Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Aberdeen

Slightly overslept (surprising I know) and had to leg it to the train station to pick up my ticket and jump on a train for Aberdeen. Arrived to find it raining (even more surprising) but Aberdeen is a nice old town with lots of old granite buildings and a few cobblestone streets around the striking St Nicholas Kirkyard to explore. Followed some very confusing tourist signs that seemed to point around in circles but eventually, hidden behind an office building I found Provost Skene's house.

Sir George Skene was a merchant and Provost of Aberdeen in the 17th century (and is presumably on some far flung branch of the family tree somewhere). The housae itself dates from the 16th century, went through many changes of ownership, was used to billet Cumberland's troops on their march to Culloden and eventually became a public lodging house and fell into disrepair. It was nearly knocked down in the 1930s when the area was being cleaned up but the Queen Mother stepped in to save it and it was reopened by her in 1952 as a 'Period House ans Museum of Local Hisotory". It now has rooms decorated to reflect 17th and 18th century lifestyles, as well as regency and Edwardian rooms. The bedeoom has Sir George Skene's coat of arms worked into the ceiling and there is one room called the painted gallery which is entirely covered in paintings from the life of Christ which were discovered behind plaster walls during the buildings refurbishment.

Spent a little while exploring the older part of town around St Nicholas and strolled to Castlegate, the big old town square with the Mercat cross in the centre and hid for a while in a great second hand book store when it started to really rain. Found the art gallery which had a collection of works by Roy Goeke (maybe??) which were all really lifelike human figures but in the wrong size. The centre piece was an enormous sculpture of a new born baby girl that was about 5m long but somehow still completely real looking. Found yet another statue of William Wallace and then returned to Edinburgh.

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