Scotland Photos, Part 2: Old Aberdeen

Old Aberdeen – not to be confused with just plain Aberdeen, of which I shared some photos a few days ago – is a formerly independent town that is now part of the city of Aberdeen. Though nowadays, Old Aberdeen is less of an actual town and more of a big university campus, since it houses the main campus of the University of Aberdeen.

As university towns and campuses go, Old Aberdeen is strangely devoid of pubs, bars, cafés, shops, indeed any sort of commercial life, though they did have a Blackwell’s shop. When I wanted a cup of tea, I had to go into the university cafeteria. The students were some of the most conservative looking I’ve ever seen in the UK (or elsewhere for that matter), too. Several wore blazers with the university logo, for goodness sake.

Now different universities do tend to attract a different sort of student. For example, the students at the University of Vechta, where I taught for a while, were a much more conservative bunch than those at the University of Bremen, where I studied (which fits in with the fact that Vechta is smaller, rural and Catholic). In Vechta, punk or goth styles were a rare sight, in Bremen they were common. The Vechta students often seemed so nice and harmless (among others, I taught first semester undergraduates) that I was scared I’d shock them when discussing e.g. vulgarisms in a linguistics class. But compared to the students I saw in Aberdeen, the kids in Vechta were positively adventurous. It was kind of puzzling, really, particularly since British students, particularly the female ones, tend to dress more extremely than their German counterparts (which frequently leads to culture shock among German exchange students). It can’t be cultural differences between England and Scotland either, since students elsewhere in Scotland (e.g. Edinburgh) look a lot more like the British norm.

Coincidentally, the drunken young people and scantily clad women that tend to invade British (and Irish) city centres on the weekend were also conspicuously absent in Aberdeen. I saw a few, but far less than elsewhere.

And now some photos, not of students, but of buildings:

Old Aberdeen King's College

A statue of a lounging young man (that’s what this piece is actually called) with King’s College Chapel in the background.

Aberdeen King's College

The chapel of King’s College, built around 1500, shortly after the college was founded. The tower is topped with a stone replica of the Scottish crown.

Aberdeen - King's college

In front of the chapel, there is this sacrophagus/monument for Bishop Elphinstone, who founded King’s College and therefore the University of Aberdeen. There is no body inside this sacrophagus, the bishop is actually buried in the chapel.

Aberdeen King's College

The entrance to the King’s College quadrangle.

Aberdeen King's College

The new King’s College building, again with the statue of the lounging young man. As you can see, “new” is relative in this case.

Aberdeen - Powis Gates

This impressive 19th century structure is known as the Powis Gates and looks like something out of a fairy tale. Apparently, they once marked the entrance to a grand estate, but nowadays what lies beyond these gates is rather disappointing, namely a small park, a parking lot and yet more university buildings.

Aberdeen Old Town House

The Old Town House, built in the 18th century, used to be the town hall of Old Aberdeen. Nowadays, it’s yet another university building. In front of the Old Town House you can see yet another mercat cross.

Aberdeen St Machar's Cathedral

This massive medieval church is St Machar’s Cathedral. Apparently, there has been a Christian church on this spot since the 6th century, though the current building dates from the 14th century. Nowadays, the cathedral looks somewhat out of place, since it is located in the middle of a residential area.

Aberdeen - St Machar's Cathedral

The front of St Machar’s Cathedral. A fourth of Scottish rebel William Wallace is buried inside the cathedral. Since William Wallace was hung, drawn and quartered (literally) for high treason, his remains were buried in four parts in four different locations. And as if all that wasn’t bad enough, William Wallace had to suffer being portrayed by Mel Gibson in “Braveheart”, too.

Aberdeen St. Machar's church yard

The churchyard of St. Machar’s Cathedral with historic headstones.

Aberdeen St Machar's churchyard

St. Machar’s churchyard with a celtic cross headstone.

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8 Responses to Scotland Photos, Part 2: Old Aberdeen

  1. Sherwood says:

    Lovely photos!

  2. Lovely old buildings. Thanks for sharing. And I really enjoyed Scotland. We did a week long driving tour of Scotland about ten years ago.

  3. Estara says:

    Beautiful as always. Makes me nostalgic for my foreign language assistant time in Cambridgeshire.

    • Cora says:

      Glad you like them.

      Whereabouts in Cambridgeshire were you as a foreign language assistant?

      • Estara says:

        I was at the Comprehensive in St. Ives and at Ramsey Abbey School – so I first I lived in between those towns in Huntingdon. But that was quite dreary – especially the room, so after four months I moved to Cambridge, to a Mill Road shared house – they rent rooms to young professionals. Incredibly expensive, but Cambridge is such a beautiful town.

        • Cora says:

          Oh, I imagine that must have been lovely.

          And having spent my semester abroad in a little room under the roof of a vicarage house in Harlesden in North West London, I understand all about dreary rooms. Though I did my best to fix it up. Though the vicarage house itself was lovely and the environment was certainly interesting.

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