“There is, perhaps, no town in the kingdom better supplied with provisions of every kind than Aberdeen, and the prices, in general, are moderate.”

The Annals of Aberdeen reflect the city as it existed in previous centuries (they cover the period from “the reign of King William the Lion – c. 1142 – 1214 – to the end of the year 1818).  However, in many respects, as we’ve suggested in previous blogs based on this brilliant historical record, they also mirror the city as it is today, albeit with all the mod-cons of the 21st century making life a bit easier for the inhabitants than it was back in the day.

For example, the quote above is by way of introduction to descriptions of the various markets in Aberdeen, beginning with the butcher market, described thus:

“The public market continues to be held on Friday, weekly. The butcher meat has, for many years, been esteemed of an excellent quality…”

The Shambles (the butchers’ market and slaughterhouses) were originally on the north side of King Street, but latterly moved to the north side of the town.

The fish market was also central, perhaps too much so, because “The exposing of fish to sale in the Castle-street had long been complained of by the inhabitants as an intolerable nuisance, particularly in the summer months.”

While they might have objected to the smell (the city authorities later created a fish market on the south side of the Shiprow), the people of Aberdeen could hardly complain about the choice of fish offered.  Then, as today, Aberdeen, was well served…

“The local situation of Aberdeen affords the advantage of an abundant supply of fish, at almost every season of the year…Haddocks seldom fail; cod and ling are plentiful, and good in their season; hollibut (halibut) is caught in great quantities; whitings occasionally appear on the coast, but they are rarely brought to market; flat fish, such as skate and salt and fresh water flounders are frequently sold.”

The fisher folk of the town lived in “Futtie and Torrie.”  The writer then goes on to describe them as “a peculiar class of people, who form a sort of community among themselves, and seldom intermarry with the other inhabitants of the place.”

Other markets, for meal, poultry and dairy products were on the west side of King Street and again the public were not lacking in choice…

“The supply of meal, poultry, butter and cheese, is generally abundant; and these articles are brought to the town every market day from almost every part of this extensive county….there is also a daily supply of vegetables. of all kinds, for the table.”

If you already live here, you’ll know that the supply of fresh meat, fish and vegetables is of the highest quality. The abundance of our local, natural larder is, as the quote at the top of this article suggests, as good, if not better, than you’ll find anywhere in the kingdom.

Julie Skinner, Resourcing and Benefits Specialist, RGU