 12 secondary schools and 54 primary schools which are run by the city council. The most notable are Aberdeen Grammar School (founded in 1257), Harlaw Academy, Cults Academy, and Oldmachar Academy which were all rated in the top 50 Scottish secondary schools league tables published by The Times in 2005. Harlaw Academy was taken down from the list after a short time but is still a popular school.

There are a number of private schools in Aberdeen; Robert Gordon's College, Albyn School for Girls (co-educational as of 2005), St Margaret's School for Girls, the Hamilton School (a Montessori school), the Total French School (for French oil industry families), the International School of Aberdeen and a Waldorf/Steiner School.

Primary schools in Aberdeen include Airyhall Primary School, Albyn School, Ashley Road Primary School, Cornhill Primary School (the city's largest), Culter Primary School, Danestone Primary School, Ferryhill Primary School, Gilcomstoun Primary School, Glashieburn Primary School, Hamilton School, Kingsford Primary School, Mile-End School, Robert Gordon's College, Skene Square Primary School, St. Joseph’s Primary School and St Margaret's School for Girls.


His Majesty's Theatre
Looking down Shiprow with Provost Ross's house on the right
Aberdeen buildings grey.JPG

The city has a wide range of cultural activities, amenities and museums. The city is regularly visited by Scotland's National Arts Companies. The Aberdeen Art Gallery houses a collection of Impressionist, Victorian, Scottish and twentieth Century British paintings as well as collections of silver and glass. It also includes The Alexander Macdonald Bequest, a collection of late nineteenth century works donated by the museum's first benefactor and a constantly changing collection of contemporary work and regular visiting exhibitions.

Museums and galleries

The Aberdeen Maritime Museum, located in Shiprow, tells the story of Aberdeen's links with the sea from the days of sail and clipper ships to the latest oil and gas exploration technology. It includes an 8.5 m (28 feet) high model of the Murchison oil production platform and a nineteenth century assembly taken from Rattray Headlighthouse.

Provost Ross' House is the second oldest dwelling house in the city. It was built in 1593 and became the residence of Provost John Ross of Arnage in 1702. The house retains some original medieval features, including a kitchen, fire places and beam-and-board ceilings. The Gordon Highlanders Museum tells the story of one of Scotland's best known regiments.

Marischal Museum holds the principal collections of the University of Aberdeen, comprising some 80,000 items in the areas of fine art, Scottish history and archaeology, and European, Mediterranean & Near Eastern archaeology. The permanent displays and reference collections are augmented by regular temporary exhibitions.

Performing arts

Aberdeen is home to a host of events and festivals including the Aberdeen International Youth Festival (the world's largest arts festival for young performers), Aberdeen Jazz Festival, Rootin' Aboot (folk and roots music event based at the Lemon Tree), Triptych, and the University of Aberdeen's literature festival Word.

The Aberdeen Student Show, performed annually without interruption since 1921, under the auspices of the Aberdeen Students' Charities Campaign, is the longest-running of its kind in the United Kingdom. It is written, produced and performed by students and graduates of Aberdeen's institutes of tertiary education, and since 1929 - other than on a handful of occasions - has been staged at His Majesty's Theatre. The Student Show traditionally combines comedy and music, inspired by the North-East's Doric dialect and humour.

Music and film

Aberdeen's music scene includes a variety of live music venues including pubs, clubs, and church choirs. The bars of Belmont Street are particularly known for featuring live music. Cèilidhs are also common in the city's halls. The many popular venues include The Moorings, The Lemon Tree, Drummonds, Moshulu (now owned by Barfly), Snafu, The Tunnels, the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, and Aberdeen Music Hall.

Notable Aberdonian musicians include Evelyn Glennie, Ronnie McLeod (trumpeter and bandleader), cult band Pallas, Richard Head Band (Rock), Abba Elite (Tribute band) Annie Lennox. Contemporary composers John McLeod and Martin Dalby also hail from Aberdeen.

