IHBC 2020 Yearbook

30 Y E A R B O O K 2 0 2 0 ABERDEENSHIRE: HERITAGE ON THE EDGE? DOUGLAS CAMPBELL NORTH EAST Scotland’s mix of urban and rural environments provides a fascinating cross-section of issues faced by many parts of the UK, nuanced by its particular economic and social context. Retail pressures in high streets, remote landlords, underuse and redundancy are by no means unique, and nor are undermaintenance and shortages of skilled contractors. Aberdeen and its shire may have benefitted from years of support from the energy sector, but the popular myth that it is cash-rich belies significant complexities which can have both positive and negative impacts on the historic built environment. While by no means a monotown, there is no doubt that the price of a barrel of Brent Crude still has an immediate and sometimes dramatic impact on local economics, as borne out by estimated job losses in oil and gas of over 100,000 in the wake of the oil crash in 2014. The region’s rurality brings its own issues too. Stretching and prioritising limited resources over large tracts of land, whether in private or public ownership, and resourcing and encouraging inward investment into widely dispersed settlements is challenging in a context where traditional industries have been subject to historic ebb and flow. While it is tempting to see North East Scotland as being at the edge, geographically and economically, Aberdeenshire has been a strategic location since earliest times. Mesolithic finds point to very early occupation and stone circles are in abundance. Remains of marching camps testify to the ambitions of the Roman Empire north of Antonine’s Wall and the Grampian Mountains themselves are named after the AD83 battle between the Picts and Romans at Mons Graupius. Some speculate that the battle took place at or near Bennachie, a prominent 1,800-foot hill near Inverurie, which seems evervisible from across large swathes of The termination of Aberdeen’s ‘granite mile’ at Castlegate (Photo: Aberdeen City Heritage Trust)