By Elma McMenemy

Aberdeen has been inhabited for 8,000 years, because the first Hunter-Gatherers settled at the banks of the River Dee. 4,000 years later, Bronze Age peoples left their mark at the panorama through developing an enormous variety of recumbent stone circles, as soon as regarded as areas of sacrifice. Invaders together with Celts, Romans and Vikings met violent, bloody resistance, and the triumphant Roman military left millions of Caledonian corpses for the crows following the conflict of Mons Graupius. From the slaughter of Aberdeen Castle's English garrison (part of a voters' rebellion in aid of Robert the Bruce) to all-out attacks at the urban through Kings, Royalists and Nazis, no century has left town unmarked. Plague, warfare, extended family feuds, murderers, witches, covenanters and slavers - all have stained the silver urban crimson with blood!

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Legend has it that Wallace made a belt for his sword with his piece of Cressingham skin. Andrew de Moray died from wounds he received at the Battle of Stirling Bridge – perhaps his early death is the reason his name is rarely remembered alongside Wallace’s. Wallace is said to have accessed the castle by Fiddlehead Rock; today, visitors use a path. (Author’s collection) Historical records show Blind Harry’s poem to be inaccurate. At the time when Dunnottar and Aberdeen were burned, Wallace was actually carrying out raids in Central Scotland.

Most reports state the fourth city was Stirling but some claim it was Aberdeen, where it is said an arm and half his torso were displayed near St Machar’s Cathedral. This would serve to warn others of the punishment for any tempted to follow in Wallace’s footsteps. DEATH BY FIRE OR DEATH BY DROWNING! According to Blind Harry, Wallace brought his men to Dunnottar, the clifftop castle on a headland some miles south of Aberdeen. This castle had huge strategic importance; it controlled the main north–south route along the coast and was in English hands.

One of Edward’s spoils of war was the historic Stone of Scone, or Stone of Destiny, on which all Scottish kings had been proclaimed. Edward removed the Stone and took it to Westminster Abbey. In 1296, Edward and his army camped in a field close to Kincardine o’Neil, not far from the battlefield where Macbeth had been killed around 250 years earlier. It is said that there were few men left in Kincardine o’Neil to protect their women and children. When the English arrived they sacked the village, stealing all the food and raping the women before leaving them and their children to starve.

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