Aberdeen by Elma McMenemy

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 by way of developing an incredible variety of recumbent stone circles, as soon as regarded as locations of sacrifice. Invaders together with Celts, Romans and Vikings met violent, bloody resistance, and the triumphant Roman military left hundreds of thousands 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 via Kings, Royalists and Nazis, no century has left the town unmarked. Plague, conflict, extended family feuds, murderers, witches, covenanters and slavers - all have stained the silver urban pink with blood!

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Chief of Clan MacIntosh, Callum Beg, led on the left, while Donald himself commanded the central force. Donald’s three divisions forced back Mar’s attack and it is believed that Provost Davidson was killed during this initial push back. Each side fought hard in hand-to-hand combat. All fighting would have been on foot, although the nobles and lairds would have arrived on horseback. Only they would have worn armour of any sort, most likely plate armour for Mar’s men and chain mail for the clan chiefs.

He was buried where he lay and later a spring bubbled up nearby – a spring which is said to flow not with water but with Hosie’s tears! It was reported that Donald intended to sack and plunder the royal town of Aberdeen and enforce his authority on the country as far as the River Tay. Donald’s men were described as ‘occupying the district in such large and savage numbers like locusts, all those … who saw them were alarmed, and every man was afraid … ’ By July 1411 Donald and his Highlanders were camped less than 20 miles from Aberdeen, close to the farm or fermtoun of Harlaw, almost in the shadow of Bennachie.

Another brother was Alexander, Earl of Buchan, the notorious ‘Wolf of Badenoch’, remembered today for having burned Elgin Cathedral. Ineffectual rule continued and lawlessness escalated. The gap widened between the civilised and prosperous Lowlands and the Highlands, perceived as barbaric by Lowlanders. The Regent‘s nephew, Alexander, illegitimate son of the Wolf of Badenoch, took the title of Earl of Mar in 1404. This he did by seizing and killing the existing Earl and besieging his castle at Kildrummy, threatening to burn it down if his widow refused to marry him – the countess had no choice but to agree.

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