Annals of Aberdeen cover

If you were with me last time, you will, I hope, recall that I have been trawling through the “Annals of Aberdeen,” an historical record of the city from the reign of King William the Lion (c. 1142 – 1214) to the end of 1818.  Here are a few more of the fascinating descriptions of life in centuries long ago….

Throughout many of these years, the threat of war was never far away, as we can read in this record from 1540:

In the course of this year the community was alarmed by the rumour of a war with England, which rendered it necessary to adopt measures for putting the town in a posture of defence.  Guards of citizens were places on the ports; and the entrance to the harbour was secured by a boom, composed of masts and iron chains, thrown across the bar, to prevent an attack from the sea.”

Some considerable time earlier, we can read of an attempt to work out how many people lived in Aberdeen:

The extent of the population of Aberdeen, at the close of the fourteenth century, may be conjectured from the number of inhabitants chargeable with public assessments. In the earlier years of the subsequent century, we find, in the record, a roll of persons of this description, to the number of 344.  These may be supposed to have been heads of families; but to which there may be added one third more, as being unable to contribute taxes. The whole families might, therefore, be computed 458; and when the state of society at this period, and other circumstances, are taken into consideration, it is highly reasonable to conjecture, according to the usual principles in such cases, that there were at least 6 ½ persons in each family. Hence we may estimate the population to have been in the end of this century, 2977, or probably 3,000 persons of all ages. The whole population of Scotland was reckoned only 600,000, in the time of Alexander III; and when the national had been so frequently exposed to the three great scourges of mankind, war, pestilence and famine, it is not probable it had much increased since that period.

I hope this is of much interest to you as it is to me: we live in a fascinating and ancient city!

Julie Skinner, Resourcing and Benefits Specialist, RGU