The first and only Doric speaking feature film by Stirton Productions and Canny Films was released in 2008. 'One Day Removals' starring Patrick Wight and Scott Ironside tells the tale of two unlucky removal men whose day goes from bad to worse. Filmed on location in Aberdeenshire for a budget of £60,000, it is a black comedy/adult drama.

Cultural cinema, educational work and local film events are provided by The Belmont Picturehouse on Belmont Street, Peacock Visual Arts and The Foyer.


Listen to recordings of a speaker of Scots from Aberdeen

The local dialect of Lowland Scots is often known as Doric, and is spoken not just in the city, but across the north-east of Scotland. It differs somewhat from other Scots dialects most noticeable are the pronunciation f for what is normally written wh and ee for what in standard English would usually be written oo (Scots ui). Every year the annual Doric Festival takes place in Aberdeenshire to celebrate the history of the north-east's language. As with all Scots dialects in urban areas, it is not spoken as widely as it used to be in Aberdeen.


Pittodrie's Dick Donald Stand


The Scottish Premier League football club, Aberdeen F.C. play at Pittodrie. The club won the European Cup Winners Cup and the European Super Cup in 1983 and the Scottish Premier League Championship four times (1955, 1980, 1984 and 1985), the Scottish Cup seven times (1947, 1970, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1990). Under Sir Alex Ferguson, they were a major force in British football during the 1980s.

The other senior team is Cove Rangers F.C. of the Highland Football League (HFL), who play at Allan Park in the suburb of Cove Bay, although they will be moving to Calder Park once it is built to boost their chances of getting into the Scottish Football League. Cove won the HFL championship in 2001 and 2008.

There was also a historic senior team Bon Accord F.C. who no longer play. Local junior teams include Banks O' Dee F.C., Culter F.C., F.C. Stoneywood, Glentanar F.C. and Hermes F.C..

Granite City Stormers, a gay football club, was founded in Aberdeen in 2008.

Rugby Union

Aberdeen hosted Caledonia Reds a Scottish rugby team, before they merged with the Glasgow Warriors in 1998. The city is also home to the BT Premiership Division Two rugby club Aberdeen GSFP RFC who play at Rubislaw Playing Fields, and Aberdeenshire RFC which was founded in 1875 and runs Junior, Senior Mens, Senior Ladies and Touch sections from the Woodside Sports Complex and also Aberdeen Wanderers RFC. Former Wanderers' player Jason White was captain of the Scotland national rugby union team.

In 2005 the President of the SRU said it was hoped eventually to establish a professional team in Aberdeen. In November 2008 the city hosted a rugby international at Pittodrie between Scotland and Canada, with Scotland winning 41-0.


The Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, founded in 1780 and the oldest golf club in Aberdeen, hosted the Senior British Open in 2005. The club has a second course, and there are public golf courses at Auchmill, Balnagask, Hazlehead and King's Links. The 1999 winner of The Open Championship, Paul Lawrie, hails from the city.

There are new courses planned for the area, including world class facilities with major financial backing, the city and shire are set to become a hotbed for golf tourism.

Donald Trump is building his new state of the art golf course out beside Balmedie.


The City of Aberdeen Swim Team (COAST) is based in Northfield swimming pool and has been in operation since 1996. The team comprises several smaller swimming clubs, and has enjoyed success throughout Scotland and in international competitions. Three of the team's swimmers qualified for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.


Rowing exists on the River Dee, south of the town centre. Four clubs are located on the banks: Aberdeen Boat Club (ABC), Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association (ASRA), Aberdeen University Boat Club (AUBC) and Robert Gordon University Boat Club (RGUBC).


Aberdeen boasts a large cricket community with 4 local leagues operating that comprise of a total of 25 clubs fielding 36 teams. The city has two national league sides, Aberdeenshire, and Stoneywood-Dyce. Local 'Grades' cricket has been played in Aberdeen since 1884. Aberdeenshire recently became the 2009 Scottish National Premier League and Scottish Cup Champions


Aberdeen Oilers Floorball Club was founded in 2007. The club initially attracted a range of experienced Scandinavian and other European players who were studying in Aberdeen. Since their formation, Aberdeen Oilers have played in the British Floorball Northern League and went on to win the league in the 2008/09 season. The club played a major role in setting up a ladies league in Scotland. The Oiler's ladies team ended up 2nd in the first ladies league season (2008/09).

