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Archives of historical significance to go on show

15/05/14

A new exhibition which celebrates Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives will open on Saturday 17 May, at the Tolbooth Museum, Castle Street, Aberdeen.

Chris Croly, Aberdeen City Council Historian with the City Keys that will be on display. Aberdeen's archives have long been recognised as the oldest and most complete set of civic records in Scotland and have the distinction of being recognised as of outstanding national historical significance by UNESCO.

The Best in Scotland exhibition will for the first-time-ever offer the public the opportunity to see some of these archives together in one place.

Material on display will include the very first charter granted to Aberdeen by King William the Lion in the late 12th century and the great charter of Robert the Bruce to Aberdeen, which granted the Stocket Forest to the people of Aberdeen.

Other items on show will include a first edition of The Aberdeen Journal, the report that led to the creation of Union Street as well as the 1855 Index of Prostitution drawn up by the Police Commissioners.

In addition to the variety of written records on display the exhibition will include artefacts from the city's collections.

For the first time ever, the city's earliest seal matrix dating to 1430 will go on public display showing the earliest evidence of Aberdeen's famous and welcoming motto 'Bon Accord'.

Chris Croly, historian with Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums said: 'It is a real privilege to be able to host this exhibition and the wealth of material on display is incredible.

"Here people can come and visit material as diverse as the 18th century silver keys to the city of Aberdeen as well as the official records of the German bombing of Aberdeen during World War II.

"These archives allow us to tell the history of Aberdeen in vivid detail. The people of Aberdeen should be very proud of their city's historical documents."

Phil Astley, city archivist said: "The fantastic range of material in this exhibition is a testament to the long tradition of record-keeping in the city.

"These archives are in many ways the 'memory' of Aberdeen and constitute a unique and tangible link to the past.

"The exhibits are fascinating not only because of the information contained within them, but as historical objects in their own right."

The display also reflects the wider geographical extent of the records outside Aberdeen by including a small selection of splendid archives from Aberdeenshire Council collections, which have been cared for by the service alongside those of Aberdeen since 1996.

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives is unusual in Scotland in that it provides a joint archive service for two local authorities.

This offers excellent opportunities to understand the rural, county, and city connections between the records, which in turn can provide a more rounded view of the history of North-east Scotland.

The Tolbooth Museum, one of the oldest buildings in Aberdeen is the best preserved 17th century jail in Scotland. It is open Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm (closed Sunday) and admission is free.

The exhibition will run until Saturday 06 September 2014.

Two lunchtime talks about the City and Aberdeenshire Archives have been organised to coincide with the exhibition: 

Aberdeenshire's Written Record: Highlights from Aberdeenshire's Archives

Tolbooth Museum
12.30pm on Wednesday 25 June
Ruaraidh Wishart, senior archivist, Aberdeen City Archives

Aberdeen's Written Record: Highlights and Recent Projects in the City Archives

Tolbooth Museum
12.30pm on Wednesday 16 July
Phil Astley, city archivist, Aberdeen City Archives
Both talks are free. Advance booking is essential by telephoning the Tolbooth Museum on (01224) 621167.