There is a scandalous, and quite untrue, rumour that Aberdonians are mean. Those who come to work at RGU from outside the north-east occasionally mention having heard this (usually accompanied by jokes about the need for a spanner to get 50p bits off the city’s inhabitants), but once they are settled here, they discover that we are a warm and generous lot. Looking again, as per recent blogs, at the treasure trove that is the Annals of Aberdeen (covering the period from the 12th to the 19th centuries), we find that this has (usually) been the case.
For example, in the section on the weights and measures, I came across references to the “Aberdeen pint” and a number of other measures (for various types of grain, peas and beans), as well as the “Aberdeen plaiding,” the last named being a measure of length, broadly comparable to the English yard (36 inches – c. 91.5 cms) or the Scottish Ell (37 and a half inches – c. 95 cms).
Further investigation from 1661 local weights and measures were regulated by the burghs across Scotland, with some places having their names attached to specific measures. One of the most commonly used was the Stirling pint (or joug) for liquids, but in Aberdeen we did things differently. What the Annals actually say is as follows:
“The Aberdeen pint is 400 grains weightier than the Stirling jug … and contains 59 oz and 14 dr and 1/5th dram…The Aberdeen pint contains 60 oz, 12 drs and 4/5th of a dram.”
In other words, if you went into Ma Cameron’s back in the day (it’s reputedly the oldest pub in Aberdeen, going back over 300 years), then you were assured of more beer in your glass than if you went into its equivalent in most other parts of Scotland. Sadly, this is no longer the case, but that’s not a reason to shun any of the excellent licensed premises we have in Aberdeen.
Julie Skinner, Resourcing and Benefits Specialist (who actually prefers gin to be honest), RGU.