Other sports

The city council operates public tennis courts in various parks including an indoor tennis centre at Westburn Park. The Beach Leisure Centre is home to a climbing wall, gymnasium and a swimming pool. There are numerous swimming pools dotted around the city notably the largest, the Bon-Accord Baths which closed down in 2006. Aberdeen has numerous skateparks dotted around the city in Torry, Westburn Park and Transition Extreme. Transition Extreme is an indoor skatepark built in 2007 it was designed by Aberdeen skate legend Andy Dobson. Aberdeen City council also have an Outdoor Education service which is now known as adventure aberdeen, that provides abseiling, surfing, white water rafting, gorge walking, kayaking and open canoeing, mountaineering, sailing, mountain biking and rock climbing. They inspire learning through adventure and have many programs for children and adults.

Public services

Aberdeen's health is provided for most people by NHS Scotland through the NHS Grampian health board. Aberdeen Royal Infirmary is the main hospital in the city, with the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital for children, the Royal Cornhill Hospital for mental health and the Woodend Hospital and Woolmanhill Hospitals.

Privately there is the Albyn Hospital on Albyn Place which is owned and operated by BMI Healthcare.

Aberdeen City Council is responsible for city owned infrastructure which is paid for by a mixture of council tax and income from HM Treasury. Infrastructure and services run by the council include: clearing snow in winter, maintaining parks, refuse collection, sewage, street cleaning and street lighting. Infrastructure in private hands includes electricity, gas and telecoms. Water supplies are provided by Scottish Water.

  • Police: Policing in Aberdeen is the responsibility of Grampian Police (the British Transport Police has responsibility for railways). The Grampian Police headquarters (and Aberdeen divisional headquarters) is located in Queen Street, Aberdeen.
  • Ambulance: The North East divisional headquarters of the Scottish Ambulance Service is located in Aberdeen.
  • Fire and rescue: This is the responsibility of the Grampian Fire and Rescue Service; the service operates distinctive white painted fire engines (other UK fire brigades use red vehicles).
  • Lifeboat: The Royal National Lifeboat Institution operates Aberdeen lifeboat station. It is located at Victoria Dock Entrance in York Place. The current building was opened in 1997.

Twin cities

Aberdeen is twinned with:

  • Germany - Regensburg, Germany (1955)
  • France - Clermont-Ferrand, France (1983)
  • Zimbabwe - Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (1986)
  • Norway - Stavanger, Norway (1990)
  • Belarus - Gomel, Belarus (1990)

Notable people

  • Paul Lawrie, the Open winning golfer
  • Annie Lennox is from Ellon a nearby town, musician
  • Simon Farquhar, writer
  • Denis Law, football player
  • Nicol Stephen, former Scottish Liberal Democrats leader, former Deputy First Minister of Scotland
  • Michael Gove, cabinet minister
  • Andrew Cruickshank, actor famous for his role in Dr Finlay's Casebook
  • Thomas Blake Glover
  • James Gibbs, 18th century architect
  • George Jamesone, Scotland's first eminent painter
  • Bertie Charles Forbes (from Aberdeenshire), founded Forbes
  • Stanley Robertson, singer and storyteller
  • Archibald Simpson, architect, influential in design of Aberdeens's modern centre
  • Scott Booth, former striker for Aberdeen F.C. and the Scottish national football team
  • Professor Sir C. Duncan Rice, historian and Principal of the University of Aberdeen
  • John Rattray, professional skateboarder who appeared in the 2007 video game Skate
  • Calvin Goldspink, actor and singer; former member of S Club Juniors; attended Cults Academy
  • Colin Angus, musician and founder of the band The Shamen which had several UK chart hits during the nineties and received international acclaim.
Retrieved from ""